March 22, 2018

The Color of Your Car’s Exhaust Smoke…

This week on ExperTec of Huntington Beach’s cars 101 blog, we’re gonna cover something that could mean a lot of things… the color of your car’s exhaust smoke.

Even if there is no noticeable change in your vehicle’s performance or efficiency, and no warning lights light up, smoke coming from your exhaust is usually a sign that something is going wrong. If you notice a sudden difference in your car’s exhaust vapors, you should be very concerned.

There are a few different colors of smoke you may see that can point to common issues which are relatively easy to diagnose.

Blue smoke usually means that your engine has started to burn oil. The most common causes of this problem would be leaky valve guide seals or piston rings, which would allow oil to leak out of where it belongs and into the cylinder’s combustion chamber, where it is ignited along with the gasoline.

If you see blue smoke, get your engine’s seals and gaskets checked and replaced as soon as possible to avoid further, possibly extensive, damage to your car’s engine. Until the issue is fixed, you should also make an effort to check your oil regularly and refill it as much as necessary. Burning oil can also cause your car to produce more pollution and run more roughly since it may cause damage to your spark plugs. Furthermore, in a turbocharged car, blue smoke may mean that your turbo needs to be rebuilt or replaced.

Gray smoke, on the other hand, is a bit more ambiguous than blue smoke. It can mean any of the things that blue smoke means, and these should be checked, but it can also mean other things. For example, gray smoke can be a sign of a failed transmission vacuum modulator, which will lead to automatic transmission fluid leaking into the engine and getting burned up. It could also mean that you have a stuck Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) valve, which can lead to a buildup of pressure and oil leaks.

Thick white smoke is usually the most serious issue. It is almost definitely caused by your engine burning coolant, which, most of the time, means that you have a serious issue such as a blown head gasket, damaged cylinder head, or cracked engine block, any of which can quickly kill your engine if you continue to drive on the damaged engine. Even a tiny coolant leak can lead to your car overheating and cause serious engine damage, or mix with oil and destroy its functionality, which may cause your engine to seize.

Black smoke simply means that your engine is burning too much gas. This may be due to an air filter, oxygen sensor, fuel line, or any other component of your intake and injection system. Usually this will not lead to any serious problems or damage anytime soon, but will negatively affect your fuel economy and should still be fixed as soon as possible.

Any major change in your vehicle’s behavior can be a sign that something is wrong. Pay attention to what your vehicle needs and take care of it to ensure that it lasts you as long as possible. Here at ExperTec Automotive in Huntington Beach, we are happy to help figure out why your car is suddenly smoking and fix the problem. If you’ve noticed a change in your exhaust color, call our certified mechanics today at (714)-848-9222 to schedule an appointment. ExperTec Automotive is Huntington Beach’s favorite AAA approved auto shop!

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