White smoke from your exhaust

Can you see white smoke coming out of your exhaust? If you’re no good in a crisis, whatever you do, try not to start flapping. One of two things could have gone wrong for this to happen and here’s how you can fix it.

What does white smoke mean?

No one wants to ever see smoke coming out of their exhaust but sometimes it just happens. During the winter months, seeing some white smoke coming from your exhaust, shouldn’t be something that should be too alarming for you and a cause for concern. The only time you might want to start panicking is when you start to notice thick bursts of white smoke, then you might want to sound the alarm.

Whether it's when you’re accelerating or just starting up, we’ve got a problem on our hands. Somethings wrong, but what?

Basically, when coolant or water is burned within the engine, it produces thick white smoke that exists through your tailpipe. The most common cause of this is likely to be any cracks that have decided to make an appearance. Obviously, if this was to be the case, then repairs or replacement would be needed, which is where it can start to get a bit expensive. Would you rather fork out for repairs though or risk damaging it further?

Who knows what the damage could be, whether it’s the cylinder head, head gasket, or engine blocks. Even just the smallest of cracks can be costly, but hey ho, it's best to get it fixed sooner rather than later. You’d rather that than permanent engine damage.

These are just some of the issues that could be causing your exhaust to puff out smoke that colour.

How to fix it

Let’s dive a little deeper into those reasons above and how you can fix them.

Condensation in the tailpipe

If you wake up in the morning and start your car up to find it puffing out white smoke, then it’s likely due to condensation. Normally occurring during the winter or colder mornings, the smoke tends to be quite thin and not too visible. It should burn out fairly quickly too once your engine has warmed up. It’s not a sign of trouble but you want to start getting worried if this happens at the same time as something else like reduced engine performance or anything like that.

The great news is though, all it should take to fix this is for you to start driving for the smoke to lessen.

Cracked cylinder head

The cylinder head is no laughing matter, especially if it's cracked. No matter what your cylinder Is made of, truth is, if it ends up with a crack, you’ve got a big issue on your hands here. If yours is cracked, then you run the risk of exhaust gasses seeping back into the cylinder heads. If this happens, then you’ll see white smoke coming from your exhaust. The most common cause of this is engine overheating.

Sadly, it doesn’t get much better when it comes to fixing this either. We’re afraid your only option would be to replace the cracked cylinder, which doesn’t come cheap.

Oil in the combustion chamber

Sounds complicated, but it's not. The only thing that should be inside your combustion chamber is air and fuel. If the oil happens to get in there as well, then it will ignite, meaning you’ll have a thick white cloud of some coming out of your exhaust. You might also have some increased oil consumption and engine misfires too, nothing too heavy.

For any oil to get into this chamber anyway, it probably means that the piston rings or valve seals are leaking.

When it comes to replacing, a piston ring can be pricey, and quite a time-consuming job, and replacing a valve seal costs just that little bit less.

If you do see any white smoke, we hope it is due to condensation. If not, then it's best not to mess around with it as it will end up costing you a fair bit of money if untreated.

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