Does your car smoke?

Saturday, September 5, 2020

 Do you Smoke? It is better if you didn't, but the COLOR of your smoke can tell a lot.Of course I am talking about automobiles! Over the years, manufacturers have improved components we use in our automobiles including lubricants and fluids, but sometimes we still see tell-tale signs of a problem when we see smoke. It is important if you see any kind of smoke, to make a mental note of what it looks like. 

Black smoke = Too Rich or Rubber Burning

If the problem is only when the engine is cold and has a carburetor, look for a choke problem. Check your tailpipe. Is it black & sooty? There are many causes of rich. Carbs have needle & seat and fuel expansion issues. Fuel injection relies on sensors that signal the ECM. Vacuum leaks cause an un-balance condition whereby cylinders misfire and ruin sparkplugs. AND then there is  the NEW engine setup. Start with a baseline and work from there. A compression test and vacuum readings give you a good idea of general engine health. A BIG side-effect of too rich, too long is; the un-used fuel will end up in your oil.  NOT GOOD!

Burning Rubber?  Shame on You. It will cost you some new tires soon!

White smoke = Antifreeze or Transmission Fluid

Be careful with this one. Antifreeze in the exhaust is NEVER good. Usually, this is caused by excessive OVERHEATING or a blown head gasket or cracked cylinder head. Usually, the fumes smell 'sweet'.  Don't run the engine in this condition! This is the #1 cause of engine failure. 

Another cause of white smoke can be transmission fluid getting into the exhaust. If you have a transmission (Ford or GM) that uses a vaccuum modulator valve, the diaphram can crack and allow transmission fluid to be drawn into the intake system.  In severe cases, the clouds of white smoke can be huge. Low transmission fluid is the #1 cause of transmission failure.

Blue / Gray Smoke = Oil burning 

This is common with older engines that have many miles on them.  Engines from the 60's & 70's typically needed some type of engine work before 100,000 miles. Valve guides and seals went bad, and poorly maintained lubrication systems caused the need for much of this work.  Newer engine designs have pushed the mileage barrier closer to 200,000 or more miles. IF your car smokes (blue) all the time, and has that 'oil burning smell', check and make sure you have a PCV system that works properly and that you have provided venting for the oiling system. Spinning parts need to BREATHE. Otherwise, it may be time for some engine work.

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