Car Smoking Symptoms and What They Mean
We’ve all felt a twinge of empathy as we see that dreaded image; a car smoking down the freeway leaving a trail of cloudy exhaust in its wake. Billowing trails of smoke send up an embarrassing amount of urgency when compared to other symptoms of car trouble such as a slight squealing noise or a “Maintenance Required” light on the dash. When your car starts smoking, you know something needs to be done about it immediately. Even though a smoking car problem can blindside you, you don’t need to go through the rest of the situation blindly if you know how to read the symptoms. In most cases, you’ll be able to get a feel for the issue just by noting the color of the smoke.
Is Your Car Smoking? Note the Color
Have you ever noticed a car smoking with blueish clouds? Blue smoke is one of the most distinctive colors tied to specific car problems. Some of this diagnosis will rely on the type of car you’re driving. If your model is equipped with a turbocharger, blue smoke is often an indicator of a faulty blower. The presence of blue smoke in a non-turbocharged car is often indicative of oil burning. In this case, your mechanic should start by checking your piston rings. Defective piston rings results in oil splashing off course and not providing proper lubrication to your car’s components. If the smoke is grayer in color, the problem is most likely related to your transmission. While a bit of white smoke exhaust emitting from your exhaust pipe is common place, especially in cooler temperatures, clouds of white smoke pouring from your hood can mean that your engine is overheating.
The Severity of Black Smoke
Arguably, the most alarming color of smoke to come spilling from your car is black smoke. Black smoke is often a sign that your engine has been overtaken by gas. Failure of sensors and fuel injectors as well as damage to your engine’s air filter can all relate to the presence of thick black smoke. Black smoke isn’t always a major issue. For example, you may notice a stiff blast of black smoke kick from your car’s exhaust when you step on the gas. In this case, you’re likely seeing the result of an overly rich solution trying to accommodate your sudden heavy acceleration. This is because your pushing more gas into your engine than it can comfortably burn and the excess is evaporating in bursts of black smoke.
Other Factors To Consider
You may want to think back to recent anomalies in your car’s behavior pre-dating the smoking car. For example, have your oil levels been dropping rapidly? This could reinforce the idea that your oil is spilling loose onto your components, especially when paired with blue smoke. Likewise, if your engine has been suffering pronounced performance problems, you’re likely dealing with an issue concerning your oil. Note if your car’s been struggling up inclines more than usual or having any sort of difficulty when loaded with passengers or belongings. A noticeable, constant increase of the temperature gauge (even if it’s not in the red) can also lead to concerns involving oil mismanagement.
Of course, if your car smoking on the freeway has left you playing it safe by pulling over, you’re probably already waiting for a tow to an auto shop where mechanics will give you their diagnosis. But running through a mental checklist and noting the smoke colors can help you to pinpoint the issue and have a general idea of the types of repairs you’ll be getting into. Despite the inevitability of the situation, being mentally prepared can still help you out by cutting out some of the scavenger hunt aspects of pinpointing car troubles.