As a car owner, you would never want to see smoke coming out of your car. Flames from the exhaust are still okay but smoke is a no no. Regardless of whatever colour it is, smoke is an abnormality and suggests that something is wrong with your car. Fleeting condensation aside, especially during colder months, thick white smoke is a sign of a major issue that needs to be addressed immediately and ignoring this smoke sign could lead to a blown engine.
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To understand why your car is smoking and why the smoke is the colour it is, you need to understand the basics of how a car works. That is the only way a mechanic can diagnose what the issue is.
What Are Exhaust Emissions?
The exhaust fumes that come out of the tailpipe of your car are the direct byproducts of the combustion process happening in the engine. There is a spark that lights a mixture of gasoline and air, and the result of this is gas that is funnelled down the exhaust system. They pass through a catalytic converter to reduce harmful emissions and through the muffler to reduce noise.
What Do They Usually Look Like?
Everything being normal, you should not see the exhaust that comes out of your tailpipe. You might just occasionally see a light white colour, which is water vapour. It is very important to understand that this is very different from the thick white smoke that is being explained in this article.
What Causes Your Car To Emit White Smoke From The Exhaust?
Just like how people stranded on deserted islands send bonfire smoke signals to planes and ships that are passing, that’s the same thing that is happening to your car. Your car is basically putting out a distress call and is begging for help.
When white smoke comes out of your tailpipe, it basically suggests that the coolant or water has inadvertently entered the combustion chamber. When it is burned within the block, it produces thick white smoke that exits through the same tailpipe. Simple.
What Is The Cause Of Coolant Or Water Entering The Combustion Chamber?
Now, this is the next question. When thick white smoke comes out of the exhaust, it typically indicates a blown head gasket, a crack in the engine block or a crack in the head of the gasket. Cracks and bad gaskets allow the fluid to travel to places it should not pass through. If it travels, then that is when the problems begin.
What Should To Do If You See White Smoke Coming From Your Exhaust?
It is very important that the first thing you do is to stop the car from running. If your engine has a gasket failure or a crack, it could lead to further contamination or overheating, which essentially means you want to say goodbye to your engine.
If you want further proof that you are having an issue with coolant leaking within your block, you have two options. First, you can check the coolant level. If you notice the level is low and do not see coolant leaking anywhere, it supports the theory that you have a head gasket leak or crack. Also, you can buy an engine block leak detector kit that uses chemistry to detect contamination in your coolant.
Unfortunately, once it is sure that you have a blown head gasket, a cracked cylinder head, or a cracked engine block, it is time to sadly accept that you have a major repair ahead of you. The only way to confirm these issues is by removing half the engine and getting to the block.
Where you go from that stage is totally up to you because it is one of the biggest car repairs anyone can encounter. It is not recommended that amateurs without the proper tools tackle this task in their own garages. You should take it to your trusted mechanic and discuss whether or not a repair is worth it, depending on the value of the vehicle. You can either rebuild the engine, replace the engine, or buy a new car but if you are comfortable with the project, use a proper service manual, make a plan, and make sure you have the correct tools. Take your time, do not try to rush by cutting through corners, and do not forget to label everything when you are taking it all out.
Sometimes you actually need a mechanic. As much as you would love to do it yourself in order to save costs, sometimes you just need quality repair work performed by professionals you can trust like certified mechanics. Not all car owners have the proper tools, a safe workspace, the spare time, or the confidence to tackle major automotive repairs. So, it is best left for the pros.
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