Why Is Smoke Coming From My Car’s Exhaust?

Is smoke coming from your car’s exhaust? If so, you’re probably wondering why that’s happening and what you can do about it. Here are some of the most common reasons cars experience smoke from their exhaust and what you can do to solve this problem.

How Much Smoke Is Too Much?

If you’re seeing excessive smoke coming from your car, you can do a few things to diagnose and fix it. First and foremost, if your car is emitting smoke, pull over immediately — you don’t want to risk an accident by driving with excess smoke pouring out or risk getting burned if the smoke means fire. It’s normal for small amounts of smoke to come from a car’s exhaust pipe when idling or starting up. If your vehicle emits only tiny amounts of smoke at low speeds in warm weather, that might be okay. However, if you see a large plume of white or black smoke while driving at highway speeds or climbing hills, that is a warning sign that something isn’t right with your engine or exhaust system.

A Common Cause of Excessive Exhaust Smoke

Several times a year, you might notice smoke seeping from your car’s exhaust and worry that it could be a sign of serious trouble. More often than not, however, there is an easy explanation. Grease or oil might have accumulated on your car’s exhaust pipe, and when it gets hot enough (from driving), it can burn off and produce a harmless puff of smoke. In addition, for drivers in more humid regions, moisture buildup can cause more frequent instances of smoke from the exhaust pipe.

What Are More Serious Causes of Excessive Exhaust?

Often excessive smoke indicates a severe problem with your vehicle. For example, suppose the smoke coming from your vehicle’s exhaust is thick; this could mean a blown gasket, cracked engine block, or damaged cylinders. In contrast to the thin smoke caused by condensation, this type of smoke typically indicates the engine is burning a fluid it should not burn. Therefore, a professional should diagnose excessive exhaust smoke as soon as possible. In addition, don’t ignore this issue because an engine burning coolant or oil is at risk for more significant problems later.

What Else Can I Do To Prevent This Problem?

You can do things to prevent smoke from billowing out of your exhaust. The simplest solution is to maintain a healthy engine; by keeping up with recommended maintenance, you can reduce fuel consumption and help minimize exhaust buildup. In addition, bring your car in for an oil change every 5,000 miles or when recommended by your manufacturer to keep everything running smoothly.

If you see thick smoke plums coming from your vehicle’s exhaust, you should address this issue right away. Excessive exhaust smoke can indicate a severe problem that should be addressed by a professional. See your automotive care professional to get your car back to running as it should — smoke-free.

Photo by hirun from Getty Images via Canva Pro

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