There could be many reasons why your car is smoking. Seeing smoke from your car is not fun. If you don’t know why it’s happening, you may be stranded on the road, afraid to get in. You may think your car is going to blow up. So why is the car smoking? What does it mean? What should you do? It helps to be informed in such situations, so read on.

Why your car is smoking?

The first thing to do when your car is smoking from underneath the hood is to check the thermostat. Check if you have overheated the car. If overheating is not the problem, then there should be other problems.

If your car is smoking but not overheating, it could mean a blown head gasket, water in the gas tank, thin oil, or a bad oxygen sensor. 

7 possible reasons why your car is smoking

1. A blown head gasket

The head gasket seals the engine block and cylinder head. So a blown head gasket is one of the most common reasons for smoking. If blown, it can cause coolant or oil to leak into the combustion chamber. This can cause smoking without necessarily overheating.

A blown head gasket is usually indicated by white smoke from under the hood or tailpipe. Or the smoke can also be blue.

2. Water in the gas tank

Did you accidentally put water into the gas tank instead of gasoline? Your car can smoke because of that. And also, if your car is very old and the gas tank is rusted, it may have allowed water to seep in, hence the smoking car. This is not good for your car, and you may have to fix the problem soon.

If the water in the gas tank is the problem, there could be white smoke from the exhaust. Water in gas tanks leads to corrosion and the engine to turn bad, so get the problem fixed immediately.

3. Thin oil

You may have used the wrong type of oil in your car. Or you may not have changed the oil often enough. If the oil is too thin, then the engine will overheat and cause the car to smoke.

4. Oxygen sensor

The oxygen sensor is responsible for monitoring the oxygen levels of your exhaust. So if it’s not working properly, your car can start smoking. If this happens, there is usually a check engine light shown.

5. A clogged engine

Bad quality gas contains water and other pollutants that can clog the engine and cause smoking. So it’s important to use good quality oil. Some good quality oil contains additives that prevent the engine clogging and helps clean debris. Please refer to this article for more information.

6. A dirty oil filter

A dirty oil filter will not allow the engine to get the proper amount of oil. And this would cause the engine to smoke.  

7. An oil leak

If your car is smoking due to an oil leak, you may either notice oil on the ground where your car is parked or engine noise. Check the engine light. If it’s an oil leak, get the car to a mechanic soon.

The problem can sometimes be identified by the color of the smoke. If the car is smoking from under the hood and the smoke is white, it could be the coolant leaking. If the smoke is black, then it is an electrical failure or burned wire. Black smoke is also caused by the inefficient burning of raw fuel.

White smoke from the tailpipe can mean a broken head gasket but black smoke from the tailpipe is not indicative of a severe problem. It could mean a clogged air filter or a clogged fuel injector. 

Blue or grey exhaust smoke can be caused by worn pistons, damaged seals, faulty PCV valves, or inlet manifold leaks.

How to prevent car smoking?

The best way to prevent the car from smoking is to get quality service done for your car regularly. This could fix potential problems. Car mechanics check for oil leaks and the stability of oxygen sensors. Also, be mindful of the type of oil you use.

What should you do when your car is smoking?

Your car smoking is not normal and indicates an urgent problem. If your car is smoking, do not continue driving. Pull over immediately, turn the hazard lights on, remove passengers and assess the situation. Check if any warning lights have turned on or if the thermostat has overheated. 

Call a road service and have the car towed to the nearest mechanic. Because a smoking car can overheat, causing a fire. 

If you do notice fire, turn off the engine and pop the hood. Move away from the car by at least 100 feet and call the fire department.

Take your car to a mechanic as soon as possible, or it would cause bigger problems for your car. Some may think that it is normal for cars to smoke in the mornings, especially when it’s cold. But it’s not. And if you notice white smoke from the exhaust, take the car to a mechanic right away and have the underlying problem fixed.

Why your car is smoking: Conclusion

There could be many urgent reasons why your car is smoking. Whenever you see your car smoking, it means there is an issue that has to be fixed immediately. So take the car to a mechanic as soon as possible. Prevent your car smoking by regular car service. Always make sure to use good-quality gas. Change the oil regularly and always check for oil leaks. Don’t try to fix smoking cars by yourself. A smoking car can be a dangerous fire hazard.

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