Three Common Types of Engine Smoke

Whether you’re reading this roadside with a smoking engine or doing some just-in-case research, knowing what the smoke coming from your engine means can be a lifesaver. Once you’ve identified the smoke color and have a tow truck on the way, take a look at what some of the causes might be.

What does blue or gray engine smoke mean?

Blue-tinted or gray smoke coming from your engine is caused by the burning of engine oil. This could signify that you have too much oil in your engine or that there is oil burning in the combustion chamber due to problems with your valves, piston rings, cylinder walls, or PVC system. Keep in mind that this smoke will cause an oily coating on your car and the windshields of any cars behind you, so put on your hazard lights and get off the road as quickly and safely as possible.

Related: Tips for Traveling with a Pet

What does black engine smoke mean?

If you’re seeing black engine smoke, you’re likely seeing the result of incomplete fuel combustion. This means that while your car is getting fuel to the right places, it’s not using and processing that fuel the way that it should. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including a clogged air filter, an oil leak onto the exhaust system, poor ignition timing, or a blocked manifold.  

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What does white engine smoke mean?

If your engine is spewing white smoke, you’re seeing coolant and/or water being vaporized in your combustion chamber. This could happen because your engine block or cylinder head is cracked, you’ve got a leaky head gasket, or your engine is too cold (which means there’s no repair needed!).
Seeing smoke from your engine? Come see our service center at Lexington Toyota. We’ll take a look at your car and see what we can do to help. If your engine block is cracked, we can show you our inventory too.