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  • Writer's pictureBella O

Causes of White Smoke from the Exhaust

Seeing white smoke coming out of your car’s exhaust pipe can send shivers down your spine. While you don’t know the cause, you don’t also know what impact it might have on your engine. With this, you need to find out the possible causes of the issue and what you can do about it.

First, it is worth noting that white smoke blowing out of your tailpipe can be normal at times, especially in the winter, which is no cause for alarm. However, other causes can be serious and should require immediate attention.

Top Causes of White Smoke from the Tailpipe

Here are possible reasons why your car’s exhaust pipe releases white smoke and what to do:

1. Condensation Burn Off

White smoke can result from condensation burning off, and fortunately, this is normal and is nothing to worry about.

Accumulation of condensation usually burns off during the first few seconds of starting the engine. Hence, if you start your engine and notice the exhaust pipe releasing white smoke, you don’t want to jump to a conclusion immediately.

Watch the smoke for some seconds and even up to two minutes to see if it clears off. The smoke should stop within a few seconds of starting the engine if it is caused by condensation burning off.

However, if the smoke continues for several minutes, you may consider another cause for the smoke.

2. Cracks in the Cylinder Head

A leaking cylinder head is a potential cause of white smoke from the tailpipe. When the cylinder head leaks, the escaping coolant mixes with the engine oil, contaminating the oil, regardless of how small the crack is.

One common sign of this is white smoke from the tailpipe, which you can confirm by perceiving the smell. If the smoke continues for some time, it gives a sweet odor smell.

3. Damaged Coolant Reservoir Tank

This is similar to the effect of a leaking cylinder, as it also involves mixing coolant with the engine oil. However, this time, the coolant comes from a damaged coolant reservoir tank. Though coolant reservoir tanks are less prone to damage, they can still get damaged, especially when tampered with.

A damaged coolant reservoir tank usually occurs when a mechanic is working on another part and accidentally tampers with the tank.

Hence, if this is found to cause the white smoke from your tailpipe, the best solution is to replace the coolant reservoir tank to avoid further damage, especially to more expensive parts.

4. Leaking Valve Seals

Oil leaking out of the valve seals or piston rings is a potential cause of white smoke. When oil leaks out from any of these parts, it flows into the internal combustion chamber and mixes with the fuel. This mixture results in smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe.

Although this smoke is usually blue-ish, it appears to some people as white smoke.

Leaking oil hurts the components, as they are not well-lubricated, causing wear and tear and damaging them.

With this, it is wise to hire a specialist auto repair shop like Grease Monkey Garage to fix the issue immediately, preventing further damage to the engine.

5. Faulty Fuel Injector

As the name implies, the function of the fuel injector is to inject fuel into the internal combustion chamber in the right amount at the right time. However, once the injector gets damaged, it compromises performance, meaning it doesn’t inject the proper amount of fuel into the chamber at the right time.

A faulty fuel injector should be replaced to solve the issue.

6. Engine Control Unit Error

A faulty engine control also contributes to white smoke from the exhaust pipe by declining the fuel injector’s performance. While this doesn’t mean the fuel injector is bad, the error throws off the timing of the injector.

The way out is to fix the engine control unit to correct the timing of the fuel pump injector. While you can fix this issue by unplugging the car battery for a few minutes, the issue can be stubborn, requiring the service of an expert mechanic.

7. Cracks in the Engine Block

A cracked engine block is the worst nightmare about white smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe. Unfortunately, this is the most costly of all the possible causes of white smoke, and you can’t ascertain if this is the cause of the problem until a mechanic checks your engine to confirm it.


White smoke is usually an issue to worry about, except it clears off within a minute of starting the engine. However, if the smoke continues after some minutes of running the engine, it means something serious is playing culprit to the issue.

While it is important to contact a mechanic to check and fix the cause of the white smoke, it is equally important to choose a professional. The type of mechanic that works on your vehicle determines if you will get the issue fixed properly or add more issues to the engine. This is where Grease Monkey Garage comes in.

At Grease Monkey Garage, we are a licensed and qualified auto repair shop in Las Vegas with many years of experience repairing vehicles. Contact us today to diagnose your vehicle with any white smoke or any other issues and we will recommend the best remedy.

Don't wait another minute, call Grease Monkey Garage today for experienced auto repair services in Las Vegas & North Las Vegas at 702-478-7881 and in Henderson at


Tony & Bella - Owners Grease Monkey Garage

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