Why Is White Smoke Coming From My Exhaust Pipe?

what does white exhaust smoke mean

Sometimes when you wish to go for a drive, you see your wheels aren’t responding the way they should, or you see a considerable amount of white smoke coming out from the exhaust pipe.

It’s not just about white smoke; any color of smoke coming from the exhaust infers that something is wrong with your wheels. The sensitivity of the problem depends on the color of the smoke.

So, if you see white smoke from your car’s exhaust pipe, this may be a sign of the following problems:

  1. Injector pump timer
  2. Damaged fuel injector
  3. Condensation
  4. Broken cylinder head, clogged engine, etc
  5. Leaking Oil
  6. Error in the ECU

Now let’s study what causes your car to produce white smoke and it can be fixed.

What Is White Smoke?

White smoke is the result of the condensation occurring in the exhaust pipe. This is very natural for any car.

When the engine starts to get heated, as a by-product, it produces water vapor resulting from the condensation process in the exhaust pipe.

This gets converted into steam for the heating effect of the tube and engine.

If this does not go away with time, it is a sign that it can impose severe problems in your vehicle sooner or later.

The white smoke is generally observed in the least maintained cars or when you purchase a used car. However, the smoke produced by a vehicle that runs on petrol will be completely different from running on diesel.

Although white smoke is not as scary as it sounds or looks, it is advisable not to drive when you see white smoke coming from the exhaust pipe.

Instead, seek immediate consultation, or your set of wheels may be at risk.

6 Reasons Why White Smoke Is Coming Out Of The Exhaust

When you see white smoke, it may be a warning for these problems below:

1. Injector Pump Timing

If you see white smoke from the exhaust pipe, it may infer that your vehicle’s fuel injector timing is damaged (for automobiles, running in diesel only).

The timing is critical when the pump is refilling the diesel. The timing ensures no overrunning of diesel into the cylinders.

However, if the timing somehow gets disabled, it may lead to thick white smoke from the exhaust pipe.

2. Damaged Fuel Injector

The other reason could be a damaged fuel injector. When the fuel injector gets jammed open or starts to leak, it will allow passing more fuel to the combustion chamber.

The excess amount of fuel will not be fully utilized by the engine and hence will produce dense smoke.

Here’s how you can replace your bad faulty fuel injectors.

3. Condensation

White smoke you see can also be a result of condensation. In condensation, the smoke produced will be very light and will disappear eventually as the vehicle gets heated.

However, if you see denser smoke coming out of the exhaust tube, stop the engine and seek help.

4. Damaged Head Of The Cylinder

If the white smoke smells somewhat sweet, this is a warning for three probable conditions:

  • The coolant is mixed with the engine oil
  • Broken cylinder head
  • Damaged gasket

These are the possible chances that your vehicle is producing white smoke and overheating.

Now, a faulty cylinder head makes the coolant flow into one or more fuel cylinders.

In rare cases, the coolant is also found in the combustion chamber. This problem arises due to the presence of dirty coolant.

The system does not get proper maintenance and using the vehicle with deficient coolant levels may lead to something very severe.

5. Leaking Oil

A faulty seal can allow the coolant inside the combustion chamber. Chances are, the white smoke is produced because of this.

Therefore, you need to fix this oil leakage as soon as possible to avoid damaging the engine in the long run.

6. Error In The ECU

ECU stands for Engine Control Unit. A faulty ECU might inject excess fuel into the combustion chamber.

This leads to unburnt fuel being ejected with the exhaust gases in the form of white smoke. It might also occur due to a timing mismatch of the injector.

To fix this, you have to reprogram or reset and restore the correct timing. You can unplug your car batteries for a few minutes to reset the timing. Or consult your mechanic.

How To Fix White Smoke Coming Out Of The Exhaust Pipe

The moment you see white smoke coming from the exhaust pipe, please switch off the engine immediately.

It is advisable to take your wheels to a certified mechanic. If you happen to be an amateur, please do not try to fix this issue all by yourself.

1. Check The Coolant Level

If you see white smoke coming out from the exhaust, the first thing you should do is to check the coolant level. This will confirm if you are having any issues with coolant leakage.

If you see the coolant level is low and do not see coolant leaking anywhere else, you probably have a damaged cylinder head.

2. Examine The Gasket

Inside the engine block, the gasket plays an essential role in distributing the combustion mixtures and coolant to separated intake ports.

And these are ports that are placed in the cylinder heads. The gasket is made of rubber or plastic, so it is prone to extreme heat.

Examine closely. The primary purpose of this gasket is to prevent the coolant from moving around other chambers.

Hence, if one of these gets broken or faulted, the coolant will move to the combustion chamber producing white smoke while running.

To examine this, you need to remove the manifold and see if there is any fault in the intake gasket. If you see it, you need to know that a significant repair is coming your way.

Also, it is better that you check the cylinder heads, which are connected with the engine and head block. It is made from aluminum and is prone to breaking if the car produces excessive heat.

Hence, you must check carefully as this can play a role in releasing white smoke. If you see a crack, repair it without further delay.

If you wish to fix this issue yourself, you may need to go through the owner’s manual and make sure you have the correct tools.

Be careful, do not make any hasty move, and carefully label every piece you are taking out.

Check this out:

How Does A Normal Exhaust Emission Look?

Usually, there is no chance of seeing any exhaust exiting from the pipe. However, you may see light-white color smoke; that is just steam.

There is nothing to worry about if you see the light white smoke. The standard emissions are way different than the white smoke.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Why Is My Car Producing White Smoke While Stopping?

If you get to see white smoke while stopping your car, chances are the oil must have got in the combustion chambers causing it to burn from the exhaust. This issue is relatively easy to recognize.

You should fix this problem as soon as possible. The longer the oil stays inside, the more damage it makes. And the spark plugs may require replacement.

Q2. Why Does It Produce White Smoke While Accelerating?

If your car is releasing white smoke while accelerating, it is primarily because of two reasons:

  • Transmission Fluid: Here, the engine sucks the liquid through a vacuum hose, which leads to the formation of white smoke, and it will produce a burning oil smell.
  • Burning Coolant: If the burning of coolant causes white smoke, it will make a sweet smell, which means either you have a faulty cylinder head or a damaged gasket.

In this case, test the coolant if it low or if the engine is overheating. If neither of the two is happening, the car has a leaking gasket that needs to be replaced.

If the fluid is the problem’s source, you have to replace the transmission vacuum moderator.

Q3. Why Is My Car Engine Producing Smoke But Not Overheating At All?

Smoke exiting from the bonnet can be due to many issues apart from overheating.

If the smoke produced by the car smells like tar, it is basically due to oil burning. And you may need to replace or repair your gasket.

Or, it may be due to residue build-up or damaged piston cylinders.


If your car is producing white smoke, it is not a minor issue that you can overlook.

It can be pretty dangerous is harmful to other automobiles but can be equally hazardous for your car, and it needs utmost care and attention.

We have discussed every possible reason for your car to produce white smoke. This article has mentioned the tips to help you examine your vehicle.

If you find any of these problems, do consult your mechanic and seek help. It is essential because you can ruin your car’s performance and avoid massive expenses if you use one wrong technique.


Written by Kane Dan

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