What Does My Exhaust Smoke Mean?

Typically, when you see exhaust spewing out of your car's tailpipe, you should investigate it. It can sometimes signal problems and sometimes be completely harmless. The color of the vapors itself can be very telling of the inner workings of your engine. So if you see white, blue, or black smoke coming out of your tailpipe, read on to find out what they mean.

  • White smoke - If your exhaust smoke is light and almost translucent, it is probably just condensation. However, excessive white smoke may be more concerning. It typically suggests that the engine is burning an excessive amount of coolant. In other words, you most likely have a coolant leak that has escaped into the pistons. To mitigate the risks of engine overheating, please bring your car to a trusted auto repair shop for an inspection right away. 
  • Blue smoke - On the other hand, blue smoke typically points to an oil leak due to worn valves, O-rings, or gaskets. The engine may be burning the motor oil with the fuel and air. The blue smoke will generally discharge out when the engine is idling or running at high speeds. You can check around your parked car or under the hood for additional signs of an oil leak to be sure. Otherwise, please bring your vehicle to the auto repair shop for an inspection.
  • Black smoke - Dark, black clouds of exhaust smoke often point to an error in the combustion process. In most cases, the fuel is not burned all the way, meaning that there's too much fuel flowing into the engine. You may even catch a whiff of strong gasoline whenever you catch the dark smoke. We suggest bringing your car to us as soon as possible to avoid a heavy increase in gas consumption.


If your car requires exhaust system or fluid leak repairs, we welcome you to bring your vehicle to the experts at Protech Automotive Services.