Is your car suffering from a white, smoky exhaust that resembles the bonfire smoke signals? Well, this is the smoke being produced from the tailpipe of the car. The only function of the exhaust is to pump out the spent gases from the car’s engine. But at times, if you notice a cloud of smoke coming out of it while accelerating or even when the car is stationary, then it is an indication that your car needs to be serviced followed by some expensive repairs and replacements.

Car Exhaust Smoke

The very first thing that you need to look for is when the smoke occurs! Is it either during the acceleration or when the car is stationary? 

After having analysed this, observe what type of smoke it is.

  1. Black Smoke is linked with the balance of combustion by the ECU. It appears due to either a leaking fuel injector, a blocked fuel return pipe or a broken airflow sensor.
  2. Blue Smoke appears in cars that have an unwanted oil mixing into the air or fuel mixture, indicating worn out piston rings or turbochargers.
  3. White Smoke is the steam that might be nothing to worry about, but it can be an early indication for an engine replacement.
  4. Grey Smoke occurs mainly due to excessive oil, a PCV valve failure or a transmission fluid leak in automatic cars.

What does white smoke in a car mean?

The white smoke coming out of the exhaust is caused due to the condensation happening in the exhaust pipe or the worst-case scenario might be the engine coolant leak. This is the most common smoke from the exhaust.

But in reality, this isn’t smoke at all. When a cold engine is started, it soon begins to heat up, and the water vapour is formed. This creates condensation within the exhaust system, which then turns into steam as the water vapour is heated up by the rising temperatures in the engine and exhaust that follows. This steam evaporates quickly once the car has warmed up. 

What causes the white smoke in the car?

Your car is sending out a distress signal in the form of this white smoke. It normally occurs when you use your car only for short journeys and the exhaust system doesn’t get enough time to warm up. 

If the white smoke is thicker and doesn’t fade away, then this is an indication of a more severe issue. It occurs when the coolant or water has accidentally entered the combustion chamber. When it gets burnt within, thick white steam is produced that exits through the exhaust. Cracks and worn-out gaskets let the coolant inside the chamber.


If you neglect this white smoke being ejected out of the exhaust, then the condensation process which is occurring inside will not clear and it corrodes the bare steel of the exhaust, leading to rust that could spread across the exhaust leaks. This will eventually lead to an MoT(Ministry Of Transport) failure due to the incorrect readings in the emission test.

Ways to fix it

First and foremost, do not ignore this and continue running your car! If your engine has a gasket failure, it could lead to overheating and eventually damage the engine and render it useless leading to an expensive engine repair. 

Follow some DIY tips which include checking the coolant level. If the levels are low and there is no leaking anywhere else, then it is a clear indication that you have a head gasket leak or a crack. 

This is a major car repair scenario, so we recommend you leave the hassle on us. Do not worry if you notice any fluid leaking from your car and you need assistance because Pitstop mechanics will come to pick your car at the nearest garage and tend to the problem. Our certified and skilled technicians will diagnose the matter carefully and carry out a full car inspection as a part of the servicing. We also provide a cost and parts breakdown to ensure that you understand the problem and the fix and get a clear picture of the overall cost.