Lots Of White Smoke Out of Exhaust Pipe

white exhaust smoke out tailpipeHi. I just saw your website and I really hope you can help. Sorry if I’m wasting your time. I have a 1969 Chevy Impala. Had around 150,000 when I bought it.

It blows out gray or white smoke when I hit the gas not sure if I’m at a standstill. Not a little smoke but not a lot. enough though that everyone notices it. Car dies at lights when I try to go mainly if the engine is cold once its hot no stalling or lagging whatsoever. One of my friends said it might be the piston rings. I have no idea. Thanks.

Hey there

You did not mention anything about overheating, coolant loss or your transmission shifting funny. I mention these because white smoke out the tailpipe usually means there is coolant leaking inside the combustion chamber inside the engine or there is automatic transmission fluid leaking inside the combustion chamber.

The first thing I would look for would be is your radiator low on coolant? If so, I would get a cooling system pressure test to determine if there is an internal coolant leak in your engine. Blown head gaskets are the first thing that comes to mind here and this pressure test should reveal this to you.

If you do find you have a blown head gasket or some other internal coolant leak I would recommend you try this over the counter product first before you spend any big bucks overhauling the engine.

If the pressure test determines the coolant is not leaking, then you might want to see if your transmission is equipped with a vacuum transmission modulator valve on the side of the transmission.

This valve will have a rubber vacuum line attached to it, if you remove the vacuum line from the valve and transmission fluid comes out you need to replace the transmission modulator valve.

If you suspect an internal coolant leak like a head gasket problem try doing this FIRST if you are seeing white smoke out of exhaust.

Please share this with your friends,
Austin Davis

Posted in: Exhaust Smoke

30 Comments on "Lots Of White Smoke Out of Exhaust Pipe"

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  1. Austin Davis says:

    Are you sure no coolant loss? Get a cooling system pressure test to be 100% sure, does not take much of an internal coolant leak to make the white smoke. A bad catalytic converter might also cause this, a muffler shop can test it for you.

  2. WILLIAM says:


    • Austin Davis says:

      As long as you are not having to add coolant to the radiator you are probably just seeing condensation built up in the exhaust system burn off on initial start up (thanks to Ethanol gasoline). White smoke is from water/coolant but if system is FULL, I would not worry about it and right it off to condensation.

  3. Willis McCauley says:

    I have white smock coming from my tail pip…..it’s real bad when first start it up then it then out as you drive it when I come to a stop it comes out a little heavy and thick for a minute. …. it’s white and a little blue at times…..Northstar 1996 Cadillac
    I’m sending it to a man that is charging me 1150.00 to start on it….. that year engine had some problems with the bolts that go to the heads I had one side done maybe it’s the same thing….is it worth the money to fix….. 147883 miles on it

    • Austin Davis says:

      If you are losing coolant, then I would expect you have a blown head gasket inside the engine. A cooling system pressure test will help you determine if you have an internal coolant leak or not. If you do, try using the K&W Engine Block sealer I talk about on the site….do a site search and you will see my video about it.

      If the smoke is from engine oil, then it’s toast and time to get another vehicle…just way to costly to repair.

  4. Michael says:

    My 2000 chevy Impala has white smoke that come’s out the tale pipe, the car does not seme to over heat, butt my temp gage does not go to the middle like most car’s, i replaced all the plugs and wire; because the car was miss firing, the plugs where bad thou. and my check eng light is now off, the car ran smooth for a few day’s but not my rpm’s jump where i start the car, but after i start going it is normal?

  5. Patrice Rolle says:

    Thanks for your response, I had it check and they are going to service the engine and replace a Pcv line

  6. Patrice Rolle says:

    hi I have a2005 Toyota Harrier(Lexus) that has white and blue smoke coming from the exhaust when car is started can you give me some help

    • Austin Davis says:

      I would get a cooling system pressure test for the white smoke (caused by burning coolant/water), that will tell you if you have an internal coolant leak like a bad head gasket. The blue smoke, caused by burning engine oil due to excessive internal engine wear, is harder to diagnose.

      If you are not using/consuming engine oil in between oil changes I would not worry to much about the blue smoke. Also, sometimes it can be hard to determine the smoke color sometimes, sometimes its just normal condensation built up in the exhaust system that is burning off on the first start up.

  7. melissa says:

    I have a 02 chevy ran out of gas now its making a tapping noise and blowing white smoke? Can it be a misfire?

    • Austin Davis says:

      Just from running out of gas? Have you checked the underhood fluids like oil and coolant? You can suck up some trash/dirt at the bottom of the gas tank that might cause an engine miss due to a clogged fuel injector, but dont see how the noise and smoke are related to running out of fuel. Make sure the engine did not overheat due to lack of coolant or engine oil. You can try adding a can of Marvel Mystery Oil additive to your engine oil and see if that effects the tapping noise.

      White smoke is usually from coolant getting in the cylinder due to a blown headgasket caused by overheating.

  8. Max says:

    Very Informative Answer. Thank you for sharing this information. I love how you answer questions coming from people who have trouble with their car.Looking forward to more advise in the future.

  9. Christopher says:

    I love the answers you guys give.. so here’s my problem, I have a 97 Honda civic Ls , I think I put to much oil in it so it started pouring white smoke out of the exhaust, we took out the oil about ninety percent and put 50% of the same oil back in bcus we were in a parking lot. Its not overheating, idles fine but still pouring out white smoke so I had to leave it. What is that, why and what can I do?I have little money.? Please help, Chris.

    • Austin Davis says:

      Thanks! WHITE smoke is usually from coolant inside the cylinders, although you can get white smoke from transmission fluid being sucked into the exhaust from a transmission module that is bad….but I dont think your vehicle should have that issue, I honestly don’t remember if your vehicle has a vacuum transmission module.

      Burning engine oil usually produces BLUE smoke. Check the radiator coolant level, if it is low I would get a cooling system pressure test to see if you have an internal coolant leak like from a headgasket.

      BTW, Black smoke is usually from unburned fuel, the engine is running “rich”.

      Let me know what you find.

  10. Greg says:

    Hi I have a 2000 Jeep GC Laredo. I have white smoke coming out of the tailpipe and my engine has a rough time staying on then stalls out. I have changed the EGR, new gaskets, CPS, purge valve, O2 sensors. I don’t know what to do, and I really don’t want to bring it to a mechanic. Please help.

    • Austin Davis says:

      I would get a cooling system pressure test first to make sure you do not have an internal coolant leak like a headgasket. I would also get a compression test on all cylinders to make sure there is no internal engine damage. Compression should be equal on all cylinders and the spark plugs should NOT have any whiteish looking junk on the internal tips, which would indicate coolant is leaking inside the cylinder.

  11. Donny says:

    I had lots of blue looking smoke coming out of my tailpipe, I added a can of Engine Restore additive and it seems to have helped alot, still a little smoke but not near as bad.

    • By Austin Davis says:

      Yes, Engine Restore motor oil additive (available at your auto parts store) works pretty good I use it in my shop. I would also check your PCV system and make sure the valve is working properly and not all junked up with old oil sludge.

      The PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) system is how the engine breathes, if its restricted it places too much pressure on internal engine parts and oil seals.

  12. Nat says:

    I wonder if you could help I have a ford focus which has done 130k miles. There is white smoke coming from the exhaust. I have checked the oil and coolant and no problems. I took to a garage and they did a compression test and said not the head gasket. Any ideas what this could be? No issues with temp but does not clear after I have driven for a while either so don’t just think the cold weather!


    • By Austin Davis says:

      Well, if you are not having to continually add coolant to the radiator I would not worry to much about this. It’s not too uncommon to see some steam coming from the exhaust pipes, more so when cold or when very humid outside.

      If you look under the vehicle on the bottom of the muffler there is a small hole, this is a “weep hole” that allows water to drain out and not rust out the muffler. I guess that hole could get stopped up and not allow the water (condensation) to drip out thus produce more steam out the tailpipe. Maybe you can poke something up the hole and make sure it is open.

      If the smoke has a burnt/rotten egg smell to it, there could be an issue with the catalytic converter or the engine is due for a tune up or a senor has a problem that is making the engine run “lean” or not have the proper fuel mixture.

      If you ARE adding coolant regularly then yes you could have a more serious problem internally, like a headgasket that is seeping or a crack inside the engine etc.

  13. Artie says:

    Good suggestion and helpful information you gave Austin. thank you.

  14. Perry Spencer says:

    I have a 2007 Mazda CX-7. Ever since I had the oil changed at Jiffy Lube I have had white smoke come out my exhaust. What would cause this and what could be an estimated cost of repair. Please note my check engine light never came on.
    Thanks, Perry

    • Austin says:

      hummmm, white smoke? Maybe you were low on antifreeze and they added some which is leaking internally in your engine (like from a head gasket leak) and that is why you see the smoke now.??? I would go back to them and ask them about it, and ask them to do a cooling system pressure test to determine if that is what is happening….coolant is leaking internally in the engine. if so, that is not good! I have an article on this site which helps people solve head gasket leak problems, so do a search on my site for K&W block sealer to read it if that is what is happening.

  15. jenny says:

    Hello I have 1983 Honda Interceptor. And I have white smoke coming out of the muffler. I did a oil change and cleaned out the coolant, spark plugs. What can I do to fix the problem? If any one can please help me.
    Thanks Jenny

    • Austin says:

      First thing to do is get a cooling system pressure test to determine if you have a coolant leak, either external like a radiator hose or internal like a head gasket leak. its not uncommon to see a small amount of steam from the tailpipe when the engine is cold or on initial start up. if you continue to see white smoke coming from the tailpipe after the engine has been warmed up and the vehicle driven around awhile you COULD have an internal coolant leak.

      If the pressure test does show a leak internally in the engine , I highly recommend you try using K&W Engine Block Sealer like I advise on this page (not as can instructs) http://www.myhonestmechanic.com/articles/engine-block-sealer-additive.shtml

      It is my opinion the best product out there for internal coolant leaks

  16. paula says:

    Hi I have a 2005 pt cruiser it has a lot of white smoke coming out of the tail pipe took it in and they replaced the head gasket but its still smoking what do u think it is now

    • Austin says:

      Did they do a cooling system pressure test to determine that there truly is an internal coolant leak, if not get this cheap while you wait test done first! Replacing a head gasket is a $1200 job….they did that? The proper way to do it is to remove the cylinder head and do a valve job, resurface the cylinder head and check it for cracks, then replace the headgasket. if they just replaced the gasket, they might have to re-do the job the right way. The engine would have to really overheat and you continued to drive the vehicle for the head gasket to fail.

      If for some reason you can not get the mechanic to fix this properly for you, you might want to try a headgasket sealer I have had great success with as a last resort. Follow my instructions on this page http://www.myhonestmechanic.com/articles/engine-block-sealer-additive.shtml

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