If your car is smoking while you drive, or for more than a few moments after start-up, something’s wrong! Even if your car is smoking but not overheating, it’s a good idea to schedule service as soon as you’re able to do so. Here are some of the most likely culprits:
- Inoperative cooling systems
- Car burning oil
- Damaged valves, pistons, or wiring
- Leaking head gaskets
If you’re noticing an issue with smoke or overheating, you’ll want to exercise caution, drive as little as possible (if at all), and peruse our guide to common causes of engine smoking and excess exhaust smoke. Our BMW service team has all the info you’ll need to get moving again.
What Does it Mean if Your Car is Smoking but Not Overheating?
If your car is smoking but not overheating, the issue most likely stems from one of several possible sources. First things first: determine where the smoke is coming from. It’s usually the exhaust or the engine, but we’ve covered some other possible sources below, too.
- Oil Spillage and Leakage – If there’s smoke rising from your engine, but no overheating, it’s likely that oil was spilled on the engine. It could also be that you have an oil leak, due to faulty parts or seals. (You might also see smoke from the exhaust.) An older oil filler cap may also host oil residue, which can burn and send up smoke.
- Leaking Coolant – If leaking coolant comes into contact with the hot components beneath your hood, it might go up in smoke and appear as though it’s coming from the engine.
- Damaged Electrical Wiring – If you notice white smoke with an especially pungent odor, your electrical wiring may be getting burnt. This is very uncommon, but easily noticeable when it occurs.
- Black Smoke from Exhaust – A little black smoke is common when you start your vehicle. If it persists, you may have a damaged fuel injector, a faulty fuel pressure regulator, or a dirty air filter.
- White or Gray Smoke from Exhaust – A little bit of white smoke after start-up is usually just condensation. Persistent white smoke indicates a coolant leak in most cases.
- Blue Smoke from Exhaust – Blue or dark gray smoke is a clear indication that your car is burning oil (and not just gasoline). It might stem from worn pistons, damaged seals, a busted gasket, or a malfunctioning PCV valve. Check your oil level when the engine cools to be sure.
What to Do if Your Car is Smoking
They say that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Well, thankfully, that isn’t always the case with automobiles. Even so, if you ever notice smoke coming from beneath your hood, here’s what you should do first:
- Check your temperature gauge immediately. If there’s no overheating, see above.
- If the temperature is high, pull over as soon as possible–even if there isn’t an open fire.
- Pop the hood but don’t try to prop it up. In the event of overheating, your hood will be extremely hot to the touch.
- Get away from the vehicle and clear all passengers from the immediate vicinity. Warn other drivers to the extent that you’re able to do so safely.
- If there’s a fire, call emergency services and alert them to the danger.
- If there’s no fire, wait for the engine to cool and drive immediately to a service center. Even this short drive risks some damage to your engine; towing is always the safer option.
While some of these issues may also lead to smoking without overheating, the most likely causes of overheating include:
- Failing radiator
- Leaks or clogs in the cooling system
- Failure of the water pump
- Blown head gasket
- Low coolant level
Let the BMW of Turnersville Service Team Help!
If you think you might be dealing with any of the above, let a trained and certified expert diagnose the problem at our service center near Philadelphia and Sewell. We even offer Synchrony Car Care™ to help you break up much-needed larger repairs. For the small stuff, take advantage of our BMW parts and service specials.