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Home > What does the colour of engine smoke say about your car?

What does the colour of engine smoke say about your car?

During your many hours on the UK roads, you will have seen cars that are leaving behind a smokescreen of different colours. And often this smoke is accompanied by an unpleasant smell. It might even be your own car that is smoking. Have you ever wondered why these colours are different?

When the smoke has a white, black or blue colour, it is interesting and often important to find out what causes this. So that, when necessary, you can take appropriate steps to prevent serious damage and possibly expensive repairs.

What causes white engine smoke?

Of course when the weather is cold, simply the heat of the air and vapour coming out of the exhaust will already cause a white smoke to appear. This is normal.

White smoke can also appear when the fuel is not burning fully. When this happens at a time that the engine is still cold, this is to be expected. And should not be a problem.

However, when this happens when the motor is already sufficiently warmed up, there could be an issue. For example, a fault with the injection system, incorrect timing of the ignition, overheating of the engine or the air filter is clogged.

Most of these issues are fairly easily sorted.

What causes black smoke?

In case of black smoke, it is highly likely that there is an issue with the fuel system.

This could simply mean there are some slight issues with the tuning. Ask someone to have a quick look at this. And it might be very easy to sort out.

If you are confident that there is no issue with the tuning, then it is highly likely that fuel is not combusted completely. Soot particles that are normally burnt now stay intact and visible, causing the colour of the smoke to turn black.

There are a few symptoms that usually accompany this black smoke. You might notice that the fuel consumption will increase compared to before. Furthermore, your car might become a little sluggish and hesitant when trying to start. Additional to these symptoms occasionally the motor will run irregularly. This will be very clear to hear by a well-trained ear. Of course, we do not expect everybody to pick up on this, but try to listen out for any irregularity in the rhythm. You might surprise yourself.

The soot particles mentioned before do not only end up in the smoke that comes out of the exhaust. They also make their way into the engine oil. And following that they end up in numerous parts of the engine where they can cause trouble. For example in the heat exchange, piston rings, oil filters and valves.

This could have serious consequences. The engine oil is there to protect the engine from wear and tear. When this oil is dirty, the anti-wear properties will no longer be able to do their job. And steadily, serious damage could be caused to important parts of the engine.

What causes blue engine smoke?

If you have a petrol car, there is a slight chance that diesel has accidentally been mixed with your petrol. If this is only a small amount, this might cause blue smoke. If, however, this is a larger amount, your car might stop altogether. So please make sure you use the correct fuel when filling up. And if you have accidentally put the wrong fuel in, donít drive off. Get your tank emptied and fill it up again (correctly).

If you have indeed used the correct fuel, and you still have a blue smoke, it could be caused by oil being mixed with fuel and then combusting together. If the oil content in the fuel is above the recommended level, this will cause the vehicle to fail the emissions test in the MOT.

Why would oil end up in the fuel? This can happen when parts of the engine are worn. For example, the oil passes through the piston rings or comes through the valve guides. When the engine has a turbocharger fitted, it is also possible that the oil is leaking through this. All these issues will make the engine more inefficient, which consequently uses more fuel.

When you have issues like this, your oil will disappear much quicker than usual. On your dashboard, your car will indicate it has a low oil level. And you will be required to refill more often than you are used to. In the unfortunate occasion that you do not notice this or you wait too long with refilling, this can cause catastrophic damage to the engine. The worst case scenario is that you will have to replace the engine.

Keep an eye out to prevent breaking your engine and your bank account.
So, it is highly recommended to pay attention to the symptoms and act as quickly as possible. By replacing a few parts, you can prevent having to replace the entire engine. And we all know this can be a very costly affair.

When choosing your replacement parts, we can lend a helping hand. Instead of buying new original parts, we can offer our assistance in obtaining used original parts.

We are here to help.

Phone:  01902 403525
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