When your vehicle begins to smoke, it is never a good sign. A little smoke on a cold winter day is fine, but normally your vehicle should only emit clear gases. Smoke coming from your vehicle can be caused by a number of different things. Taking a look at the color of the smoke coming out of your vehicle will help in diagnosing the problem

White Smoke

A little white steam coming out of your exhaust pipe is normal and should not cause worry. However if the white smoke continues for a long period of time, or if it emits a foul odor, there is something wrong. This color of smoke generally means that water condensation or coolant is leaking into the engine. This could be due to a cracked cylinder, warped cylinder, cracked engine block, or a blown head gasket.

Black Smoke

Dark black smoke is usually caused by excess fuel in your vehicle’s system. The mixture between fuel and air is most likely too rich. This could be caused by a range of faulty things such as the sensors, injectors, fuel pressure regulators, or fuel systems. Black smoke may also mean that your engine isn’t getting enough air, which may just mean you need a new air filter.

Blue Smoke

If your vehicle is emitting light or dark blue smoke, it usually means oil is being burned with the gasoline. This usually means one of three things has gone bad and needs to be replaced: your valve seals, piston rings, or spark plug O-rings.  If the smoke has gone on for a while or has gotten really bad, you may have to have your engine rebuilt and/or replaced.

Light Grey Smoke

Not to be confused with white smoke, light grey smoke can mean a few different things. One cause could be your car burning automatic transmission fluid, which can often be solved by just putting in new fluid. Another cause, often found on older cars, is a broken transmission vacuum modulator.

No matter what color smoke is coming out of your vehicle, you generally need to get it checked out by a certified mechanic. Most smoke problems are not a do-it-yourself fix, so make sure to get a professional opinion before trying to fix it on your own. A vehicle is a large investment, so the last thing you want to do is wait it out when it begins to smoke. If your vehicle is smoking and you are not knowledgeable when it comes to auto repair, play it safe and take it to a professional as soon as possible.