What is a smoke from engine or exhaust inspection?

A smoke from engine or exhaust inspection involves a mechanic determining the color of the smoke coming from the tailpipe, then diagnosing the corresponding problem.
  • If the smoke is black, then the issue may be less critical. In this case, a mechanic will inspect for a clogged or dirty air filter.
  • If the smoke is white, the inspection would include determining if there is a blown head gasket, a faulty cylinder head or it could be a cracked engine block.
  • If the smoke is blue or gray, the mechanic would take a careful look to see if there is a malfunctioning valve stem seal or failed piston ring.

How to service smoke from engine or exhaust

Here are the various ways to service smoke coming from an engine or exhaust based on the color of the smoke:
  • Smoke is black: The mechanic will replace the air filter as it is either clogged or too dirty. If this doesn’t fix the problem, then a mechanic might have to replace or repair the fuel pressure regulator or the fuel injectors.
  • Smoke is white: The mechanic will have to replace either or both of the head gasket or the cylinder head. The repair work could extend to the engine block as it might be cracked.
  • Smoke is blue or gray: The valve stem seal will need to be fixed as it might be malfunctioning or the piston rings might need to be fixed or replaced.

How important is a smoke from engine or exhaust inspection?

How critical the issue is and how quickly you should visit your mechanic for an inspection depends on the color of the smoke.
Black smoke is usually the least critical and could even be normal. You should still have it inspected just to be safe.
White smoke is considered to be worrisome and merits an immediate inspection as one of the causes might be a damaged cylinder head, which can compromise your engine.
Gray or blue smoke should prompt you to take your car in for an inspection. At the very least, a mechanic can rule out the possibility of a potentially dangerous issue with your car and its engine.

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