You may have recently changed the oil in your car, truck, or SUV, feeling confident that you followed all the correct steps. Then when you turned on the vehicle you were greeted by an unsettling sight: white smoke billowing from the exhaust pipe. You know that’s not normal, but the root cause remains a mystery, prompting your presence here. You ask, why is my car blowing white smoke after an oil change? Well, there are many reasons for white smoke. What you need to know right now is that the white smoke coming from the exhaust needs to be fixed as soon as possible.
Let’s get to the bottom of this!
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Can an Oil Change Cause White Smoke Out of the Exhaust?
Yes, an oil change can be the main reason your exhaust is blowing white smoke. A car will emit white fumes after an oil change because the oil is getting burned off improperly. Usually, this occurs after an oil change, but there are some other issues that will make your vehicle expel white smoke. If you notice white smoke after an oil change, it’s essential to investigate the issue further to determine the exact cause.
Why White Smoke Is a Problem
The emissions from your vehicle can tell you a lot about how it is functioning. Since the smoke blown from the exhaust is composed of the byproducts from combustion in the engine, there may be some color to the fumes. However, most of the time, the fumes should be barely visible or slightly gray, such as when you just cold-started your car in the winter.
White, blue, and black smoke is not normal. It’s a problem, one that points to your vehicle burning through excessive amounts of oil. This, in and of itself, is distressing. When your engine burns through oil, it loses the much-needed lubrication required to keep the engine components safe from friction and heat. But that isn’t the only thing you need to worry about.
Damaged cylinders, the wrong oil, broken head gaskets, and much more can send your car to the mechanic faster than you would expect.
Reasons For Blowing White Smoke After an Oil Change
Keeping your car in tip-top shape is important. That is why you need to diagnose what is happening right away. To help you get to the bottom of the issue causing white smoke after an oil change, here is a list of reasons to narrow it down:
Excess Oil in the Sump
While going down the road, you might notice a bluish-white smoke rising from behind your car in one of the mirrors. Yeah, that’s not good. Bluish-white smoke is a sign that there is oil around the sump, usually caused by putting too much oil into the reservoir. If there is too much in there, it could cause issues. Your best option is to remove some oil.
You Used The Wrong Oil
Engine oil has different grades of viscosity for a reason. If you put in the wrong kind, it could cause complications. For one, the oil will not burn correctly, leading to more of it getting into the exhaust.
To avoid this issue, always consult the vehicle’s manual or do a quick check on Google before swapping one oil for another. You should stick with the manufacturer’s recommendation. The wrong oil grade may cause white smoke.
Fortunately, this problem is not too hard to amend, though you will probably be upset about replacing the oil shortly after changing it previously.
A Cylinder is Cracked
Cracked cylinders are one of the ways that oil gets into the engine and makes white smoke blow from the exhaust. Of course, the white smoke is not the only symptom you will be experiencing. Other signs include rough running, engine misfires, low coolants, combustion gases in the cooling system, and warning lights popping up on your dash. You have to get this checked by an auto technician, as this could cause other severe problems within your vehicle.
The likelihood is that if your vehicle wasn’t smoking before the oil change then a cylinder shouldn’t be cracked. Although less likely, it’s still best to list it here.
Blown Head Gasket
Here is another thing that might make you nervous. Sometimes, white smoke means that there is something wrong with the cooling system that is exposing coolant to a high temperature and pressure, such as a blown or breached head gasket seal. Since the head gasket seal is designed to fail before something more essential, like the engine block, does.
If you believe a blown head gasket is truly the cause, it is best to take your vehicle to a professional, as the problem might require an expert and their equipment. Get it taken care of swiftly.
Like the cracked cylinder, this is less likely to be a cause if white smoke wasn’t present before the oil change.
This video explains some of the signs that point to a blown head gasket:
The Valve Stem Seal Has a Leak
When the valve stem seal is not functioning properly, the oil may seep into the combustion chamber. In there, the oil burns up and leaves as white smoke. This is often a slow process, so you may not notice any symptoms for a while. However, you may notice that the accelerating power of your vehicle is not what it used to be.
The good news is that valve stem seals are not too difficult to replace. The little rubber pieces are located on either side of the valves. You will need a decent pair of pliers to remove them. Optionally, take your car to an auto body repair shop.
Does Low Oil Cause White Smoke?
No, low oil does not cause white smoke. You won’t see smoke from the exhaust when your oil level is low, not unless the engine is burning up. Keep in mind that everything in your engine needs balance—not too much or too little oil, for example.
How Do I Fix White Smoke Coming From The Exhaust?
Because there are many reasons for white smoke, you may need a mechanic to help you out. A mechanic will be able to do an engine diagnostic, as well as clean valves, and the fuel injectors, and give you the correct oil viscosity. If you feel confident, you may be able to do this all yourself. Look at the hoses connected, and ensure the exhaust system, including the muffler, is all in working order.
In the event you look at all of this and still cannot find an answer, it could be an issue with your combustion system. Again, this will need the attention of a mechanic.
Can I Drive My Car When It’s Blowing White Smoke?
Now that you know why white smoke comes from the exhaust after an oil change, you may be wondering if it is possible to drive your car while the issue persists. White smoke might not seem dangerous outright, but you should limit driving your car if you see it. In fact, the only place you should drive to is the mechanic. To continue driving your vehicle without addressing the issue, the damage will be incredibly severe.
You may have been wondering, “Why is my car blowing white smoke after an oil change?” Hopefully, you have your answer. The wrong kind of oil, excess oil around the sump, valve stem seal leaks, and other issues can all lead to white smoke. The consequences can be severe if you do not get this issue corrected as soon as possible. To avoid it, make sure you are doing routine maintenance on your vehicle and read the owner’s manual before oil changes.