White Smoke from Exhaust When Accelerating – What to Do

You barely even notice your car’s exhaust if it is working well. However, the minute it emits smoke, even white smoke, people will see it. In this article, I’ll discuss white smoke from the exhaust when accelerating – what to do.

If you notice white smoke from your exhaust pipe, it could be due to a head gasket leak. This leak must be stopped by applying a head gasket treatment. If the leak is severe, you need to replace the head gasket. You need to seal the leak before it can damage your engine more seriously.

It could be that the white smoke is steam produced by the condensation in your exhaust pipe, or it could also be a more severe problem, such as a leak in the engine coolant. But the most common cause is head gasket failure.

Read on to learn more about white smoke from your exhaust when you accelerate, its causes, and what you can do to fix it.

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White Smoke from Exhaust When Accelerating Hard

white smoke from exhaust when accelerating

If white smoke comes from your exhaust pipe when you accelerate, you need to stop your car to assess what caused it. Most commonly, this is caused by a leak in the head gasket of the engine. You need to control the leak by applying a head gasket treatment.

If the leak is severe, you may have to replace the head gasket of the engine entirely. This must be done to prevent more severe damage to your engine. The head gasket could be leaking because of a crack on its surface.

The white smoke can also be caused by a more severe leak in the engine coolant or condensation inside the exhaust pipe. A crack in the head gasket could also result in overheating or further contamination, which can seriously damage your engine.

You must not continue driving your car if white smoke comes from its exhaust. It could cause further and more severe damage to the engine. The white smoke can also come out while your car is idling.

But take heart. Although white smoke in the exhaust may spell serious engine issues, it is not always the case. You need to assess the problem before saying if it is severe.

Why Is White Smoke Coming Out of the Exhaust?

There are several reasons why white smoke will come out of your exhaust pipe while accelerating. Let’s discuss the most common causes of this issue:

1. Condensation

When you start the engine and rev it before driving your car, you may see white smoke from the exhaust. This white smoke could be the product of condensation. When you are cold starting your engine, it will begin to heat up.

A by-product is generated in this heating up which is water vapor. So, condensation is produced within your car’s exhaust system. The condensates changes into steam as the temperature inside the engine continue to heat up. White smoke is what you see as a result.

2. Coolant Leak

An engine coolant leak into the engine’s combustion chambers might also cause white smoke from the exhaust. This can happen if there’s a crack or a leak in the head gasket of the engine.

If the head gasket is cracked or leaking, it will allow the engine coolant to seep into the cylinders and cause the emergence of white smoke in the exhaust. The crack or leak must be repaired at once if you don’t want more severe damage to the engine.

If the leak or crack can no longer be repaired, you have to open up the head unit of the engine so you can access the broken gasket and replace it. That would be a costly repair because you have to dismantle so many things to open up an engine block of an existing and operational engine.

3. Not Driving Your Car Often

White smoke can come from your exhaust if you seldom drive your car or only drive it for short trips. If this is your driving habit, your exhaust system cannot warm up to the tip of the exhaust.

When water vapor is present inside the exhaust system, it will not be able to clear itself up because it will only experience a brief period of condensation.

This situation can corrode your exhaust pipes, resulting in exhaust leaking gases leaking out, which can also cause your car not to pass its emission test.

4. Damaged Cylinder Head

Even minor damage to the cylinder head will cause the coolant to leak into the inward parts of the engine. The coolant will be subjected to a very high temperature that it can’t withstand. That’s why you will see white smoke from the exhaust pipe.

The leaking coolant will also contaminate the engine oil, producing white smoke with a pleasant smell. Examining the dipstick of the engine oil will tell you if this is the situation inside your engine.

If the engine oil in the dipstick is foamy instead of dark brown, you may have a damaged cylinder head or a damaged gasket seal. You can also see the foam on the radiator cap.

5. ECU Error

The operation of your car is monitored and controlled by its ECU or electronic control unit (computer). If the ECU is not working correctly, it can cause problems in your car, one of which is the generation of white smoke in the exhaust pipe.

It can cause glitches in the engine’s fuel injector, which produces white smoke in your exhaust. You can fix this condition by removing the car battery.

This will restart the ECU and refresh its data automatically. If the white smoke persists, you must bring your car to the mechanic to assess and fix the cause of the problem.

6. Crack in the Engine Block

If there’s a crack in the engine block, smoke will be produced by the engine, including white smoke. This is a major engine issue. Repairing or fixing a cracked engine block is very expensive. To improve the problems, you must find another engine block with the same size and features as the cracked one.

7. Too Much Motor Oil

If you overfill your engine with too much motor oil, it can also cause the generation of white smoke in your exhaust. The smoke that will come out will be thick because the excess motor will get burned inside the engine block.

8. Broken Fuel Injector

The role of the fuel injector is to pump the correct amount of fuel into the engine’s combustion chambers at the precise time.

If it is malfunctioning, there will be a short circuit causing white smoke from the exhaust pipe. This issue can be fixed by simply replacing the bad fuel injector.

9. Engine Oil Leak

It can also happen that the head gasket of the engine can blow for whatever reason. When this occurs, the engine oil will leak from the valve seals or the piston rings. The leaking oil will seep into the combustion chamber and mix with the fuel from the exhaust.

In general, the color of the smoke is grayish or bluish, but it can also be white. This severe issue needs your attention, for your engine does not sustain any further damage. You may even have to replace the head gasket if it’s an extreme case. This is a costly proposition.

It’s a good idea to have extra oil as a backup, just in case.

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How to Prevent White Smoke from Forming in the Exhaust

white smoke from exhaust when accelerating hard
Check the Coolant Level

You can take several preventive measures to ensure that no white smoke will be produced whenever you are accelerating. Here are some tips on how you can do this:

1. Check the Coolant Level Regularly

As you drive your car, it uses coolant to keep the engine in its optimum operating condition. Over time, the coolant will be used up, and its level at the coolant reservoir will go down.

So, if possible, you always need to check the coolant level at least once a week. Don’t allow the coolant level to dip so much that its cooling effect will be reduced.

2. Check the Condition of the Head Gasket

By checking the head gasket condition, it does not mean that you have to open the cylinder head block. But you need to check its external conditions and look for signs of leaking or damage. If you do this regularly, you will be able to notice minor problems which can be easier to fix.

3. Clean the Fuel Injectors

Cleaning your engine’s fuel injectors will prevent your exhaust from generating white smoke or any colored smoke. To ensure this will always be the case, you must clean your fuel injectors at least once a month, if possible.

4. Change the Fuel Pump

If you drive a vehicle powered by a diesel engine, you should replace its fuel pump every 2,500 miles.

How to Assess White Smoke from the Exhaust

You need to determine the type of white smoke forming inside your engine and coming out of your exhaust pipe. Here are some tips in this regard:

1. Identify the Time the Smoke Appeared

Knowing when the white smoke shows up in your exhaust pipe would be best. If there’s white smoke from the exhaust after sitting idle for a few minutes, the problem may be different than the smoke that appears when your car is idling and not moving.

2. Identify the Kind of White Smoke

Observe the white smoke’s behavior. Is the smoke thick? Does it quickly evaporate as soon as it goes out in the air, or does it linger for a while before it disappears?

How about its smell? Is the odor acrid? Does it linger and leave soot on the vehicle or the pavement?

If the white smoke is dense or heavy, it is still steam. However, if this is the case, it indicates a more severe engine problem. It can be caused by a coolant leak seeping into the engine.

Perhaps the head gasket has failed. This condition needs fixing immediately because it can lead to more severe damage to the engine.

What to Do If White Smoke Appears in the Exhaust

The first thing you need to do once you notice that white smoke is coming out of your exhaust is stop driving immediately. You don’t know what caused the smoke to come out.

So, in order not to cause any further damage to the engine, you have to stop your car at the nearest safe spot on the side of the road.

The next thing is to check the coolant level of your car. If it is already low, and you don’t see any signs of leaking in the reservoir or anywhere else, it could be a blown or cracked head gasket. Next, check if there are signs of leaking in the engine block.

You can also use an engine block leak detector kit. This tool can detect if your coolant is already contaminated. Repairing or rebuilding a damaged engine is very costly and timely. So, it would be best if you did everything to prevent your head gasket or engine block from developing cracks.

How to Prevent the White Smoke from Coming Out of the Exhaust Pipe

Admittedly, a blown head gasket is very expensive to repair. And while this can happen to your engine, it is not always the case. However, it is the most common cause of white smoke from the exhaust pipe.

If you want to be able to save money, you can fix this problem yourself. That is, if you have the skills, know-how, tools, and time to do it. Understand that doing this yourself will be very difficult.

The better thing to do is always be on top of your vehicle’s maintenance and care schedule. By spotting the little problems, you can prevent them from getting big and harder to fix.

Frequently Asked Questions

white smoke from tailpipe when accelerating

We now come down to the frequently asked questions about this topic. If you still have some questions, you may find your answers in this section:

What Is the Meaning of White Smoke in the Exhaust When You Are Accelerating?

If you see white smoke from your exhaust pipe, there could be several meanings to it. It could be that your engine has a blown head gasket. In other words, there is a leak in your engine’s head gasket.

It could also mean there are condensates inside your exhaust pipe. As the steam blows out, it will appear as white smoke.

How Can I Stop White Smoke from Coming out of My Exhaust?

If the leading cause of the white smoke is a leak from a broken engine head gasket, you can stop the leak by applying a head gasket treatment. But if, after examining the head gasket and you find that it is already damaged beyond repair, you need to replace it entirely.

This problem needs to be fixed as soon as possible because if you don’t, it may lead to more serious engine damage, which could be more costly to repair.

You can also perform the following procedure:

  • Inspect the coolant reservoir level weekly to ascertain that there is no leak and it is not dipping dangerously low.
  • Once a week, visit the head gasket for signs of a leak and other damages.
  • Clean the fuel injectors each month
  • If a diesel engine powers your vehicle, replace its fuel pump every 2,500 miles

Can I Still Drive My Car Even If Its Exhaust Is Producing White Smoke?

It depends on the reason why white smoke is coming out of the exhaust. The wise thing to do is to have your car checked at the nearest car repair shop. Their mechanics will be able to tell whether it’s just a minor problem or a major issue that requires you not to use your car until the problem is fixed.

Can Too Much Oil Inside the Engine Also Cause White Smoke in the Exhaust?

Overfilling the engine with too much motor oil will also cause white smoke in your exhaust. You will see dense white smoke on your exhaust pipe because the excess motor oil will get burned inside the engine block.

In Closing: What to Do When White Smoke Comes From Exhaust While Accelerating?

When you see white smoke coming out of your exhaust, it may be caused by a leaking head gasket. You must stop the leak by sealing it with a head gasket treatment.

You may need to replace the head gasket if the leak is severe. This must be done as soon as possible so the leak won’t cause more severe damage to your engine.

Although the most common cause of white smoke is head gasket failure, it could also result from condensation inside the exhaust pipe or a more severe engine coolant leak. You must stop your car if white smoke comes from your exhaust. 

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