Troubleshooting a Smoking Exhaust Pipe

Exhaust Pipe

If you discover that your exhaust pipe is smoking, you might feel frustrated or even panicked. However, if you are aware of the possible causes of the problem, you will be in a better position to locate and rectify the situation.

Burning Oil

In the event that engine oil finds its way into the cylinder of the car, it can create smoke as it burns off along with the fuel. This situation can come about due to defective or worn seals or gaskets that are in place to prevent the oil from escaping into the engine. Just a small amount of oil can cause smoke to be produced from the exhaust pipe and a large amount can cause the spark plug to misfire. Repairing or replacing any components that are failing to provide a sufficient seal will stop the problem of smoke coming from the tail pipe.


When water gets into the cylinder, it turns to steam as it burns off and this can appear as white smoke coming from the tail pipe. This problem will occur regularly in cold weather and you only need worry about it if it continues to occur in warmer weather. Rectifying this will mean looking for the cause of the leak and repairing it.


An exhaust pipe can produce smoke where the choke that makes up part of the carburetor is closed, which could either be because it is stuck or defective. The choke will need to be repaired or replaced to prevent the exhaust from smoking.


Fuel injectors that can make up part of an engine can create smoke if they are leaking and they will need to be replaced if they are causing the problem. In addition, you must check the cylinder heads, including the gaskets, to ensure that they have not suffered any damage. If the engine block has suffered a crack, this can result in black smoke coming from the tail pipe. Where this is the case, the entire engine block will need to be replaced.

Intake Manifold

Where transmission fluid finds its way into the manifold, a smoking exhaust pipe can result. As entry is made through the vacuum modulator, this will need to be replaced if defective to prevent the problem.


Check the radiator to ensure that anti-freeze is not leaking from it and entering the cylinder. When antifreeze ends up somewhere it is not supposed to be, the engine will burn it alongside the fuel which will produce smoke from the exhaust pipe. This can occur when the gaskets that prevent the antifreeze from leaving its place have suffered damage and are allowing the substance to leak through. The gaskets will need to be replaced to stop the exhaust smoking.

Air Filter

Check the air filters of the car to ensure that they have not become clogged with dirt or grime as this can result in smoke being produced. Clean or replace the air filters to rectify the problem.