When there's white smoke, check first for coolant leak

  • Article by: PAUL BRAND
  • Updated: May 30, 2014 - 10:55 PM

Q: I own a 2003 Honda Accord. In April a large amount of white smoke came out of the front of the car when I started it. It has happened three more times, coming from the rear of the car. Three times the engine was cold, once warm. The Honda dealer found nothing but told me to keep track of these instances. Nothing has leaked on the garage floor.

A: White smoke from an automobile can be caused by three things: condensing moisture, heated coolant and vaporized fuel. In your case I’d be suspicious of an external coolant leak that collects on some part of the exhaust system and is heated into smoke as the exhaust system heats up, leaving no evidence on the garage floor.

Do you smell the semi-sweet odor of antifreeze/coolant? Before you start the cold engine next time, open the hood and visually inspect for any coolant in the engine compartment. Make sure you are monitoring the coolant level in the radiator/reservoir.

If the white smoke is exclusively from the exhaust pipe, a leaking cylinder head gasket would be a suspect. In this case the coolant would end up being heated in the combustion chambers and blown out the exhaust as the engine starts.

White smoke from the exhaust on a cold morning start is normal condensation of moisture that has collected in the exhaust system overnight, and is of no concern.

White smoke from vaporized but unburned fuel — unlikely in this case — can be caused by a failed or stuck fuel injector allowing raw fuel to be carried through and vaporized in the exhaust system as it is heated.

Q: My 2011 Subaru is squeaking so loudly I’m ready to tear my hair out! It started on the driver’s side just behind the driver’s seat, moved to under the driver’s seat near the middle, and then under the console. All three areas are squeaking! It’s been on a lift and nothing that can be seen is an issue, according to the mechanic. A body shop owner with 40 years’ experience found that the back of the rear seat hadn’t been put in place properly and the spare tire was not tightened down securely. The noise lessened but is still a major nuisance.

A: The most common causes of body squeaks and rattles are something flexing or something loose. The entire exhaust system and its hangers should be inspected for evidence of flexing, movement or contact. Next, all engine, transmission and driveshaft mounts should be checked.

If the squeaking is rhythmical and varies with engine or road speed, the noise may be coming from the transmission or driveshaft CV joints. Subaru issued a service bulletin addressing a high-pitched sound originating in the transmission extension housing. Thermal expansion can potentially damage a pre-loaded bearing, causing the noise.

Q: I have a 2007 Dodge Caravan with the automatic door lock feature. When I drive in the rain, the locks start locking and unlocking rapidly for 60-90 seconds then quit for a while, then do it again. This continues even after removing the key but quits after being parked for a while. I tried to disable the auto lock, using the instructions in the manual, but was unsuccessful. There is no separate fuse that controls this. Any thoughts?

A: Water/moisture is grounding the electrical circuit that operates the locks. A scan tool should be able to identify specific fault codes with the power door lock system, but you could try “watering” each window for a minute or so, one at a time, with a garden hose. Water may be getting by the window seals, running down the inside of a door and grounding the circuit, causing the rapid cycling of the locks. This may help you pinpoint which door or cylinder lock switch or connector is getting wet.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Yankees - M. Pineda 12:07 PM
Toronto - D. Hutchison
Detroit - M. Scherzer 12:10 PM
Chicago WSox - C. Sale
Chicago Cubs - F. Doubront 1:15 PM
St. Louis - J. Masterson
Cincinnati - A. Simon 3:05 PM
Pittsburgh - V. Worley
Minnesota - K. Gibson 6:05 PM
Baltimore - C. Tillman
Philadelphia - J. Williams 6:10 PM
NY Mets - B. Colon
Miami - J. Cosart 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Harang
Boston - A. Webster 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Odorizzi
Cleveland - T. Bauer 6:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
Detroit - K. Ryan 6:10 PM
Chicago WSox - C. Bassitt
Texas - R. Ross Jr. 6:10 PM
Houston - S. Feldman
Colorado - T. Matzek 7:10 PM
Arizona - V. Nuno
Chicago Cubs - T. Wada 7:15 PM
St. Louis - M. Gonzales
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke 7:40 PM
San Diego - I. Kennedy
Milwaukee - M. Fiers 8:05 PM
San Francisco - J. Peavy
Oakland - J. Samardzija 8:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Rasmus
Washington - S. Strasburg 8:10 PM
Seattle - R. Elias
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
BYU 35 FINAL
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 13 FINAL
Arizona 58
Penn State 10 3rd Qtr
UCF 3
Troy 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Colorado 3:00 PM
Seattle
New England 4:00 PM
Toronto FC
Columbus 6:30 PM
Montreal
FC Dallas 7:30 PM
Chicago
Real Salt Lake 9:30 PM
San Jose
Portland 9:30 PM
Vancouver FC
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Chicago 6:00 PM
Indiana
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close