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Old 02-29-04, 11:33 AM   #1
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What exactly does it mean when you car is giving out white smoke at startup??

everytime i start my car up (usually when the engine is cold..it gives out white smoke for about 10 minutes..then it goes away)...

im startin to get confused...
i've read numerous different things...some people tell me, my engine is going out.... others tell me, its normal for FD's....ive heard many different things..so is this normal or is my engine going out?
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Old 02-29-04, 11:44 AM   #2
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I have the same problem. I believe it could possibly be coolant or a turbo seel. I think your best bet would be to take it to a rotary specialist in your area, and have them diagnose the problem.
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Old 02-29-04, 11:47 AM   #3
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ALL cars give out 'white smoke' at start-up. It is just condensation usually.

EASY test: if the 'smoke' dissipates quickly, it is condensation. If it hangs around (think wood smoke) then you may have a seal going out.
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Old 02-29-04, 11:53 AM   #4
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Haven't you noticed that when its really cold outside, EVERY car throws white smoke during a cold start up?
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Old 02-29-04, 12:32 PM   #5
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Its just condensed air. The exhaust heats it up and it comes out as white smoke. If it lasts too long, then it could be a seal, but on startup its ok. Its also a good way to look for exhaust leaks. If you have white smoke coming out anywhere except the tailpipe, you may want to look into it.
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Old 02-29-04, 01:51 PM   #6
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My car occasionally burns off a little bit of oil at startup, especially when it's cold, but only lasts about 5 seconds max. When it's really cold, like 20 degrees or lower, I do get a lot of condensation burnoff that can last up to a few minutes. It's nothing to worry about though as long as it's not too thick. Smell the exhaust too while it's happening, oil, fuel, coolant and moisture all have very different smells.
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Old 02-29-04, 02:28 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by NukeGenius
Its just condensed air.
I think you meant water...

Moisture condenses out of the air inside the exhaust system as it cools. When it heats up again, the moisture is vaporized and exits as white smoke.

If the car smokes continually or especially under boost, then you've got problems. If it blows white smoke for a few minutes when it's cold out (as Flybye and Talek mentioned), nothing to worry about.

If you've got coolant seal problems, it should also (but not always) be accompanied by a sweetish smell, assuming you run antifreeze.
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Old 02-29-04, 02:29 PM   #8
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OK you caught me. Its the water in the air that condenses. I meant that it comes from the air. If I said that it was condensed water, people would wonder where it came from.
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Old 02-29-04, 06:56 PM   #9
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o ok, i got u guys..thanks...

the smoke lasts for about 5 minutes and it does throw out water as well.... it smells like fuel..im not sure if that makes a difference...
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Old 02-29-04, 07:09 PM   #10
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that sounds normal. the smoke should clear after a few minutes of warmup and be slightly blue in tint.

my car will have white smoke for a few minutes on startup, then it clears up until my next cold start-up.

if it smells like fuel try changing your spark plugs. Fds eat there plugs up quickly. a small amount of moisture in the ehaust at start up is normal, but once the car heats up it should not be visible.

Last edited by Enthu; 02-29-04 at 07:11 PM.
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Old 03-01-04, 04:36 AM   #11
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Mind does too. I've noticed that when I leave it out during the night the smoke is much thicker and lasts a little longer then those cold starts after sitting in the garage so the moisture theory might be correct. As for all cars doing that - I've never seen any car put out as much as a 7, I wonder if it just has something to do with the eng. type??
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Old 03-01-04, 05:14 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by Flybye
Haven't you noticed that when its really cold outside, EVERY car throws white smoke during a cold start up?
Thank YOU!

This topic is endless and just keeps going round and round like a hypochondriac worried about the length of their toenails.
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Old 03-01-04, 08:19 AM   #13
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Remember, one of the main products of combustion is water. When the engine and exhaust system are cold, this water condenses. As the car starts to heat up, it evaporates and shows up as steam. When everything is completely warm, the water no longer condenses at all, and you no longer see it.
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Old 03-01-04, 08:43 AM   #14
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So if you have a coolant seal going out , or an oil leak does it smoke upon every start up including warm starts and not just cold/overnight startup? Mine smokes upon startup too but only upon cold startup.
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Old 03-01-04, 12:40 PM   #15
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If you have a coolant seal gone, it'd smoke basically all the time because coolant would be leaking into the engine itself, not into the exhaust. If you have an oil leak it depends on where it is. If your turbo's leaking, then it'd blow oil smoke under boost. If your engine seals are leaking it'd smoke basically all the time.
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Old 03-01-04, 12:52 PM   #16
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It's not WHITE smoke.

It's steam.......... that will eventually contribute to the humidity and acid rain
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Old 03-01-04, 04:01 PM   #17
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Okay like jimlab said this topic keeps coming up. I am no one to really talk because i posted my concerns about a month ago.

Do a search on this forum for "white smoke" and you will get a load of threads. just read throught them.

I think its kind of weird no one mentioned the champaine test or to look at the plugs.

When your car is COLD take off the radiator cap and start the motor go back to your motor and look at your coolant if you notice bubbles... ehhhh sorry bad news. You can also check your plugs. Once again when your car is COLD remove your plugs and check to see if they are wet if so... ehhh bad news again. If your plugs are wet though you should have troubles at start up, and most likely a warning buzzer from the check coolant light.

Its probably just condensation, these FD have to be the hottest running cars and when they are cooling of they condense a lot of WATER. It takes a while to burn off into STEAM.

Good Luck
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Old 03-01-04, 06:23 PM   #18
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I hate to spoil the party, but if you are blowing white smoke for as much as five minutes you probably have an internal seal problem. The reason it stops after five minutes is because the main cat finally gets warmed-up to where it begins to work scrubbing clean your exhaust. Usually white smoke means coolant, blue smoke means oil.

EDIT: And I mean a fogger type cloud, not some wimpy white puff extending six or so inches from the tailpipe.

Last edited by jd to rescue; 03-01-04 at 06:30 PM.
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Old 03-01-04, 06:32 PM   #19
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"I hate to spoil the party, but if you are blowing white smoke for as much as five minutes you probably have an internal seal problem. The reason it stops after five minutes is because the main cat finally gets warmed-up to where it begins to work scrubbing clean your exhaust. Usually white smoke means coolant, blue smoke means oil.

EDIT: And I mean a fogger type cloud, not some wimpy white puff extending six or so inches from the tailpipe."

ENOUGH. Been done over and over and over.

This myth keeps going. Ignore the white smoke, do a proper test by looking at your plugs, monitoring coolant levels, and the bubble test.
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Old 03-01-04, 07:26 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by clayne
"I hate to spoil the party, but if you are blowing white smoke for as much as five minutes you probably have an internal seal problem. The reason it stops after five minutes is because the main cat finally gets warmed-up to where it begins to work scrubbing clean your exhaust. Usually white smoke means coolant, blue smoke means oil.

EDIT: And I mean a fogger type cloud, not some wimpy white puff extending six or so inches from the tailpipe."

ENOUGH. Been done over and over and over.

This myth keeps going. Ignore the white smoke, do a proper test by looking at your plugs, monitoring coolant levels, and the bubble test.
AGREED
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Old 03-01-04, 07:36 PM   #21
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slightly off the topic- does having a downpipe and/or catback have any effect on smoke at startup? I would assume a DP would because the factory precat is designed for cold start emmissions untill the main cat is warmed up.(i may be totally wrong on this so someone correct me if need be)
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Old 03-01-04, 07:49 PM   #22
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Somebody please close this thread.
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Old 03-02-04, 08:54 AM   #23
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To tobecontinued:

Yes, a DP would affect the amount of steam / oil smoke at startup, just as you surmised.
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Old 03-02-04, 11:43 AM   #24
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Send a message via AIM to phsst........ phsst......
that happened to me after i replaced my ast

check your ast fittings
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Old 03-02-04, 11:44 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally posted by clayne
"I hate to spoil the party, but if you are blowing white smoke for as much as five minutes you probably have an internal seal problem. The reason it stops after five minutes is because the main cat finally gets warmed-up to where it begins to work scrubbing clean your exhaust. Usually white smoke means coolant, blue smoke means oil.

EDIT: And I mean a fogger type cloud, not some wimpy white puff extending six or so inches from the tailpipe."

ENOUGH. Been done over and over and over.

This myth keeps going. Ignore the white smoke, do a proper test by looking at your plugs, monitoring coolant levels, and the bubble test.
Just a comment here.

I post my suggestions as just that suggestions. Despite the fact that I have only been posting on here for less than a year, does not mean I do not speak from experience. I have owned an FD since August of 1992. I probably was one of the first few hundred or so to purchase an FD in the US. I have put over 227,000 miles on two FDs since and have probably experienced every malady discussed on this entire forum. I do not go around trying to impress everyone with my experience every five minutes and I certainly have better things to do each day than hang out on a forum and mind meld with a bunch of gen Xers. When I make a suggestion, it comes from pure experience. It is offered free of charge in hopes that some one can benefit from the suggestion.

I have experienced everything from the earliest ECU idle problems to engine fires. I have been through three engines in the course of that time and know when an engine fails because of an apex seal and when it fails because of an internal o-ring seal. I have done all of my own mechanical work for the last five years. I have completely R & Rd one motor, rebuilt my transmission and have done everything else in between.

When my first engine went, one of the first indicators was a cloud of puffy white smoke on cold start-ups. Hence, the reason for my edit to clarify the nature of the smoke and to distinguish it from condensation.

I offer my advice from real experience and do not depend solely on what I have read on the forum. I also do not care if the subject has been posted once or a dozen times previously. I simply like the fact that new rotor heads are coming on line and I try to encourage the growth of that community by giving a little helpful advice. So lets stop being the forum police and have a little patience with the dialog folks.

Last edited by jd to rescue; 03-02-04 at 12:13 PM.
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Old 03-02-04, 11:44 AM
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