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Handy Examines What the Color of Your Car’s Exhaust Means


Color plays a vital role in the diagnosis and maintenance of your vehicle. According to Handy, while a lot of people may know about the color coding of your dashboard lights, most people are unaware of the significance of exhaust colors. They indicate different things that may be ignored or need immediate action. Here’s what the color of your car’s exhaust means:

The Meaning

1. Thin or Light White Smoke - Thin or light smoke emitted from your exhaust is quite normal. The smoke is usually made up of water vapor and you would notice it when you start your vehicle or during especially cold days. This smoke is the result of condensation that takes place naturally inside your exhaust system. As long as you own a car with a gasoline engine, this type of smoke would visit you every day, and it's nothing to worry about.

2. Gray/Blue Smoke - When your exhaust releases gray or blue smoke, business isn’t usual. This color of exhaust smoke usually indicates burning oil due to an oil leak. Many things can cause an oil leak and some of them include leaking valve seals, worn cylinder walls, and damaged piston rings.

If you notice blue smoke during acceleration, the problem usually lies with piston rings. If you encounter the smoke during deceleration, the head valve guides may be damaged. Basically, you should take your vehicle to a professional and tell them about the information you have if you see this smoke coming out of your exhaust.

3. Black Smoke - Black exhaust smoke is far from normal and it may be the final indicator that confirms your suspicions about your vehicle’s poor fuel economy. The black smoke comes out usually when your vehicle’s engine burns too much fuel and this may be the result of a clogged air filter, a blocked manifold, or even a fuel injection system that isn’t working properly. If your vehicle emits this kind of smoke from the exhaust, take it to a professional as soon as you can so that you can save money on every gallon of fuel.

4. Persistent Gray/Thick White Smoke - If you have a leaking head gasket, your car’s exhaust would continually emit a thick white smoke. The smoke gets its color and comes out continually since the coolant may be heated and thrown out from your tailpipe after it gets combusted from the excessive heat.

If you have a coolant leak, driving during the summer season would be a nightmare since you would end up stranded in the middle of nowhere with an overheated engine. This color of smoke may also indicate that you have a cracked cylinder head and that’s an equally alarming problem that needs swift professional care.


Handy suggests that you keep an eye out for the color of your exhaust smoke and take action if there is anything usual. That helps you to keep your vehicle in good condition and prevents expensive costs and replacements in the long term when it may be fixed with easy repairs.

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