White Smoke

Tiny
TULPA
  • MEMBER
  • 1999 MERCURY COUGAR
  • V6
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 121,000 MILES
I have white smoke coming from under the hood on the passenger side and it also comes out by the driver side front tire. I cannot tell for sure where it is coming from. It only happens after the car has warmed up. What should I check first? There is oil or something spilled all over the engine could it just be burning that off? It is my sons first car and we have not driven it very far. Also it sputters a bit when idle and accelerating. Hoping it just needs new plugs.
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Wednesday, July 27th, 2016 AT 2:04 PM

26 Replies

Tiny
WRENCHTECH
  • EXPERT
If you have oil spilled on a place where it drips onto the exhaust, you will definitely get smoke and a nasty smell. Check all your fluid levels to see what fluid you are losing.
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Wednesday, July 27th, 2016 AT 2:59 PM
Tiny
TULPA
  • MEMBER
After letting the car sit for about two hours there is an oil spot on the ground. So I guess it is leaking oil, now to find out from where. Could it be the head gasket?

About the sputtering, do you think it just needs new plugs and wires?
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Wednesday, July 27th, 2016 AT 3:50 PM
Tiny
FREEMBA
  • EXPERT
Start the engine with the hood open. Watch as the engine warms up to see where the smoke originates. This will give you a good starting point to track down the leak. Let us know where the smoke originates and we can give you some of the most prevalent items to check.
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Wednesday, July 27th, 2016 AT 3:53 PM
Tiny
WRENCHTECH
  • EXPERT
No, it is not going to be a head gasket. It could be any number of other things. It needs to be inspected carefully.
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Wednesday, July 27th, 2016 AT 3:54 PM
Tiny
TULPA
  • MEMBER
Let it run for about ten minutes and it did not smoke, all the oil splatter is on the passenger side, driver side is clean. Oil level is low and power steering fluid is low. I also noticed a constant clicking coming from the engine, not sure where exactly but it sounds near the spark plugs.
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Wednesday, July 27th, 2016 AT 4:34 PM
Tiny
FREEMBA
  • EXPERT
The ticking is likely the valve lifters. They are making noise because of the lack of oil.

Seems like you have a power steering leak and an oil leak. Clean the area(s) that have oil on them. Drive the car a relatively short distance four to five miles at normal speeds. Then open the hood and inspect the area. The leaks will be near their origins, this will help determine the source of the leak.

With the information you have shared, it seems the engine has a valve cover gasket leak on that side. You also seem to have a power steering pump or hose leak. Check these areas carefully.
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Wednesday, July 27th, 2016 AT 8:09 PM
Tiny
TULPA
  • MEMBER
Could I wrap all the electrical connections with plastic, spray some degreaser on it and hit it with a pressure washer?
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Thursday, July 28th, 2016 AT 9:13 AM
Tiny
RIVERMIKERAT
  • MEMBER
Yes, you could do that. However, I prefer to recommend leak detector dye. It is a fluorescent dye that will turn colors when hit with a black light. Many chain parts store will rent the light when they sell the dye.
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Thursday, July 28th, 2016 AT 11:05 AM
Tiny
TULPA
  • MEMBER
I have heard of this I will check Auto zone for it.
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Thursday, July 28th, 2016 AT 11:17 AM
Tiny
WRENCHTECH
  • EXPERT
I would make dye the last resort. Once you put that stuff in there, it never goes away and you will have dye everywhere. It is easy enough to spot an oil leak if you clean it first.
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Thursday, July 28th, 2016 AT 12:46 PM
Tiny
TULPA
  • MEMBER
Okay, I will first try and wipe it all down, some of it is going to very hard to reach, that is why I asked about spraying it with my pressure washer.
Assuming it is a valve cover gasket leak would it be leaking near the top?
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Thursday, July 28th, 2016 AT 1:20 PM
Tiny
WRENCHTECH
  • EXPERT
You can use some spray degreaser like 409 and a hose but just be very careful with any electronics and the water. Dry it off quickly.
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Thursday, July 28th, 2016 AT 1:24 PM
Tiny
TULPA
  • MEMBER
Okay, it seems I was incorrect, there is oil all over the bottom left and right. A few drops on the ground on the driver's side more on the passenger side. Could have more than one leak? Oil has been hitting the belt and it flung it everywhere. It appears to me it has been a problem for a while oil near the top is dryer than the bottom. I have not lifted the car just yet, it makes me nervous getting under one when lifted. I cleaned off what I could reach let it idle for ten to fifteen minutes I could not see where it was dripping from but did start smelling burnt oil.

The clicking continues even when oil level is full. Did it get driven without oil and caused another problem?

I think I found the source of the coolant leak I took a picture. I do not know if it is missing a clamp or what and the rubber is bent like it is being pushed out of place.
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Thursday, July 28th, 2016 AT 4:14 PM
Tiny
TULPA
  • MEMBER
I do not know if you can see it or not but it is under that spring.
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Thursday, July 28th, 2016 AT 4:16 PM
Tiny
WRENCHTECH
  • EXPERT
Finding oil leaks can be very tricky. If you are correct about the belt slinging it around, that would indicate one of the belt driven components, likely the power steering pump but you should have a very noticeable loss of power steering fluid from the reservoir.

Oil runs downhill and then spreads so when looking for leaks you are always looking for the highest point that you find oil. This is why it is rather important to get it all cleaned off first before looking. Sometimes you need to use mirrors to find the actual source of the leak.
When you do find a leak at a high point, that does not mean it was the only leak. This is why you start repairing from the top and continue leaning and watching for other leaks.
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Thursday, July 28th, 2016 AT 4:22 PM
Tiny
TULPA
  • MEMBER
Power steering fluid is low, but bought the car yesterday and only drove it home. Guess I will need to top it off.

Could you see what I was talking about from that picture? I can hear air coming out of it.
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Thursday, July 28th, 2016 AT 4:31 PM
Tiny
WRENCHTECH
  • EXPERT
No, I could not see anything coolant related.
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Thursday, July 28th, 2016 AT 4:34 PM
Tiny
TULPA
  • MEMBER
Not sure why I said coolant. I meant power steering. I do not know what it is called so it is hard for me to say what it is. Google and YouTube is the only training I have had. Lol
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Thursday, July 28th, 2016 AT 5:02 PM
Tiny
RIVERMIKERAT
  • MEMBER
I am seeing what looks like a 3/4" hose under the throttle return spring that should have a clamp. WT is correct about the leak detector dye, but it is the quickest and easiest way to track down a fluid leak.
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Saturday, July 30th, 2016 AT 9:24 AM
Tiny
TULPA
  • MEMBER
So just replace the hose? What is the clamp called? Or does it matter.
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Saturday, July 30th, 2016 AT 10:15 AM

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