There’s nothing worse than the panic that sets in when you’re glancing at your rear-view mirror and notice a cloud of black smoke coming from the back of your car. What now? Do you pull over or just carry on driving? Is this going to be an expensive exercise or is it minor maintenance? Different types of exhaust emissions can mean different things. Sometimes it just means that some minor maintenance is needed, while other cases can mean something a lot more serious.
The Automobile Association (AA) notes that diesel or petrol engine exhaust gases should be colourless. “Any smoke colour emanating from an exhaust, signals that it is not running properly, or may even be close to mechanical failure,” says the AA.
Here is a simple guide to understanding what exhaust smoke emissions really mean and what you can do to fix it:
White smoke: This smoke is created when the engine is burning excessive amounts of coolant or water. This smoke can be created by condensation in the internal areas of the motor or if there is a leak where the coolant is entering the piston. The white smoke may also be due to the leakage of anti-freeze or transmission fluid.
Remedy: Check for any leakage in coolant or transmission fluid and ensure that all fluid levels are at their recommended optimum.
Black smoke: This occurs when the combustion of the fuel is not burnt completely. In other words there was too much fuel and it continued burning into the exhaust side of the engine. This is why black smoke is emitted with a powerful fuel odour.
Remedy: Check the oil dipstick to check if the excess fuel has mixed with your oil. Check your manufacturer’s manual to confirm whether you are using the right grade of fuel.
Blue smoke: This is created when oil is burned in the cylinder that occurs generally when the engine is idling or running at high speeds. Oil can leak from many sources and when it reaches the cylinders it is burned off during the combustion stroke of the motor. The oil smoke carries a tell-tale odour.
Remedy: Check for sources of oil leakages in your vehicle. These could be due to leaky valves, O-rings and gaskets.
If you are one of the many South Africans going away for this holiday season, make sure that your car has been checked and properly serviced by a qualified mechanic. There is nothing worse than having your holiday plans delayed or cancelled due to car issues. Beame Protect will also keep you covered from life’s unexpected little mishaps with Accident Assist, Fines Assist, Licence Assist, Pothole Assist and Bail Assist. So make sure you don’t leave home without it.
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