Posted by Ronan Kelly Car Questions, Services

Disaster! My vehicle is smoking like a Cuban Cigar What can I do?

no smoke additive for car engines

Turning the key in your ignition first thing in the morning and you get this plume of smoke?

Or when you drive uphill and look in the rear view mirror, and you see that horrible black smoke It can be a very frustration feeling.

So what caused this situation?

Firstly, it doesn’t take much for an engine to start smoking. But you should know that many variables can cause the engine to start smoking. Here are the top 5 reasons we found that caused this problem.

  • Not getting your car serviced on time. A car engine and fuel system are crucial to the vehicle’s performance and keeping them clean require standard regular maintenance procedures. Regular oil changes and servicing the vehicle. Missing or prolonging oil changes beyond their recommended changing intervals can also lead to further contaminant issues. Without regular maintenance, contamination will build up in the vehicle over time and they always affect the vehicle’s fuel economy and the longevity of the motor.
  • Ignoring the tell-tale signs.  The vehicle wasn’t purchased new; then there is no way to tell how often the car had received maintenance before you bought it. If the vehicle has received poor maintenance throughout its life, then there are tell-tale signs of issues brewing in the motor. Such problems could be overheating, burning oil, loss of power, loss of acceleration, inconsistent idle and reduced KPG. Ignoring these tell-tale signs is a surefire way to ensure that the vehicle, in the future, will require costly repairs.


  • Typical engine issues. There is a large number of vehicles produced from 1995-2005 that have common sludge problems with the motors starting at 105,000 KLM. These sludge problems cause oil to be burned and the exhaust to smoke. If this sludge is not removed in these vehicles, then starting at 115,000 KLM the vehicle may experience a cracked head, blown gaskets, or something more severe that would require thousands spent rectifying the problem.
  • Randomly smoking: For every case, there is always an exception. Several customers reported their vehicle had received proper and regular maintenance throughout its entire life, yet the car randomly started smoking. For these cases, no cause can be easily identified, but the smoking must be dealt with before it causes further damage to the motor.


  • Home-made remedies or cheap cleaners: Majority of people use YouTube to learn in this day and age. However, there are a lot of bad videos and even worse advice when it comes to proper vehicle maintenance. Some examples we are referencing include using diesel fuel, kerosene, or water as an engine flush. Other examples are people using products that have seen no refinement in their chemical formula throughout the years. Often, these cheap flush products eat away at engine gaskets and critical seals which can cause the motor to leak oil. Additionally, the cheap flush can break large chunks of contamination free. It does not dissolve the contamination entirely and as a result, the debris ends up being lodged somewhere else in the motor which in turn causes the vehicle to start smoking.

Now you know the common reasons for how a car would start smoking, let’s take a look at why an engine would start to smoke or burn oil. Based on our customer data, these are the (7) most common reasons why an engine would start burning oil or start smoking:

  • Contamination: Have you ever seen the oil come out of a vehicle during an oil change? Ever wonder why it is much darker than new oil?. Oil only changes colour when contamination is present in the engine. The oil mixes with the contamination and lubricates your motor with the debris mixed in. It’s not the ideal situation. Over time, these contaminants can turn into deposits left behind in the motor and can lead to clogged PVC valves. If the deposits are not taken care of, then the deposits can grow in size and eventually reduce the air flow and the ability of the motor oil to provide effective lubrication to the entire engine.


  • Bad gaskets and cracked heads: If you have a bad gasket, it typically can be pretty obvious because your vehicle will be smoking a noticeable amount. Typically, a blown head gasket or cracked head would make the vehicle have continuous, thick, white smoke that never stops or decreases in volume or intensity. However, sometimes they can be a real challenge to diagnose because they can be a minor leak or crack. If you suspect a bad gasket or head, inspect your oil to look for signs of water, coolant, or antifreeze. If you find water, coolant, or antifreeze in your motor oil, then it’s a good indication you might have a bad gasket or head.


  • Oil blow-by: This happens when your piston rings are less than capable of maintaining a proper seal in the cylinder. Often scratches or deep grooves on the cylinder walls prevent rings from sealing properly. The oil then reaches the combustion chamber in a greater volume than is expected and produces smoke from the combustion of the gas and oil. Oil blow by is most commonly caused by contamination and deposits in the motor oil. Another issue caused by oil blow-by is when the gas moves past the piston rings into the crankcase. Once gas enters the crankcase, it dilutes the oil and can cause further damage to the motor.


  • Valve train and lifters: Lifters and valves can tick, stick and not seat correctly. Typically, every one of these symptoms is caused by contamination in the motor. If left untreated, the motor will continue to burn oil until the contamination have been removed. If left untreated for an extended period of time, the increase in oil combustion inside the motor will lead to further contamination and future mechanical issues.


  • Foreign substances added to engine: Some might be shocked at how many people try water or diesel fuel as an engine flush. Yet, almost every week we have someone who tried it and now has a motor smoking worse than before. Never use a home-made remedy in your vehicle. They are not formulated to protect the engine and they almost always create additional issues for the person trying to engineer their own solution.


  • Stuck piston rings and clogged oil rings: Contamination and debris from dirty oil can end up clogging oil rings and causing piston rings to become stuck. Both issues can create blow-by as mentioned earlier which will cause the vehicle to burn oil.


  • Overheating: Overheating is a very serious issue that needs to be addressed immediately. Typically, overheating is caused by an increase in friction in the motor due to a lack of oil lubricating a portion of the motor. Normally, this issue (when it is not related to the heating and cooling system), are caused by contamination and debris in the motor oil. The contamination in a motor can block oil pick-up and oil return lines which prevents the oil lubrication system from working properly. When the oil lubrication system cannot work properly, friction increases and so does the heat in the motor. This in-turn can warp metal, melt seals, and ruin gaskets. All symptoms that can cause the vehicle to burn oil and smoke.

Now that you know how a vehicle would smoke and why it would start to smoke, let’s take a look at (2) steps you can implement to stop a vehicle from burning oil and smoking in less than 20 minutes without having to spend thousands at an automotive repair facility.

  1. Remove all engine contamination with an engine flush. This is the first step anyone should take if their vehicle is smoking.
  2. Restore proper oil lubrication performance. After you have removed the contaminations in your motor with the engine flush and filled the vehicle up with new motor oil, it is now time to use a product like Bardahl No Smoke or STPThis is not a liquid mechanic but if your on a budget maybe give it a shot.  As always please give me a call for any advice on your car engine.    Ronan Kelly 014059077

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