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White Smoke from Exhaust Pipe -- Blown Head Gasket

Updated on February 25, 2012

White Smoke from the Exhaust Pipe

If you've started noticing white smoke from the exhaust pipe of your car, then unfortunately, you're most likely experiencing a blown head gasket. The white smoke is usually made up of a combination of water and coolant, creating steam when it enters the engine and combustion chamber and is pushed out of the exhaust system. In any internal combustion engine, coolant is constantly flowing through the system in order to keep the entire engine cool. Ordinarily, this coolant is separated from the gasoline and oil and kept in its own tubes and hoses. But there are weak points in the system that can fail more readily than others. One of those is the head gasket. If a head gasket blows, depending on how severely it blows, coolant and water will begin to enter the combustion chamber and be pushed out of the exhaust system as white smoke.

Sometimes a head gasket will blow so severely that the car won't run at all. So much water and coolant leak into the combustion chambers of the various cylinders that it quenches the combustion totally and the car stops dead in its tracks. Other times, the leak is small and only a few cylinders are affected. This usually causes a misfire in one or more adjacent cylinders in the area where the head gasket leak has occurred. If this is the case and the car is still operating, you'll most likely notice the following symptoms, besides the obvious white smoke from the exhaust pipe:

  • Mysterious Coolant Leak
  • Lack of Power Due to Misfiring
  • Engine Running Hot or Overheating

This head gasket sealer formula can help eliminate white smoke from the exhaust system of your car as well as overheating issues and lack of power.
This head gasket sealer formula can help eliminate white smoke from the exhaust system of your car as well as overheating issues and lack of power.

How to Fix a Blown Head Gasket

Obviously, if a head gasket is blown too severely, the whole thing will need to be replaced. But if the leak or crack isn't severe and the car still seems to be operating in pretty good condition, there is another option. Head gasket sealer. Some people don't like using things like stop leak or sealers because they're afraid that they'll gunk up the inner workings of whatever system the solution is poured into. In the past, stop leak formulas and sealers have been poorly formulated, goopy solutions that did exactly what people are afraid of. But today's formulas are very effective and highly tested for good results. If you don't believe me, just read the testimonials for the product that I've listed for you below.

If you have white smoke from the exhaust pipe of your car, you may not have a huge amount of time before the whole system blows. It might be a stable leak, or it might be a prelude to a whole system failure. Head gasket sealer is about the only chance you have of stopping the leak or crack before it gets any worse. Your only other option really is to replace the head gasket, which can be an expensive proposition. The head gasket sealer I've listed below works by targeting the heat differential created by the crack in the system. Anywhere there's a crack, there will be an extreme differential in heat between the outside environment and the inside. When the head gasket sealer hits that temperature differential a chemical reaction takes place and the crack is sealed permanently.

How to Use Head Gasket Sealer

Though some formulas may vary, the above formula requires only that you pour the sealer into the radiator of the car while the engine is cool, replace the cap, turn on the heater full blast, and allow the car to sit at idle for 30 minutes. It doesn't get much simpler than that. The reason why they want you to keep the heater running is to cut down on overheating. Generally, when a head gasket is leaking, an engine will run hot, especially at idle. So keeping the heater running full blast will draw some of the heat away from the engine and keep it from overheating. Make sure you don't ever take off the radiator cap while the engine is hot. The cap is pressurized, and the liquid flowing through the system is very hot. It will erupt as hot steam and can burn your skin very easily. The sealer can stay in the system once it has done its job. If you feel safer about draining it out once your head gasket is fixed and starting over with new fluid, that's up to you. But this head gasket sealer formula should take care of that white smoke coming from your exhaust pipe and should help your car run better and more efficiently. For those who want to read more about head gasket repair, here's a really good and detailed article from Hardly Moving about a head gasket replacement.

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    • hardlymoving profile image

      hardlymoving 

      6 years ago from Memphis, TN

      Just check out my article on replacing the head gasket on a Honda Accord. Lots of work and parts to remove. Didn't want to do the job but the customer was begging me to do it. Heard too many stories on mechanics who couldn't fix it right the first time.

    • Benjimester profile imageAUTHOR

      Benji Mester 

      6 years ago from San Diego, California

      That's good advice. You seem to really know what you're talking about with head gaskets. Thanks for being willing to share. I'll have to take a closer look at the claims of this sealer. You're right about the drastic expansion when heated. That makes everything a bit trickier.

    • hardlymoving profile image

      hardlymoving 

      6 years ago from Memphis, TN

      Today's modern engines with aluminum blocks and heads expand and contract at 1.4 times the rate of cast iron. The mating surfaces on the block deck and cylinder head are designed to 'slide' against each other while the expansion and contraction are occurring each at different rates. The multi-layered stainless steel head gasket allows the head and block to 'slide' against each other and work in conjunction with TTY head bolts to stretch and shrink while maintaining matting tension. Both the block and head matting surfaces must have close to a mirror finish (RA factor of 30 or less) in order for the sliding to work properly.

      To avoid head gasket problems leading to replacement, pull over immediately if there's an engine cooling problem, check hoses, replace the thermostat if there's any sign of erratic temperature readings and maintain clean coolant.

    • Benjimester profile imageAUTHOR

      Benji Mester 

      6 years ago from San Diego, California

      Hmm, I'll have to look into that. I thought the newer sealers were specially formulated for aluminum since most heads these days are made from aluminum. Thanks for pointing that out so I can check into it.

    • hardlymoving profile image

      hardlymoving 

      6 years ago from Memphis, TN

      It may work okay with cast iron blocks and heads...but with today's aluminum blocks and heads utilizing multi-level stainless steel (MLS) headgaskets and Torque to Yield (TTY) head bolts, it won't work. Believe me, I've tried everything before doing the gasket replacement.

    • Benjimester profile imageAUTHOR

      Benji Mester 

      6 years ago from San Diego, California

      Supercharged is a different animal. But from what I've read, people with regular old engines are pretty happy overall with the sealer.

    • hardlymoving profile image

      hardlymoving 

      6 years ago from Memphis, TN

      Won't fix it for very long ... especially with forced induction (turbo-supercharged) engines.

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