2013 Rav4 White Smoke from Exhaust Pipe?


I recently noticed a lot of smoke coming out of exhaust pipe. Please checkout video below:

Video was taken after I drove for about 40mins. Then parked (engine still running). Then immediately recorded the video. I also noticed smoke while I’m driving too. I checked yesterday and saw some water (not a lot, just drops) dripping down the pipe.

Weather is a bit cold these days. Here in WA, its usually in the range of 35-40 degree.

Is that normal? Please let me know. Thanks for your help.

Water dripping from the exhaust pipe is normal when the engine hasn’t warmed completely up. Its not normal on any of the cars I’ve driven after driving 40 minutes. That amount of white smoke wouldn’t be normal on any of my cars either, after driving 40 minutes. Here’s the test you need to do: Is it loosing any coolant? You’ll have to check the level at both the plastic overflow tank and at the radiator (when the engine is cold). If there’s no coolant loss, it might be nothing, just water vapor condensing b/c of the cold weather. Or it might be due to some other engine problem which is affecting the mixture.

It’s also normal in very cold weather.

Your engine actually makes water vapor. The hydrogen molecules in the hydrocarbon (gasoline) bond with oxygen atoms and form H2O… water. The carbon molecules bond with teh osyb\gen to form CO and CO2. Since gasoline is 50% hydrogen, the system makes more water than you’d think.

When the exhaust system is cold, the water vapor being carried out by the exhaust condenses on the inside of the pipes and drips out the tail pipe end. When the ambient air is cold, it can also condense around particulates in the air as it exits the pipe and form vapor clouds. It’s exactly the same process that causes jet aircraft to leave vapor clouds.

I looked at the video and it appears to me to be perfectly normal water vapor condensing in cold air. On really cold days these clouds can get downright large, even after a long drive. You can even see the clouds following cars down the highway as if they were attached to the tailpipe. It’s common in NH in really cold weather… and was an every day thing in North Dakota where it stays bone-cold all winter.

From looking at the pavement in the video it appears damp there. Steam from the exhaust doesn’t dissipate well when the humidity is high and the temperature is cool. Yes it is normal to see steam under these conditions, no I wouldn’t suspect any type of engine failure.

Definitely not normal on a warmed up engine. Does your engine temp gauge go into the normal range? Are you losing any oil? How many miles on your car and are you still under warranty?

If you are, get to the dealer and get it documented right away.

With respect, it is perfectly normal in cold climates even on a warmed up engine if the ambient air temperature is cold enough.

If it did that in June on a warm day I would suspect a problem. Now is a bad time to diagnose disasters when it could just be a normal event. Thanks for reminding me that it might be a good idea to get out of the vehicle while it’s running and look around. I haven’t done that once and my 2013 Rav4 is two years and nine months old.

Check the coolant level and color, check the engine oil and condition (foaming/etc), also check under the oil fill cap after the car has been warmed up. If all is fine, then don’t worry (just worry enough to check these things periodically, like any car!).

On the side note, we are shopping for a similar CUV and the RAV is high on my wife’s list. How does it drive on the freeway?

Looks perfectly normal for a cool damp day in Washington state.

Freeway driving is great even if it’s a little noisy. It goes where you want it to and doesn’t try to sneak off the road. Mine gets almost 29 MPG even at 75 MPH which is the speed limit on the 115 mile stretch in Northern Maine. The trip I go on has a lot of 70 MPH driving and a little 65 with country driving at lower speeds at the top end of the trip. Power is great with the 2.5 engine and 6 speed automatic transmission. Ramp acceleration is OK but transmission goes into too low a gear for the torque of the engine.

I have to agree w/ @“oldtimer 11” , it doesn’t look normal to me for a completely warmed up engine. I used to live in a pretty cold winter climate at a Colorado ski town at 6500 + feet, and I’d see nothing coming from the tail pipe on either my truck or Rabbit on cold days once the engine was warmed up. At considerably colder temperatures than 30 degrees F.

Now it’s true when I’d first start the truck in the morning it would pour white smoke out the tail pipe like a train driven by a steam engine, a whole lot more than is shown in that vdo; but that would stop once the engine was completely warmed up. The only difference might be that the air is very dry in winter Colorado. Humidity was like 10% in the winter. So if the OP lives in a climate with a cold winter and higher humidity, then that could be normal.

But there’s no need to guess. If the coolant and oil levels are staying constant, then OP knows it isn’t burning oil or coolant in the cylinders, which I think is the main concern.

Normal? I assume OP looked at other cars during his 40 minute drive and most had no such smoke…right, OP? How many miles on this vehicle?

I used to live in a pretty cold winter climate at a Colorado ski town at 6500 + feet, and I’d see nothing coming from the tail pipe on either my truck or Rabbit on cold days once the engine was warmed up. At considerably colder temperatures than 30 degrees F.

Yeah, but the air is considerably drier at 0 degrees at 6500 ft in Colorado compared to 40 degrees on the coast in Seattle.

Western NY has a cold damp climate and none of my cars have ever done that when warmed up unless they were burning oil or coolant.

Folks, all I can suggests is that when your ambient temperatures begin to approach zero this winter you take a second look.

Do you really think it was approaching o in Washington State?

I have no idea.
But you can use 20F if you’d like. I’m pretty sure a cloud will form at 20F. I’ll look and post back when temps drop there in the coming weeks.