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Air conditioner causes engine to smoke

Hello all,

Over the last two weeks, I’ve noticed a problem with my Maxima’s air conditioner. On two occasions–the only two that I have used it–running the air conditioner has caused bluish smoke to come out of the engine. If I turn it off, the smoke slows and stops. The air conditioner works regardless, and the engine does not overheat when this happens. There does not appear to be a problem at all when the AC is not running.

Now, my problem is framed as such: I live in New Orleans, it is 98 bleeding degrees outside, and it will be until October. On the other hand, my wife has just been laid off–thanks BP–and if she can’t find work by winter we are considering a move to Vermont, where air conditioning will be much less of an imperative.

So my questions are: what is the problem, how much might it cost to fix it, and, since it doesn’t appear to happen when I don’t use the AC, is it a problem I can just avoid by suffering through this summer until we move someplace where, for use, there is an arctic climate?

Thanks for your input.

For “us,” I mean.

Are you sure it is coming from the engine? Could it be condensation dripping on something hot on the engine?

The compressor on my blazer was leaking, and the oil from the freon was getting on the belt - causing smoke to come from the engine compartment. Something similar may be happening with yours, though it may be leaking on the hot engine, etc.

we are considering a move to Vermont, where air conditioning will be much less of an imperative.

Well, yes you can survive in Vermont without an air conditioner. But the Summers here are not Arctic. They are humid and often uncomfortably warm. The high predicted for tomorrow in Burlington is 87. For Thursday 89. That probably doesn’t sound dreadful to a survivor of a gulf coast summer, but it’ll seem damn hot once you acclimatize.

As for the smoke, pull over when you can do so safely pop to hood and look to see where it is coming from. It could be refrigerant escaping from the cooling system. It could be the belt burning up. It could be the A/C condenser unit burning up. It could be something else. None of those is good, but there is a remote chance that the problem is something simple and cheap. It won’t cost anything to drop by an auto A/C place (I assume there is one every six blocks on any major drag in New Orleans) and get a diagnosis and estimate.