Car all of a sudden started smoking white smoke, shutting off and making a knocking noise?

My mom was driving to pick me up and she said that all of a sudden about half way here that the car started making a knocking sound and white smoke started coming from hood, the car was also trying to shut itself down while she was trying to pull over. It is a 2000 ford taurus with like 130k. I am so scared that it is the head gasket because my mom, myself and my daughter, and my 16 year old sister all share that car to get around. Is there anything else it could be besides that or is that probably what it is? My mom got it towed to a mechanic and were waiting for answers I’m just so scared because I don’t have the money to fix it if it is a HG. Any advice would be appreciated, thanks :slight_smile:

Well, it could be that the radiator or cooling hose sprung a leak, esp if the white smoke was coming out of the engine compartment. When that happens, the coolant could overheat and cause the car to shut down. If the white smoke was coming out of the tailpipe, that would be more a symptom of a serious internal engine problem, such as the head gasket. Where exactly is the white smoke originating?

You better hope it IS a head gasket. Otherwise it probably is a broken piston.

white smoke
engine wanted to shut down

I believe the engine may be a goner

I don’t know what happened… The car was doing fine. And the smoke was coming from the engine… And there was water leaking…


“there was water leaking . . .”

Please clarify

From under the car… I think it was water it looked like it… I don’t know much about cars :frowning:

Please let us know what the diagnosis is

What might have happened is a radiator or hose broke and spewed water and white smoke. Once there was no coolant, the engine overheated and started knocking and shut down. If that was the sequence, then the engine is probably shot. If it started knocking and shutting down first or at the same time, still doesn’t sound good.

Thanks y’all for your help… I’m praying its not the head gasket cause I don’t know what I would do… We had also heard a slight knocking sound (could barely hear it) like the day before it happened but it was barely anything so we just shrugged it off and then my mom said that when all this started it started by knocking when she accelerated, and then it just got worse but she was stuck in traffic but pulled over as fast as she could.

Do you check the oil level regularly?

You need to get it towed in–don’t drive it–to a mechanic to assess the problem.

We just had a repair done like a month ago and the oil was checked I think… And my mom did get it towed… She said that when it started doing that she was in traffic but it took her a few minutes to get it pulled over. We will hear from the mechanic today…

I think you need another car, this one needs a new engine and I doubt if it is worth it. Your engine was done for when you heard the slight knocking the day before. Someone in your family should learn how to check your oil regularly, every couple of weeks on an older car, daily on long trips, and immediately after having the oil changed.

The mechanic said that it is the intake manifold gasket and that it also needs a new radiator and battery. Hoping its not a lot of money… I’m not really sure how much that would cost. But just thankful that its not the head gasket!


Important question

What does the mechanic have to say about the engine knocking?

Those repairs you mentioned are not a big deal, relatively speaking

However, I’d hate for you to get into an ugly situation where you buy those repairs, and in the end, the engine was already damaged

My gut feeling is that the current path, and considering the history, of this car is going to lead to a bad ending

The term “few minutes” is also used incorrectly on a pretty frequent basis.

Agree on the knocking issue. No point putting $1500 for the intake and radiator only to have the engine shot anyway. Take a deep breath and trade it in. It will save money in the long run. This is the beginning of a money pit. A thousand here and a thousand there and you could have had a new car for a couple hundred a month. Sorry but this is why people without money continue to be without money. And a Social Work degree is nearly at the bottom of the list for potential jobs-even though it may be interesting and feels good, there are no jobs. Communications, psychology, and so on in the same boat. Without a masters or higher, and speaking several languages like Spanish, can’t do much with them.

He is going to charge us 267 for it… And I don’t know if that meant getting a new radiator or not

To keep the price down somewhat, ask the mechanic to use aftermarket parts like Auto Zone and others…not Ford OE.