Car started smoking and then died

Hello! Me being a 17 year old girl and having no car knowledge at all, I have a few questions.
I was driving my car today when it started smoking white smoke out from under the hood. I pulled over immediately and turned my car off and waited till it stopped. I turned it back on and it was okay. I got to the stop light which was only a few feet away and i was going to pull into the nearest bank. My car died and It wouldn’t start. We got it to my grandmas house, put oil in it and jumped it and it was running just fine. I got half way home and it died again. We tried to jump it and it wouldn’t come back on. Any ideas ?

It sounds like the engine started overheating.

Did any dash lights turn on?


Yes , when i tried to start it again all my dash lights came on


What I mean is, when the problem started, did any lights in the dash turn on?


The nature of the failure is unclear, is there a loss of coolant? Is the cooling system full? If the engine overheated a jump start shouldn’t be needed and wouldn’t help. Failing alternators can create smoke and discharge the battery, if that is the case a jump start would allow you to drive for a limited amount of time. Was the battery light on before this occurred?

My Corolla did that when the radiator fan stopped working during stop and go traffic. Lots of steam came out from the hood b/c a seam in the radiator burst. Be sure to check the level of coolant in the radiator (not just the overflow plastic tank)

Although the issue is probably related to overheating, I’m curious how much oil you needed to add.


Might’ve had a hose that split on you and possibly no coolant. With that being said, with that type of issue, the head gaskets need to be replaced and the engine possibly needs an inspection. A fellow YouTuber’s mom’s 2000 Chrysler Grand Voyager SE back in 2009 had a split in the lower radiator hose that connected to the water pump and cylinder #2 exploded. My car overheated one time (no smoke coming from the engine, thankfully) because I crimped a hose accidentally when I was changing the rear spark plugs on my car. My coolant tank suffered damage at the return inlet when I was attempting to remove the hose before I replaced the power steering pump and formed a crack on the tank. The hoses are still good on my car and I replaced the thermostat as the old one went out on me after 17 years and I replaced the recovery tank with a new one and no more leaks.

Also, I recommend that you check the oil cap for any milky substance (which is like oil and coolant mixed), which can indicate a head gasket failure (once the car is cooled down all the way, of course). My oil cap had a small amount, which turned out to be condensation (short trips = condensation in the oil cap) and hasn’t done that in a while since I cleaned the O-ring on the oil cap and got the dirt off of there as well. My car needs a good coolant bleed purge to get the air out of the system since the fans only kick on with the A/C on and never does when the A/C is off. I’m not a mechanic myself, more of a Service Desk Agent, however, I do watch videos and look up how to replace parts on my own car to save time and money.

Thanks for relaying the amusing anecdotes about your fellow Youtuber’s mom’s minivan and the troublesome botched repair to your own vehicle.

I’m thinking that before mynameisregannn_151499 replaces any head gaskets, the engine definitely needs an inspection, first, and not head gasket and then possible inspection.

Valid points there. Completely forgot that an inspection of a certain part, such as the engine, is required to clarify and to make sure that there isn’t any other damage. Otherwise, a rebuild is required, right?

If I asked the question incorrectly, or provided the wrong info, please correct me if I’m wrong here.


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Albeit an intriguing mystery, You can see that based on your description of what has happened that many questions remain. In my humble opinion I believe that you are not going to get advice online that will get that car purring again. I would find a competent professional auto mechanic to assess the situation, look over the entire vehicle, and offer real focused solutions to specific problems.

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More than likely, that “smoke” was actually steam from an overheated engine.

Did you check the dipstick in order to determine that it was low on oil?
How much oil did you add?
Are you sure that you didn’t overfill the crankcase with oil?

My very strong suspicion is that the engine has been badly damaged by overheating. Depending on the age and the overall condition of your VW, it might be worthwhile to overhaul the engine, or it might not be worthwhile. Only a competent mechanic who can examine the car and diagnose the problem can help you to make that call.

Just be sure to go to a REAL mechanic’s shop, and to avoid chain-run places like Midas, Meineke, Monro, Sears, Pep Boys, and AAMCO.

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That means you are a driveway diy’er. Quite a few of us here. While a pro-mechanic is usually the best source of car repair info, the diy’er viewpoint is a useful one too imo.

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