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89 Mazda626: 1) Smokes only for about<3min on start-up; started after having head work done at shop; 2) also, way before that happened, loses power while driving up an incline. I’m handy with a wrench; overhauled inline-6 p/u that ran great for over 2yr and I sold it; am dumb on diagnostics. Thought it might need rings but seems to me that then it would smoke all the time. Car has 200K+ but I’m unemployed, poor, and can’t afford to buy a car if I can keep this one on the road. HepMeh, pleez! Thank ye.

What color smoke?

Smoke seems bluish white.

Sounds like it may be burning antifreeze. Your head gasket may have breached. How does the engine oil look? Does it have a weird curdled milk consistency?
If it is more like blue smoke, it points to burning oil and that could be due to bad valve seals or something related to the head, among other things.

You may want to bring it back to where you had that job done as that could be indicative of them having to do a bit more work or possibly not having done it correctly.

Thank you. The issue was breached gasket on visit to the shop. No weird-curdled-milk look to cooling water and am not using antifreeze. I’m sure best course would be to return to the shop, although I have been driving it this way for over a year as it seemed to merely be a nuisance and unsightly. I wasn’t driving the car much then, anyway; but now may have a part-time job that requires driving around and am leery… . Thanx, again, fer heppin’meh.

If the smoke is blue then its oil, if it started right after a head job, then the head job got messed up. I am guessing you have bad valve guides… Good news is they are cheap, the bad news is they are a PITA to change out with the head on the car.

The first thing I’d siggest is to do a pressure leakdown test of the cylinders to check for a headgasket breech…especially since you’ve been driving it this way for over a year. That “year” will likely also put you out of the workmanship warranty for the shop that did th eheadgasket, so expect to have to absorb the costs yourself. The leakdown test itself can be done by you with an inexpensive test kit from the parts store.

And, once you get the problem corrected whatever it turns out to be, you need to start using antifreeze again. Anitifreeze not only prevents freezing, but it also raises the boiling point of the coolant, helping prevent boilover, and it lubricates your pump…AND it inhibits corrosion inside the system.