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My smoking ride

Ok, I feel like I should say up front that my entire car knowhow consists of how to change a tire, use jumper cables and check my fluid levels - none of this helps me with my current problem.

Yesterday when I was driving home from the grocery store the car started to smoke. I pulled over, popped the hood and let the thing air out - it stopped smoking instantly when the engine was turned off. Yesterday was the first day this fall that I needed to use the heater for any length of time, so I thought it might be the problem. Once I had aired the car out a bit I drove home with the heat and fan off and there was no more smoke. I drove again this morning without the heat on and there was no smoke.

My question is in two parts…
1 Am I right to assume that the problem is probably my heater or its fan?
2 If that is the problem what sort of parts need to be replaced, so I know if the person at the garage I will end up taking it to is honest with me about what needs to be replaced

Thanks so much for your help!


Steph, The Smoke Was From Under The Hood And Not From The Tailpipe At The Back End Of The Car, Correct ?

Do you think something was burning (acrid odor) ?
Could it have been steam you were seeing ?

Driving the car is probably a bad idea, at least until you know what’s going on. Serious engine damage could be the result.

When the car is cold, the coolant level, and all fluid levels, should be checked.
What is the car’s model-year ?


Did you notice that the thermometer needle moved beyond normal when you noticed the smoke?
What did it smell like?

All too often, people report that their engine is emitting “smoke”, when in fact, it is actually steam from the cooling system.

Before we all go off on tangents…Is the OP absolutely sure that he/she saw smoke, or is it possible that this was steam?

Coolant has a distinct smell - steam would not.

It could be the blower motor.

I would check all the fluid levels and inspect under the hood and under the car for leaks. What color was the ‘smoke’? How much smoke was there? If you can’t find any leaks and all fluids are full, I’d drive it some more, and if it smokes again, try to pay attention to where the smoke is coming from. It only takes a little bit of oil on something hot to make a lot of smoke.