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Overfilled Oil/Exhaust Smoke

We purchased a car close to a year ago that at some point had the oil overfilled. We’ve had the engine cleaned out by the dealership and the car runs much better now but we still see smoke when the car is turned on and occassionally when it idles for more than a few minutes. Is this something that will just be an ongoing cycle or is there something else we should be having checked?

it’ll clear up sooner or later. nothing to worry about.

It’d be really nice to know the make, model, engine, year, mileage, and a bit about the car’s history before making any guesses. My answer would be totally different for a 1941 Hupmobile Skylark than it would be for a 2013 Buick.

Give us something to work with.

I apologize about forgetting the details - The car is a 2002 Toyota Solara, automatic, 120k miles. I don’t know much at all about the history other than it had a single owner prior to our purchase, no accidents and had all the regular maintenance. We had it for about 6mo before the engine cleaning was done (we brought it in after it had stalled a few times from (they said) carbon build up) and it’s been running fine since. The dealership (they sold us the car) says not to worry, that they didn’t spot any other problems BUT that it may need to be cleaned again in the future, he said sometimes it takes 2-3 cleanings before it’s done.

It’s entirely possible that the smoke on startup is just oil getting past worm valve stem guides. The car being 10+ years old, it would not be abnormal.

I wouldn’t use the dealership[ for a 10 year old car, but I’d bring it to a reputable independant shop and ask him to take a look-see, perhaps do a compression check. While a bit of oil burning isn’t catastrophoc, it can contaminate the cat converter, and the converter in those cars is expensive to replace. it’s integrated into the exhaust manifold…

@Coathalia what color is the smoke?

Make sure your coolant level is correct.

If it’s assumed, right or wrong, that the smoke is blue then a possibility could be oil pooling in the valve train area due to engine sludging.

Single owner and regular maintenance may not mean a whole lot. I’m not trying to cause you any alarm here; only pointing out a possibility.


Sorry to be a cynic, but: The stalling was not likely from carbon buildup unless it was in the “Idle Air Control” or they cleaned the throttle body. Hopefully it’s fixed, but I’m skeptical of the dealership’s analysis. They say “2-3 more cleanings may be necessary” I think they know how to feed a cash cow. I seriously doubt this is necessary.

If you see smoke when you first start it and after idling a while, I would second that it may be the valve guides leaking a bit. Relatively modern cars aren’t as susceptible to this as older ones, so I suspect the car may not have had its oil changed as often as it should. If it runs okay I would just keep an eye on the oil level and ignore the problem, unless you are leaving clouds of smoke everywhere you go. It may be worth doing the next couple of oil changes at 2,000 miles or so to clean out the engine if you suspect it was neglected.

I would consider having an independent mechanic check it out and make them your regular stop for maintenance and repairs. There is no reason to take an car this old to a dealer unless you have a warranty with them. A dealer almost always will charge more for repairs and I question their integrity based on the diagnosis they gave you.

Thanks for the suggestions, everyone. We’re bringing it to an independant mechanic today and I so appreciate the input!

Hopefully the transmission has adequate/appropriate fluid. Overfilling the crankcase is often the result of draining the transmission by mistake.