Puff of smoke


I have a '98 Camry with 116,000 miles on it. First thing in the AM when I start it I get a puff of grayish smoke for a few seconds. The rest of the day it’s OK. I probably need valve guides or something but how soon before I can’t pass the emmission test in California? Any thoughts on this?


That would be blue smoke for valve guides. White would likely indicate nothing more than condensation in the exhaust and black is unburned fuel.


Valve guide seals. What happens is that as the car sits overnight a small amount of oil seeps down past worn seals and sits on the backs of the valves. When you start the engine in the morning it gets drawn into the cylinders and burned.

Eventually it’ll get bad enough to draw oil past the seals while the car is running whenever you decelerate. Vacuum in the cylinders spikes when you decelerate because the pistons are still trying to pull in the same amount of air but the air path is now blocked by the throttle plate.

How long it will take before it fails California emissions is anybody’s guess. The likely failure mode will be the burning oil fouling the platinum palladium/rhodium in the catalytic converter such that it no longer does its catalyst thing.

If you lived in NH, the emissions check is an OBDII download, so as long as it didn’t trip any codes you’d be safe (what a farce!). I don’t know about California.


Thanks for your insight. I guess fixing this problem will be cheaper than buying another second hand car.
Other than this problem, I love my Camry.


Personally I wouldn’t worry about it. It could last this way for several hundred thousand more miles.


Mr. NH
I like your attitude, I just hope it passes my next emissions test that’s all.


If it fails the next emissions test, it would be a good idea to change the oxygen sensor(s). Oil (and antifreeze) will damage oxygen sensors.