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Smoke from under the hood

I have a 1999 Ford Taurus and a month ago I replaced the V-belt (which I think is the serpentine) and had the transmission fluid changed. This past Monday (March 7, 2011) I drove an hour to work on the highway going 70mph for about 35 minutes then successively lower speeds as the weather was getting worse closer to town. When I parked the car, I noticed smoke coming from the grill at the front of the car. It did have a sort of burning rubber smell. The temp gage on the dashboard registered normal. So, what kind of repair am I in for?

There’s on way on Earth of knowing from my perspective. Based on the complaint it could be a burning belt due to improper tension which could be caused by a failing belt tensioner or idler.
It could also be a radiator cooling fan on its way out and the fan motor is frying.

About all I can suggest is raise the hood (engine cold) and note if the belt looks burnt or glazed. Try to rotate the fan blade on the motor with a fingertip. It should rotate easily. If it does not the motor is dragging.

Seeing as how it’s a '99 year model car any of the above is very possible if they’ve never been replaced before.

Can you raise the hood and immediately search next time?

Thanks for the quick reply. I’ll check it in the morning and see if I see anything.

I can. I’m just a bit worried about taking it on the highway again. I’ve only been driving it in town at 25mph since then and for not very long. I haven’t noticed any smoke or smell since.

Are you sure that it is smoke?
Is it possible that you are seeing steam?
Have you checked the level of coolant in your radiator?
If not, I suggest that you do so–when the engine is cold.

This might have been road water and crud that had splashed up onto hot areas of the car around the radiator. The good news is the temp gauge was normal.

Pop the hood and observe the motor running, and listen for any unusual noise. If you aren’t sure what you are looking for take it to a trusted shop and ask them for a check of the motor. You could have a small coolant leak from a bad hose, or loose hose clamp, the new belt might be too tight, or it might be nothing at all.

I checked the fans this morning the they turn nice and easy. I didn’t notice anything unusual about the belt.

I looked under the hood while it was running. I couldn’t smell anything funny or see any smoke. Then again, it’s 23 degrees out here so nothing was even close to being warm.

I am not completely sure it was smoke, but it was white and had a rubber burning smell.

It seemed to be a bit too much smoke coming from the engine to be just from road crud. Though it was snowy for about 25 minutes of my trip. I’ll make the call to the garage today.

I’ve seen this happen when a rocker arm gasket is bad and the oil drips onto the exhaust manifold. The evaporating oil smells like burning rubber and the smoke is white.