Smoking tailpipe immediately after oil change


#1

00 VW Jetta with the supposedly ‘indestructible’ 2.0 gas engine (ha), which I do a very good job of maintaining (35 MPG!). Anyway it’s given me 125k miles so far with an average amount of trouble. Yesterday I got an oil change at my trusted mechanic. He showed me where a slow coolant leak was when the car was up on the lift (flange b/w engine and the tstat housing - this is a common part to go).



Then when they drove it out of the garage to everyone’s surprise it started blowing white smoke from the tailpipe. The car went in the shop 100%, but this was crazy. I trust these guys plenty - how would a good mechanic mess up an oil change like that?



The head mechanic suggested that perhaps the older, dirty oil had plugged the gaps around the piston rings or head gasket. He said when they put in clean oil, fluids might have started to move to places they shouldn’t be. This seems plausible. But there was no oil in the coolant or water in the oil.



He said I could get some additive to stop the smoke for now, but I should really get rid of the Jetta and get something else.



So then I drive about 1 mile to the auto parts store, smoking all the way (being THAT GUY with the messed up car), and got the additive. When I got in the car and started it up again - NO smoke, nothing – It was running 100%. I drove home with no problems, and today drove to work - NO SMOKE at all. And no, I never put the additive in.



I need my car as a reliable daily commuter (60 miles a day). So the main questions are:

1. Was the smoke a freak occurrence? I tend to think no with how much was pouring out of the tailpipe.



2. If it’s something major like piston rings or head gasket, should I rebuild the engine or sell and get another car. I’d probably only have $5k to spend on the next car…


#2

The head mechanic suggested that perhaps the older, dirty oil had plugged the gaps around the piston rings or head gasket. He said when they put in clean oil, fluids might have started to move to places they shouldn’t be. This seems plausible. But there was no oil in the coolant or water in the oil.

Not likely. Only way this would happen is if you hadn’t changed the oil for 20k miles. If it’s maintained like you say it was then there is no way this could be the cause.

Second…you say it’s WHITE smoke…that’s water NOT oil. Somehow water is getting into the combustion chamber. I don’t know how this is related to an oil change though.


#3

What color was the smoke?

$5000 pays for lots of repairs and not likely as many as you will incurr over 75k miles till 200k where most modern cars last if taken reasonable care of.


#4

I agree with Mike. The mechanic’s story about clean oil causing this is BOGUS, and the white “smoke” is steam, not oil smoke.

Additives are worthless, so get your money back and don’t pour whatever it is in the engine. I’d monitor the oil and coolant levels closely and see if either is going down as you drive.

As far as fixing or replacing the car, that’s a decision only you can make. If you know the cooling system is leaking I suggest you repair that ASAP, because if you overheat the engine will likely have much bigger, and more expensive, problems.


#5

Only way this would happen is if you hadn’t changed the oil for 20k miles. If it’s maintained like you say it was then there is no way this could be the cause.

Second…you say it’s WHITE smoke…that’s water NOT oil. Somehow water is getting into the combustion chamber. I don’t know how this is related to an oil change though.

Exactly - The car was at 5200 miles since the last oil change. During that time, since the car goes through 1-2 extra qts of oil every 5k miles, I checked twice a month and add more oil when necessary. The car drives fine and there’s no loss of power.

Any ideas what could cause a 1-time smokey/steamy (white) tail pipe?

I agree about the additive too. But as I was pulling away, I was a bit upset, so it was mostly an emotional purchase. I really don’t plan to use it.


#6

$5000 pays for lots of repairs and not likely as many as you will incurr over 75k miles till 200k where most modern cars last if taken reasonable care of.

That’s what I’m thinking. In addition to this possible problem, one of the control arm bushings is going, and there’s an issue with the driver’s side window that I’m betting will pop up at some point soon.

Probably best to cut my losses now before the problems really start to accelerate.


#7

There is one other possibility. White smoke can come from water of from transmission fluid. If the 2000 is an automatic and has a vacuum modulator controlling shifts, a leak would allow fluid to be drawn into the engine’s intake. A tiny amount makes a huge white cloud, and a leak of this nature could be intermittant. Check your tranny fluid level.


#8

When they changed the oil they set the fill machine at the correct setting. Filled it with oil and within a minute started the motor…WITHOUT GIVING THE OIL ENOUGH TIME TO COMPLETELY DRAIN DOWN INTO THE CRANKCASE. You drive to the store and it is burning it less and less, you go into the store, come out and presto, no smoke. I have seen this a few times. After they fill the valve cover with oil, it is a good idea to wait a few minutes to let the oil return to the crankcase.