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White smoke comin from hood passenger side, very strong funny smell, and trouble starting back up!

Hi. Im a 25yr old female with absolutely no knowledge of cars what so ever, sad but true! Now let me start by saying ive had this car for about 3yrs & have never had any major problems. Earlier today, about my second time starting my car for that day, my car started smoking a lil bit. I proceeded to drive, still smoking just a lil bit. About another block up, white smoke (A lot) began coming from more towards the passenger side of the car from under the hood. So I stop at a gas station, with just my 3yr old son in the car with me. i was scared to pop the hood or anything. I called he mentioned a couple things, something about coolant or my battery, but still he come.check it, if he gets around to it…lol…so anyways, after about 10min, the smoke clears , I turn on the car, this time it’s acting as if it doesn’t want to start, like my battery was dying or something, but after the 3rd try it started & I proceeded again. now my car is making a " tatatatatata" noise every time i push harder gas …i didn’t.want to leave & i.was only about a mile from my house, so i.decided 2 go, had no money for a all, so.I had to get it home…it smoked bad the whole mile, and was making the same sound! Just as I was about to turn in to my parking spot, it went off, but I turned it.back on, then parked. I know it was.a lot but I needed to get all.details across, lol…PLEASE ANY ADVICE !!! HELP!!

It sounds like a coolant leak, and possibly other damage since you continued to drive the car. What did the engine temp gauge read? If it went into the red, there is likely damage to the engine from overheating. If not, you may have lucked out.

Assuming it is a leak, you need to find the source of the leak and fix it, then add new coolant. don’t drive the car until someone looks at it, or you could end up with a multi-thousand dollar bill for a new engine.

It would be really helpful to know the type of vehicle that we are talking about, because my answer might be somewhat different if the vehicle in question was…let’s say…a '52 Plymouth with a cast iron engine, versus a late-model car with an aluminum engine block and/or aluminum cylinder head. But, without knowing the details of your mystery vehicle, here is my best guess:

Rather than smoke, I believe that you were seeing a lot of steam, caused by a coolant leak. Yes, smoke would be bad, but having a coolant leak and continuing to drive your car can also be very bad…for your wallet. The odd smell that you noticed was probably from super-heated coolant that had turned to steam.

If you had shut the engine down immediately, the outcome might have been merely having to replace a radiator hose or a heater hose, plus putting new coolant into the engine. Continuing to drive the car may well have caused the engine to run so hot that it resulted in a blown head gasket, and/or a warped cylinder head, and/or scored cylinder walls, and/or damaged main bearings, all of which adds up to a lot of money for repairs.

Yes, this bad news is water under the bridge at this point, but unless you learn at least a bit about how a car works, you are likely to make other expensive mistakes with this car or your next one. That is why I strongly suggest that you sign up for a basic auto maintenance course at your local vocational school.

Most of these schools have a night-time class consisting of just a few sessions, designed to teach how to check fluids, how to maintain your car, how each of the car’s systems work, how to interpret new leaks, odors, and noises, and how to keep your car running properly. These courses are designed for folks who know little or nothing about cars, and the cost is usually very low. In other words, a course like this is a good source of knowledge that will save you money in the long run.

To return to the OP’s original thesis–that she was seeing smoke, rather than steam–I have to question the wisdom of continuing to drive a smoking car with your young child in the car. While you were almost surely seeing steam, instead of smoke, I think that you exercised very poor judgment to continue to transport your child in a car that could have been on fire.

Anyway…at this point, all I can suggest is that you NOT start the engine again until a competent mechanic determines just how much damage has been done. If the worst case scenario is reality, it may be cheaper to get a replacement (used) engine from an auto recycling center (junk yard), and have your mechanic install it. If you go to a well-reputed independent mechanic (rather than to a chain operation like Midas, Meineke, Monro, Sears, Pep Boys, AAMCO, etc.), he will likely be much more willing to install a used engine, rather than trying to repair severely damaged goods.

I’m sorry for having to give you potentially bad news, but if you log back with additional information, it is just possible that we can give you less ominous news. Nobody here likes to give bad news, if we can avoid it.

Best of luck with this situation.

I agree with the others that you probably have a coolant leak. At this point, you really have no choice but to tow the car in to find the leak and to assess the other damage that you likely did by continuing to drive the car. For future reference, driving a car with low oil and driving a car with an overheated engine are probably the two worst things you can do to an engine.

Another possibility is something driven by the serpentine belt, such as the alternator, air conditioning compressor, etc. is seizing up and the smoke you saw was due to the belt burning on the seized pulley. This could account for the slow cranking when you tried to start it too. But there’s not enough information here to make a good guess.

Was the car dripping anything? What did the smoke smell like? Were any warning lights on on your dash? Was your temperature gauge in the normal range? I would have it towed to a mechanic for further analysis.

Lots of good advice here, but where’s the OP?

Well, since the OP has not returned after 1 week, I think we have to assume that this was just one more “drive-by” post by someone who will not return to either update us or to thank us for our efforts.

Assuming that she did take the time to read our responses, I hope that she came away with some advice that she will take to heart, especially my thoughts about someone transporting a young child in a car that she thinks is producing smoke from the engine compartment. Even though she was most likely seeing steam from her dying car, just the possibility that the car could have been on fire while she drove her child in it is…frightening.

1 Like

Well said.


There are some basic things in life like adding and subtracting and smoke versus steam and black smoke, blue smoke, white smoke. Then burning smell of wood, plastic, electrical, rubber, oil. Pretty basic stuff that helps one make decisions in a tense situation.

@Val_has_crappy_Cruiser And how do you know that the person who asked this question 7 years ago even had a Chrysler product . And no matter how many capital letters you use I doubt if Chrysler can hear you yelling.