Wisps of Smoke: 2000 Nissan Maxima

A few days ago my 2000 Nissan Maxima (with about 125000 miles) started to emit a little smoke from under the hood. It’s otherwise running fine: No lights are on, there’s no leaking, I keep up with regular maintenance, and it’s making no funny sounds. I have since driven it just a few miles on back roads after i noticed the problem and I obviously won’t drive it again until I know it’s ok. I would appreciate some advice–thank you!

I assume that when you say “there’s no leaking” that you’re saying the car doesn’t leave any puddles on the ground. Because there is leaking, and whatever is leaking is hitting something hot (such as the exhaust manifold). So you need to find out what it leaking and where.

Thanks and yes–that’s what I meant. There’s no puddles on the ground.

Pop the hood and inspect the exhaust manifold and everything that is above it. Very often a weeping valve cover gasket will do this. Not enough leaks to actually make it to the ground, especially because it gets vaporized by the manifold. Coolant leaks also do this. Check all of your fluids before driving again.

Thank you!

A sweet smell is an antifreeze leak and an acrid smell is oil leak.

Was there any service done just prior to this happening? If so probably some fluid or another got spilled onto the exhaust manifold. If so, eventually that will go away by itself. (Good idea to check all the fluid levels as mentioned above.) If the smoke has an acrid smell, like burning plastic, it could be a wiring problem. Might be worthwhile to carry a fire extinguisher until this is resolved.