Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Burning smell, small amount of white smoke, and loss of power.

asked by on

There is a burning smell from engine compartment like that of plastic or rubber (hard to decipher) and one time there was a small amount of white smoke coming from the hood (after a steep uphill drive about 10 minutes, very steep). The car doesn't lose power but has essentially no pickup when you step on the gas. The engine takes a good while to initiate any sort of power once the car reaches second gear (it is an automatic). Thank you

My car has 185000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

A: Thanks for writing in about your 2001 Jeep ...

Thanks for writing in about your 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The first thing that needs to be checked is the white smoke. Overheating an engine can damage it. One of two things occurred. The cooling system was unable to handle the heat generated by the load from the steep grade and boiled over, or there is a coolant leak.

In either case, it sounds like the engine became too hot. The lack of low-end power is a concern. If the hesitation started after it overheated, the problem could be mechanical. Piston rings can lose their tension when overheated resulting in a poor seal.

Here's what you need to do. Scan for codes to see if the computer is seeing a problem. Check the cooling system thoroughly. The mechanical operation of the engine should also be checked. Perform a compression check, check for vacuum leaks, cylinder leak-down test, and check for a restricted exhaust. If you need help running tests for this, a certified pro from YourMechanic can come to your car's location to diagnose the burning smell as well as any other issues that your car is experiencing.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Save up to 30%

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Noise from rear when car gets straight after turning left or right

I am assuming the mechanic drove it and already identified the sound as from the rear of the car but that would have to be confirmed preferably by getting a second opinion because obviously you still have the original problem....

Q: Serpentine belt not spinning

It is likely that one of your ribbed or slotted pulleys has seized up causing your belt to be unable to spin. It is also possible that there may be a problem with the crankshaft drive pulley. It is possible...

Q: Took it to a mechanic, nothing found through scanner

I would recommend going to the mechanic you trust and have them do an inspection to make sure the fuel filter and lines are not leaking. Sometimes an aftermarket fuel filter can leak at the connections and may need to...

Related articles

P0240 OBD-II Trouble Code: Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance
P0240 code definition Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance What the P0240 code means P0240 is an OBD-II generic code triggered when the Engine Control Module (ECM) detects the intake boost...
How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...
P2428 OBD-II Trouble Code: Exhaust Gas Temperature Too High Bank 1
P2428 code definition A P2428 trouble code signifies that the PCM has detected a problem in the exhaust gas temperature sensor circuit in bank 1, which subsequently contains the number one...