Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Misfiring Engine

asked by on

I recently bought a 2002 Altima from a used car dealer. Drove it for about a week, and the check engine light came on. Had a mechanic look at it. His computer said that engine misfires were detected. Had a co-worker look at it, and told me that I had a blown head gasket...but the mechanic didn't tell me that. Shortly after, I begun noticing slight problems starting the car. Then the car wouldn't start at all! After taking out the spark plugs and cleaning them, the car started. After driving it, I noticed white smoke coming from the bottom right side of the car. I'm told that I may as well get a new engine over getting just the gasket replaced, because replacing the gasket will apparently cost more. What should I do?

My car has 147000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

A: Hi and thanks for your question. When you s...

Hi and thanks for your question. When you see white smoke coming from the engine or at the tail pipe, this is water and ethylene glycol mixture burning off. The smoke should smell sweet. If the smoke smells sweet, then you probably have a blown head gasket. But to verify this, you would need to get a block tester. Put the blue fluid into the block tester and place it over the radiator cap neck with the cap off and the engine running. As steam comes out of the radiator, squeeze the plunger and suck in only the steam. If the blue fluid turns orange or yellow in color, then you have exhaust gasses entering the cooling system. This would be a sign of a burned head gasket. If the fluid does not change color, then there is no burned head gasket.

You could have a warped head causing the coolant to leak out of the head and onto the hot exhaust. Or you could have a coolant leak coming out of the engine’s casting plugs and leaking onto the hot exhaust to get the white smoke under the engine. Your vehicle could have an exhaust leak to make the smoke leak out to if there is a blown head gasket. In order to get this fixed, I would recommend having a certified professional, like one from YourMechanic, check out the white smoke issue to avoid any unnecessary repairs.

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

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: AC works well briefly, then blows warm

Hello there. A few different things can cause the AC to shut off after a short while. The first being an overfilled AC refrigerant. When this occurs, the pressure in the system rises too high and causes the AC to...

Q: Blue smoke after starting the car

Blue smoke usually indicates oil getting into the combustion process - not a good thing. If you had your oil changed the day before, check the oil level to make sure it wasn't over-filled. If you car is accumulating some...

Q: intake control solenoid voltage

If the issue persists then it may be possible that the issue is with wiring or computer. Damaged wiring or a faulty computer may compromise power to the solenoid and affect its performance. Many automotive electronic circuits use 12 volts...

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...
Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers
Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...