Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Smoke coming from under my hood.

asked by on

I drove home from work today which takes me about 10 mins. I parked my car for about 15 mins then left again. After driving for about 20 mins I parked my car and noticed smoke coming from under the hood. I turned the car off for about 5 mins then started it again and drove to the grocery store. The trip took about 20 mins. Drove home which was about a 15 min drive. Backed in my drive way and noticed the smoking again. I checked my oil, transmission, and coolant levels. All good. Help please.

My car has 186000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

A: Hello there, thanks for writing in. I would...

Hello there, thanks for writing in. I would be glad to help you out here. Most likely you have a leak.

When the vehicle engine is stone cold, look around the valve cover gasket for liquid oil and then work your way around and down the engine to see if you can see any signs of "fresh" oil.

Another possibility of this issue could be due to a pinhole leak in a coolant hose that perhaps sprays on a hot manifold.

It is not likely transmission fluid is a cause here, but on a vehicle that age (20 years), you may still have the usual leaks from gaskets, so do monitor the level of transmission fluid.

Due to the different types of odor between leaking (and burning if hitting the manifold) oil and leaking antifreeze, it is likely a mechanic could pin it down for you. Finding coolant leaks in particular is sometimes easy, we just need just to pressurize the cooling system when it is cold and safe to work on.

If it is an oil leak, in extreme cases, oil leaking on a hot manifold can cause an engine compartment fire so if you suspect oil, you do want to have this investigated and resolved. Also, breathing in vaporous oil fumes as you are in or around the car is not particularly healthy. As a car engine ages, the gaskets and seals can often, be the weak point or the area of failure.

Engines have become so reliable, mechanically speaking, but gasket technology has just not kept up. This appears to be the situation you face. Your engine configuration is a fairly simple one , so I'd recommend getting one of our certified automotive technicians to come to your home or office to inspect, diagnose, and repair this issue for you. Hope this helps and good luck!

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: Trying to find problem with car

Hi there. There could be several things going on here. First we need to know if there are any codes stored in the engine computer. This will give us the direction that the diagnosis needs to go. Was the battery...

Q: Overheating problem with my car.

Coolant system leaks completely disable the the engine cooling system from properly cooling the engine. This can cause serious engine damage if not addressed. The problem with some of these leaks, they are not detectable unless the cooling system is...

Q: i have o 05 scion when i lock the doors on my car a security light starts blinking should i be worried i just got the car today

This is a safety feature that tells you and any unwanted intruders that the car is armed with an alarm. This will not drain your battery as it is merely a warning light.

Related articles

What Causes Hoses to Leak?
While the largest part of your engine is mechanical, hydraulics plays a significant role. You’ll find fluids at work in a number of different areas. Your car's fluids include: Engine oil Transmission...
How to Renew Your Car Registration in Oklahoma(DELETED)
Having your car registered with the Oklahoma Tax Commission is an important part of driving legally in this state. You will need to do this within 30 days of moving to Oklahoma...
P2103 OBD-II Trouble Code: Throttle Actuator Control Motor Circuit High
P2103 means there is a fault with the throttle actuator control motor circuit, likely due to a defective electrical component or part.