By October 22, 2007 0 Comments Read More →

White Smoke Under Hood

Hi Austin,

Thanks for being a great help for so many of us here. I also have a question which I hope would be addressed by you.
I am living in Edison, NJ. Last Tuesday it rained pretty heavily here and I had to drive my car in that rain. The next morning I drove my car to work but I could smell a burning odor. I could see even white fumes coming out from under the hood. At the same time the Battery Indicator light came on in the instrument cluster. I pulled over my car in a parking lot and cut the ignition to check the engine.

Engine oil was good, transmission oil was also upto the level. When I restarted the car, the fumes were gone and the battery indicator also went off. This has happened quite a few times after that incident. I have a feeling that the alternator is not working properly and needs repairs.

And yeah the smoke was coming from the right side of the hood if you consider from a position sitting inside of the car in the driver’s seat. I have not taken the car to mechanics yet, just waiting for an opinion from you.



Howdy there Abhinav, thanks for your email.

You did not mention anything about a dead battery or having to jump start the engine. The red battery light coming on the dash COULD be caused by a problem with the alternator, or you could have a bad cell inside the battery.

If you are not experiencing a dead battery complaint (due to a bad battery or an alternator that is not charging altogether) , you probably have an internal alternator problem with something called a diode. The diode can fail and cause the red light to come on the dash although the alternator is still producing the electricity to keep the battery recharged. You can have your alternator rebuilt by a starter and alternator shop in your area and save yourself some money.

The smoke, hummmm, if it is white in color it is probably due to coolant/antifreeze leaking on the hot engine and you are seeing steam coming from under the hood. Or you could have a small engine oil leak that is leaking on the engine and producing the white smoke. I would double check the under hood fluids and the coolant level first. The smoke and the red dash warning light could be related or it could be coincidental.

You will probably need to have a mechanic check your alternator and “load test” the battery to find the problem with the red dash light, and if you are low on coolant and can not find the leak yourself you will need to get a cooling system pressure test done by the mechanic as well.

This is a cheap and quick test to locate coolant leaks. Both the smoke and the red light would be a concern for me, so do not delay your mechanic visit.

Keep me posted as to what you find out will ya?


Austin Davis

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Austin Davis, consumer car repair advocate. "Hi there! I love to help people solve their car repair problems and I hope my site was helpful to you today. Thank you for stopping by."