Common Exhaust Colors and What They Mean



While it can be alarming, seeing exhaust coming from the tailpipe can be concerning. The color of the exhaust can give you critical insights into the health of your vehicle. Based on the color, you can determine whether everything is okay or if your car needs to be inspected. Staying informed can prevent you from dealing with costly repairs in the future. Below is a short guide on exhaust colors and what they may mean.  

Gray Exhaust Smoke
Gray exhaust can be challenging to pin down because various factors can cause it. The gray smoke may be mixed with the other listed exhaust colors or be solid gray on its own. Solid exhaust smoke can mean that there's transmission fluid burning. It's important to have your vehicle checked to prevent transmission failure.

Blue Exhaust Smoke
Blue exhaust is usually common in the morning when you first start your engine. This type of exhaust indicates that oil is burning. If there's too much oil, it can seep inside the combustion chamber and smoke out the tailpipe. While your engine is cooled off, check your oil level. If the oil is above the full line, it may need to be drained. If the oil isn't overfilled, you may have a broken piston ring or leaky head gasket. To determine the exact cause of the blue color, bring your vehicle in to have it inspected. 

White Exhaust Smoke
If there's a light mist or thin white exhaust on a chilly morning, everything is normal. Thick white exhaust smog is an indication of a problem. Dense white smoke can mean the head gasket is damaged or the engine block is cracked. These are two mechanical issues that need to be addressed right away as they impact the driver's safety. 

Black Exhaust Smoke
If your vehicle is burning too much fuel, the exhaust smoke will turn thick and black. Black smoke is typically more common in diesel engines. Black smoke can mean the air filter is clogged or the fuel injectors are malfunctioning. Constant black smoke can be easily identified by a mechanic if addressed soon enough. 

Vehicle inspection and diagnosis in Severna Park, MD 
If you suspect that your exhaust is an unusual color and want a professional opinion, bring your vehicle to one of the six Bay Area Tire Service Centers. Our family-owned automotive shops have been serving communities in Severna Park, Cambridge, Pasadena, and Westminster. We perform maintenance and repairs on all vehicle make and models. 

Click here to schedule an appointment.