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Why Is My Car Smoking under the Hood? Reasons and Solution!

  • Car Services
  • Gerard Stevens
  • 6 minutes

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It is never a good sign if you see smoke coming from anywhere in your car! It could be a simple problem, but something is seriously wrong with your car. Smoke coming from under the car’s hood is never a good sign. So if you see smoke coming from the cracks in your car’s hood, it is best to turn off the ignition. But firstly, why is my car smoking under the hood? 

Smoke coming from beneath your car’s hood can be a terrifying experience. This issue can occur for various reasons, from electrical faults to contamination caused by motor oil, engine coolant, or transmission fluids. But you must identify the issue by checking the color of the smoke. So, why is my car smoking under the hood? Our blog has the answers! 

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Why is my car suddenly smoking?



When this happens, determining the reason is just a secondary concern. If you see smoke coming from under your car’s hood, you should first pull over as soon as it is safe to do it. Then you must get out of the traffic and your car as soon as possible. These are a few reasons you see smoke under your car’s hood! 

Motor oil 

A motor oil leak or spill is the most common reason for smoke from under your car’s hood. If you recently changed or topped up your oil and your car is smoking, you could reasonably assume this is the cause. If you haven’t changed or topped up your oil in a while and there’s smoke coming from under the hood, oil could be the reason. There may be a failure with a gasket or seal, allowing oil to leak onto your hot engine. 

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Issues with wiring 

Smoke from under your car’s hood can happen due to overheating your car’s electrical system. You’ll notice a pungent, burning odor when this happens. The smell arises as both the copper wires and wire casing burn. The alternator may burn out, accompanied by smoke and odor. 

Inlet manifold 

Its function is to deliver fuel and air to your engine’s cylinders. The mixture gets thrown off when the inlet becomes clogged. Then your engine may burn your fuel and air mixture inconsistently, resulting in smoke. 

Issues with timing 

Timing is very must for your car’s engine to function properly. If the timing of your car’s ignition system turns off, it may result in burning a rich fuel mixture, which means more fuel gets injected than required. 

Other fluids 

There can be leakage from other fluids that run through your car, like motor oil. Coolant, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and window washing fluid can also leak. Irrespective of the fluid type, a leak is always bad for your car, and causing smoke is very dangerous. 

Why is my car smoking under the hood: Different colors of smoke 

Now we know the various reasons why there’s smoke coming from under your car’s hood. Now you must know the various smoke colors you can observe.  

White smoke  

There may be a few issues if you notice white smoke under your car’s hood. One of the more common ones is coolant in the combustion chamber, which is due to a crack in your car’s engine block or cylinder head or a faulty head gasket. You will get a sweet smell of a coolant when it happens. But if you can smell fuel burning instead of the sweet smell, you have a different problem.  

There is a leak in your fuel system, and gasoline is burning under your car’s hood. The situation is very dangerous, and you must check it immediately. Since gasoline is explosive, the smoke can soon turn into fire, and it may explode soon. 

Black smoke 

Excessive fuel consumption leads to black smoke. But excessive fuel consumption typically results in black smoke coming from your car’s exhaust rather than from under the hood. A carburetor issue can also lead to black smoke if you have an older car. Even a blocked air filter can cause your engine to emit black smoke. Suppose a defective fuel injector or a damaged fuel pressure regulator causes black smoke. Then you must contact a mechanic immediately.  

Blue smoke 

This smoke, which can appear almost as dark as black smoke, indicates burning oil. It may also be dark grey, making it difficult to distinguish between the colors. Ideally, this smoke arises from oil leaking into the combustion chamber. Oil leaks happen due to faulty gaskets, engine block cracks, worn piston rings and valve seals, or an intake exhaust manifold gasket leak. Along with smoke, there will be overheating, damage to spark plugs, and engine misfiring, eventually leading to engine failure.  

What to do if your car is smoking from the hood 

Follow these steps when you see your car is smoking from the hood.  

Steps to follow  

  • Stop your car when it is safe to do so.  
  • Turn the hazard lights on to alert other drivers of a problem and warn them to be cautious around your car.  
  • Put your car in park mode and engage the parking brake. Turn off the engine.  
  • Move away from your car as possible, as an engine fire can quickly become out of control. 
  • Contact the emergency services if required. You shouldn’t try to handle the issue if the engine is actively burning or the smoke is increasing. 
  • If the issue starts to lessen after you pull over, you will likely need to call a tow truck. You may need to call emergency services if the smoke worsens or a fire breaks out. 
  • Never get back in the car. Fires in engines can be unpredictable. You should maintain a distance until you know it’s safe. 

Why is my car smoking under the hood and smelling like it’s burning? 

It is due to small quantities of motor oil or other fluids accidentally leaking or spilling from a defective gasket or seal onto a hot engine or the exhaust system. Other fluids that may be present include power steering fluid, brake and transmission fluid, engine coolant, and even window washer solvent. 

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