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As winter approaches, I have been noticing that on some occasions in which it is relatively cold outside (20-30 degrees) ,and also early morning or night time when the temperature is low, that my car sometimes emits white smoke from the hood/engine when I am at a red light and have been at the red light for 10+ seconds or so.

I also notice a considerable amount of white smoke being emitted from the exhaust while the white smoke is coming from the hood too. While I tend to be a bit paranoid, it does seem to be more white smoke than normal for most cars.

Also, I recently have had the water pump replaced (107,000) miles, and ever since the water pump has been replaced it seems like my engine/hood emits a burning type of smell whenever I park my car and walk out of the vehicle after having driven it for a decent amount.

It's tough to pinpoint but just seems like a burning oil or a burning rubber smell. I haven't lost any coolant since the water pump replacement, and they also had to change the oil apparently because some coolant was apparently getting into my oil. My oil is not milky, and looks good although I seem to have lost a little bit of oil since this repair (2-3 weeks since repair and oil has gone from around the half mark to a little bit past the minimum mark).

I am not sure what to think of this, and whether I should be concerned. It is a 2003 Ford Taurus SE, Vulcan Engine with 107,000 miles. Curious to see what you guys think.

Note: This only seems to happen when I have the heat blasting in my car too

  • White smoke out the exhaust is indicative of a blown head gasket. It doesn't take much coolant to make the exhaust white ... Secondarily, water in the oil is also indicative of a blown head gasket. I'm surprised the shop you took it to didn't suggest this ... – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Dec 7 '15 at 0:28
  • Are you sure it is smoke, and not water vapor or coolant? – kmarsh Jan 6 '16 at 22:31
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Head gasket is the only likely culprit here.

It is possible that the shop did something they shouldn't have when replacing the water pump that could have damaged the head. I've seen head bolts loosened inadvertently due to negligence. This is not an indictment of your mechanic, it could be pure coincidence or some odd issue with the water pump adding more pressure than the old one since it's brand new.

Also, are you sure the smoke is white and not slightly blue? It can be hard to tell. That would explain the loss of oil and the burning smell. Either way, definitely looking at a head gasket.

  • A "compression leakdown test" would be the way to look at the head gasket. If you already have an air compressor that can get to 100PSI (even a little 1.5 gallon pancake compressor for brad nailers will do), the test tool costs less than $75. – kmarsh Jan 4 '16 at 19:49
  • Also head bolts are not involved in Taurus Vulcan 3.0 water pump replacements. That engine did suffer a curious problem with loose head bolts; mine had that problem, so did a relative's Taurus. Not sure if it was a factory assembly issue or self-loosening bolts. – kmarsh Jan 6 '16 at 22:31

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