I put new oil in my nissan earlier today (5w-30) and as I was driving I started to smell what I thought was burning oil, and I noticed behind me excessive amount of smoke while driving. I went from 3rd to to neutral just to glide and smoke went away. The smoke was kind of thick but it dissipated pretty quickly. I am nervous I might have screwed something up.

Any ideas? I smelled the exhaust, no sweet smell (hooray I guess?) but I noticed the some old oil (or liquid soot maybe?) underneath the exhaust, I checked farther up see there was any oil leaking underneath the engine, and so far I didn't see anything.

If its not burning oil, I guess it could be condensation running down the pipe when I had the front elevated and burned? I doubt it thought cause it was a lot of smoke when I was driving home (mile or so)

Car: 1991 nissan sentra GXE

  • 2
    Could you have accidentally spilled oil on your exhaust manifold? When you drove away and it got hot it smoked and then you pulled over and it may have burned off? I've done that before. Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 6:25
  • Nothing from under the hood, I mean when I drove it looked like I emit a smoke screen like from a spy movie.
    – andyADD
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 6:31
  • If it started to smoke after you drove it's possible it could have been in your engine compartment. As your driving the wind pulls the smoke along the underside of the car. Were you able to locate a source? Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 7:07
  • I thought it was in my engine bay but when I let it run I popped the hood, and checked for smoke. When I let it ran later that night I looked the the exhaust pipe (shortly after seeing the oil on the street) there was residual smoke still in there.
    – andyADD
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 7:32
  • If you let your car sit and take it for a drive does it smoke again? Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 7:35

1 Answer 1


Possibilities include:

  • Oil spilled on exhaust during the Oil Change (as mentioned in the comments by DucatiKiller). This can be new oil from filling, or old oil from the drain and/or filter replacement.

  • Overfilling with replacement oil can result in burn-off. Check the oil level, check multiple reliable sources for the correct fill amount, and check the PCV valve and hose(s).

  • A loose oil cap can spew oil during operation, which will eventually reach the exhaust system.

  • A loose oil filter will drip or spray under pressure, also the drain plug. Check both.

  • You may have removed or disconnected one end of a hose during the service.

  • You may have filled (over-filled) the wrong part of the vehicle with the replacement oil. Check all your fluids for level and cross-contamination.

  • Least likely, your vehicle may have experienced a failure of some kind at about the time of the oil change service. The failure could be internal like piston rings or valve guides, or an oil containment system such as the rear main seal or the valve cover gaskets.

  • 1
    I keep going to your second bullet point. Seems the most likely IMO. Nice answer. Come to the chat room once in awhile and say HI. chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/340/the-pitstop Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 17:48
  • 1
    I have solved the issue, after removing excess oil, I went to drive for 30 minutes, to burn off any residue, and no more smoke, and doesn't smell like burning oil anymore.
    – andyADD
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 18:56
  • Great news, glad you worked it out!
    – kmarsh
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 16:14

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