My car has a problem

  • the engine whistles (Hard to better describe it)
  • white smoke comes out of the engine beneath the fuel filter
  • Two different mechanics could not understand what's happening

I have a 2005 European Volvo V50 2.0D Diesel (160.000Km). Last evening I saw white smoke coming out from the engine and heard a strange sound coming from it. When the car was turned off I smelled burnt plastic. Later when I turned the engine on again I saw white smoke again leaving the engine and a strange new sound when I hit the gas pedal

Here I have some videos of the engine and car starting


  • Well, clearly, the problem is that there's a barking dog trapped in your engine, lol.
    – Jason C
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 14:59
  • @JasonC didn't get the joke, barking dog? why?
    – gota
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 15:02
  • 2
    (There's a dog barking in the background of your start up video.) Anyways does volvoforums.org.uk/showthread.php?t=220305 give any hints? Describes a somewhat similar problem, working theory is a leak in one of the turbo hoses or other turbo issues.
    – Jason C
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 15:04
  • 1
    If you are brave to drive it and see if you have lost any power. Or rev it a bit to about 3000 - 3500rpm... Does it turn the crank harder or the engine runs fine? Whistling sound can come from turbo if the pipe is off, yea. If it smokes from exhaust at higher revs (when the turbo actually blows) then it will be the air leak... Keep searching, I'm sure you're close. Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 17:47
  • I once left a screwdriver sitting on top of one of the exhaust manifolds on a 300ZX Twin Turbo. 200 miles later, smoke started coming out from under the hood. Took me a week to figure out that it was the screwdriver handle melting. On the up side, Sears just gave me a new screwdriver. (Yay, Craftsman tools.)
    – 3Dave
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 18:15

3 Answers 3


I couldn't watch the video, but usually you can go by these guidelines:

  • if it's white, it's coolant
  • if it's blueish, it's oil
  • if it's grey, it combustion

but the smell plays a big role.

I'm not sure why the brake fluid answer was down voted because, on some cars, it would be a possibility.

There are a few tests to do:

  • is it only at startup? then puddle from a leak may be settling and then burning off at startup.

  • does it get worse when you rev the engine? then look for a gasket / seal leak.

  • open the radiator when the engine is cold, start the car, rev the engine; does the coolant bubble? if so, you have a leak between the coolant and the combustion chambers.

  • open the dipstick, put a piece of paper on top of the tube, rev the engine; it should move a bit, as blow-by is natural; if it flys out, there you have a leak between the oil and the combustion chambers.

by doing these tests, you can slowly narrow it down.


Eventually I found out the problem! I had a oil leak onto the alternator! A new alternator and finding the leak solved the problem! Thanks to everyone for their answers


Brake fluid burns white if the diaphram in the booster chamber ruptures. Do you get more white smoke when you pump the brakes? Because the booster chamber is connected to the intake, a leak here will suck fluid into the engine.

Maybe just check brake fluid level.

  • Brake fluid isn't (usually) in the booster, and a ruptured booster diaphragm wouldn't let it into the engine (but depending on the set up of the engine compartment a brake fluid leak might drip onto the exhaust manifold.
    – dlu
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 3:08

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