I just noticed my 92 Grand Am is spitting out a lot of white exhaust and has a gas smell to it. I made it home but engine started sputtering and seemed like car was going into cardiac arrest. Haven't checked coolant yet as car needs to cool down but oil looks like it's ok. Maybe needs a quart or so. What could cause these issues?

  • Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! Usually white smoke would indicate there's an issue with a coolant leak into the combustion chamber, but considering you've stated there's a smell of gas, I don't think that's your issue. You may have a stuck injector spewing all kinds of gas into the engine, which could account for it, but usually there's black smoke in these instances showing un-burnt fuel. There'd have to be a lot of fuel for it not to be black. Anyway, just me rambling. Get that oil topped off as it's never good to run an engine low of oil. Dec 2, 2017 at 18:10
  • Is this an issue anyone could fix? Neither me or husband are car savvy really but cannot afford a mechanic.
    – Brandi
    Dec 2, 2017 at 19:24
  • Possibly, but you have to diagnose what's going on, first. Dec 2, 2017 at 20:09
  • It's fine to say anyone could fix it, but it's heavily down to tools you have and if you have the correct parts. It's almost CERTAINLY a head gasket problem. The smell of gas will be unburnt fuel leaving the combustion chamber through the exhaust, but it will also not be black due to not heating up all that much thanks to the coolant doing it's job INSIDE the combustion chamber rather than inside the block of the engine. The engine could also potentially be losing oil through a leak elsewhere in the engine, but that'd need someone experienced to look it over.
    – yollooool
    Dec 3, 2017 at 23:20

1 Answer 1


It sounds like a cracked block. Like what one person said above in the comments, "a coolant leak into the combustion chamber". Coolant only gets into the combustion chamber through a crack in the engine block. A blown head gasket will cause a loss of compression, but won't cause coolant to be in the cylinder. One thing to check to determine if it's a cracked block is to look at the oil stick for white froth. This white froth is water in your oil.

  • That's not true - it is quite possible for a head gasket to fail between a waterway and a combusion chamber, allowing coolant into the cylinder.
    – Nick C
    Jul 20, 2018 at 9:03
  • The waterway is a solid metal tube that goes through the engine. It is carved out of the engine block. The waterway doesn't touch any gaskets. If it did, the hot water/steam under high pressure would disolve/destroy the gasket. A gasket is just a thin piece of cardboard. Jul 23, 2018 at 19:29
  • There are plenty of cars that have waterways in the cylinder head, passing through the headgasket to get there. The headgasket is usually made of copper, and is much more substantial than a piece of cardboard. Many cars also have coolant passing through other gaskets, for example between the cylinder block and the water pump (usually a rubber gasket)
    – Nick C
    Jul 24, 2018 at 8:51

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .