I have white smoke coming from the tailpipe has a burnt plastic smell the engine is not smoking and the car is not overheating. The car runs and sounds fine. the car set up for the past 6 months. the person i bought it from was meticulous everything has been replaced the headliner interior new battery etc. I trust the people that sold it to me and feel they wouldn't do me wrong. I paid them just what it would benefit them to scrap it. The only thing that had not been done to the car was replace the water pump. could something from it sitting for so long be the problem. I do have to jump start the vehicle because the connections on the battery are loose. what do i do to determine the issue

  • Make model and year of car? Engine size?
    – Moab
    Jan 19, 2019 at 1:17
  • I had a water pump fail catastrophically on an engine that had been stored for 6 months. this stalled the cam and bent the valves expensive.
    – Jasen
    Jan 19, 2019 at 6:11
  • You have a leak, where moisture cold air or coolant is getting into the combustion chamber and burning Santa Claus smoke
    – user38183
    Jan 19, 2019 at 8:58

3 Answers 3


Have a mechanic do a pressure test and leakdown test on the car. White smoke from the exhaust (lots of it) is an indicator of a headgasket problem - but it doesn't sound major, if the car temperature is normal. Get it checked, and then decide if the cost of a new head gasket is worth it for this car.

  • Depends on the car; you don't need to pull an engine to do a headgasket on many, and the other work will depend on the mileage etc.
    – PeteCon
    Jan 19, 2019 at 14:12

What temperature was it and how moist (rain, dew snow) was the air when started? Sounds more like condensation (normal) than an engine issues. Please expalin the weather conditions a bit more?

  • Keith: It was 330 this afternoon in Gulfport, Mississippi it just started to drizzle. it has been comfortable cold a few nights last night especially but the only time i have driven the vehicle was when i picked it up and drove it home. it was maybe 1.5 miles. I didn't notice when i drove it home as it was probably 30 degrees outside. I appreciate any insight that you can provide
    – amanda
    Jan 18, 2019 at 0:13
  • Im sorry I picked up the vehicle on Monday morning
    – amanda
    Jan 18, 2019 at 0:15

white exhaust is normal after starting from cold. it's just steam produced as part of the smoke from fuel burning normally. as the exhaust system heats up the steam will become transparent.

Mellted plastic smell and hard starting can be a sign of the engine earth connection being poor and the starting and charging current overheating A secondary earth wire.

Remove, check, clean, and re-fit the engine ground strap/wire

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