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Blue Smoke from Exhaust of Car While Driving

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Seeing blue smoke coming from the exhaust while driving can be an alarming sight for any vehicle owner. It is a clear indication that the engine is burning oil, and understanding the cause behind this issue is crucial. In this article, we will explore the common reasons for blue smoke and discuss potential remedies for each scenario.

Identifying the Problem: Bad Rings

One possible cause of blue smoke is worn or damaged piston rings. This issue is often accompanied by a noticeable loss of engine power, especially when driving uphill. When the rings are faulty, they fail to maintain a proper seal between the piston and cylinder wall. As a result, oil leaks into the combustion chamber, leading to blue smoke. Additionally, bad rings contribute to weak compression, further reducing engine power.

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How to get rid of blue smoke from the exhaust

To confirm if bad rings are indeed the problem, it is recommended to visit a reputable machine shop that specializes in the making of your vehicle. A mechanic can perform a wet compression test by inserting a compression gauge into the spark plug hole and taking readings while the engine is cranking. By introducing oil into the cylinder and comparing the readings, they can determine if the rings are worn. If this diagnosis is confirmed, the vehicle will require a ring job or, in severe cases, a new engine.

Considering the Costs

Repairing bad rings or replacing the engine can be a significant financial undertaking. If your vehicle is still under warranty, the expenses may be covered. However, if it is not, it is advisable to evaluate the cost of the repairs against the value of the vehicle. Depending on the circumstances, it might be more feasible to consider replacing the vehicle altogether.

Identifying the Problem: Bad Valve Stem Seals

Another potential cause of blue smoke is worn valve stem seals. If you primarily notice blue smoke while accelerating, it indicates that oil is leaking past the valve stems into the combustion chamber. The burning oil then exits the exhaust pipe, resulting in blue smoke emissions.

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How to get rid of blue smoke from the exhaust

Replacing the valve stem seals is the recommended solution for this problem. If your vehicle is still within the warranty period, the repairs should be covered. However, if the warranty has expired, the cost of the repairs can be substantial. It is important to note that focusing solely on replacing the valve stem seals may resolve the issue in most cases. If the problem persists, a complete valve job might be necessary.

Identifying the Problem: Turbocharger Seal Leaks

For vehicles equipped with a turbocharger, another potential source of blue smoke is seal leaks within the turbocharger system. If oil leaks from the seals, it can come into contact with hot exhaust components, resulting in smoke. However, this scenario only applies to vehicles with a turbocharger.

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How to get rid of blue smoke from the exhaust

If your vehicle has a turbocharger and you suspect seal leaks as the cause of the blue smoke, it is advisable to have a mechanic inspect the turbocharger system. If the seals are indeed leaking, the mechanic can recommend the appropriate repairs. If your vehicle is still covered by warranty, the necessary service should be included.

Seeking Professional Assistance

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If none of the previously mentioned causes apply or if a definitive diagnosis cannot be reached, it is crucial to consult with a trusted garage or mechanic. It is recommended to choose a garage approved by organizations like the AAA for reputable service and potential dispute resolution.


Blue smoke from the exhaust while driving is an indication of engine oil burning. By identifying the specific cause, such as bad rings, bad valve stem seals or turbocharger seal leaks, appropriate remedies can be implemented. Addressing these issues promptly will help maintain the performance and longevity of your vehicle.

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