A steaming car can cause alarms and worries. You may find that your vehicle is constantly steaming, but you don’t feel any temperature increase.
Knowing the cause of the steam can help answer any concerns and let you know the next course of action. With a proper diagnosis, you can prevent any further engine damage.
An engine has many moving parts. It uses gasoline in the combustion chamber, responsible for motion in your vehicle.
Because of all this internal action, it is not uncommon for air and gas to move around.
Steam often escapes the engines when one of these processes begins to malfunction.
Any oil that touches the outside of the engine can burn off quickly due to the heat, creating steam. The steam can also smell bad because of the burnt oil.
It won’t cause any damage to your engine’s exterior, but it could start a breakdown of small parts the oil touches. The steam may be coming from oil spilling in from another area.
Steam can arise from the car when the copper wires of the alternator begin to spark and touch other parts.
It creates a chemical odor from the ozone hitting high temperatures. It is a sign that the alternator may get burnt out.
You’ll often notice that the scent accompanies a check engine light signal and low voltage from the car’s dashboard or lights.
A component may be leaking other liquids on top of the engine. It is a common occurrence among engines with V configurations.
Most of the time, it is a sign of a problem with a valve cover gasket which is easy to fix. However, if left unchecked, it could develop into a much more expensive problem.
When your car’s coolant leaks, it can react with the other areas of the vehicle, causing steam. While it can be a concern since it is the coolant flow, it mostly comes from your other systems like the air conditioning cooling system.
It is the reason why your car does not increase in temperature even with the steam. It can also happen with the transmission fluid or power steering fluid.
Older vehicles will have some steam escaping from the oil filler cap. It is a sign of a worn-out piston ring or a clog. Older engines tend to produce more heat which can lead to some of the steam escaping the cap.
Without the right passage through a tube or piston, the steam can escape.
How Do I Know It’s Not Overheating?
Overheating cars tend to show the same signs and symptoms.
Here are things you should look out for:
● The lack of any unusual sound: The thump people hear when their car is overheating is a problem with a radiator’s thermostat. It only happens when the thermostat fails and is a sign that the temperature is increasing in the car. Also, watch out for a ticking sound which means that the engine’s oil is not causing lubrication.
● No coolant leaks on the ground: Coolant leaking could be a sign that it’s coming from the engine. If there’s no leak, then it’s fine as it means that your temperature is under control.
● Consistent engine power: An overheating engine will reduce its output to compensate for the strain it’s getting from the heat. You’ll notice that your car is slower than usual. You’ll even have a hard time catching up to traffic.
● Your car’s hood stays cool: When your vehicle is overheating, you’ll feel it immediately when you touch the hood. The hot metal can scald or burn. You should have the ability to hold it for around ten seconds without getting burnt. If the heat reaches extreme levels, then it’s a sign that the engine is getting more heat than usual.
● The temperature gauge is the same: The car’s temperature gauge will tell you when there is a sign of overheating. If it says the same even with the steam, your vehicle isn’t having any temperature problem. Be careful, as a coolant leak can cause some malfunctioning on the gauge. Verify that the car has a cooler temperature through other means as well.
● No burning smell: An increase in temperature will be noticeable as it will cause excessive heat to touch the plastic and rubber parts of the car. When that happens, you’ll notice a pungent odor similar to burning or singing of the materials.
While white smoke may not always show a big issue, you should still have precautions to ensure that it doesn’t develop into something worse.
Check your dashboard to see if there is any sign of overheating. If there isn’t, the next part you should check should be the oil gauge and oil pressure. The check engine lights up to signify that there might be an issue with the engine.
Stop the car and park at a safe location. Then shut off the engine and add a bit of gas to the tank if you have any extra.
The next goal should be to reach the nearest repair shop. If you feel a problem with the car’s performance and think you might not reach your destination, then call for help. Call a tow service to get it to the shop.
Steam without overheating may seem like a small problem, but it is a sign of an issue that can develop further.
Don’t ignore it, as it could end up costing you more in the long run. You don’t want to be on the other end of a stalled engine. Like any car issue, one problem can have a ripple effect, affecting many other parts.
The best solution is to go to a reliable car repair service. They’ll have the expertise and equipment to handle any problem you may encounter.
Repairs and maintenance will help prolong the lifespan of your vehicle, so you can enjoy it for many years to come.
NOLA Automotive Repairs has been serving New Orleans clients for nineteen years, making us one of the trusted auto repair shops in The Big Easy.
We offer a variety of services including engine repair, brake jobs, AC repair, and diagnostics.