Generally, a low oil level can cause a number of problems in a car such as an overheated engine, warping, friction, seals breaking, and others. Thereby, you may wonder if a low oil can be responsible for causing a car to emit smoke as well or not.
Thus, go through the explanations ahead to find out the answer to this query.
Can Low Oil Cause Smoke?
A low oil level won’t cause a car to emit smoke, neither through the tailpipe nor from the car’s hood. In fact, a low oil level is unrelated to smoke going out of the exhaust or from the hood. Unless oil leaks and go into the combustion chamber or spills onto the hot engine, a car won’t smoke.
When the oil level is low, it’s unlikely to cause smoke to go out through the exhaust pipe or from underneath the car’s hood. Only if there’s an oil leakage has occurred which is causing a low oil level while the leaked oil is dripping into the combustion compartment of the engine or has spilled on the hot oil and burning, the car will emit smoke.
But seeing black, blue, or white smoke coming out of your car, you might think whether it’s happening because of a low oil level or not. So, here this query has been explained precisely too.
A low oil level will never cause a car to emit black smoke. Black smoke is generally produced when the car is burning raw fuel because of a leaking fuel injector, a failed ignition part or engine sensor, or a faulty fuel pressure controller. Raw fuel makes its path to the exhaust system of a car due to any of these mentioned reasons and goes out through the exhaust pipe in a form of black smoke.
Low oil in a car is unlikely to cause a car to emit blue exhaust smoke unless an internal oil leakage is responsible for a low oil level. Usually, worn-out pistons and piston rings, worn valve seals, damaged engine oil seals, and faulty head gasket are responsible for oil leaking which goes into the combustion chamber and burns with fuel and air there and cause bluish smoke going out of the exhaust pipe.
White smoke isn’t either caused by low oil in a car. If the car engine is encountering difficulties due to burning leaked coolant in the combustion chamber because of worn-out cylinder heads, cracked engine block, or a blown-out head gasket, a car will emit white smoke.
Can Low Oil Cause White Smoke From Exhaust?
Low oil will never cause a car or any other vehicle that runs on oil to emit white smoke from its exhaust.
White exhaust smoke is visible in a car/vehicle when the engine is burning leaked coolant in the combustion compartment which occurs mainly due to 3 reasons. First, when the head gasket is blown out due to an overheated engine, coolant leaks and drips in the combustion compartment where it burns into white exhaust smoke. Secondly, if the engine block is cracked, coolant can seep through it and burn into white exhaust smoke. Lastly, when the airtight seals of the cylinder heads are damaged, coolant can flow through and burn into white exhaust smoke.
Other than a coolant leakage, even a low on oil situation due to an oil leakage isn’t likely to cause white smoke from the exhaust.
Can Low Oil Cause Smoke From Hood?
A low oil situation in a car or any other vehicle isn’t responsible for smoke emission from the hood unless a car/vehicle is low on oil due to internal oil leakage.
Most commonly when oil and fluids including engine coolant, brake and transmission fluid, coolant, or even window washing liquids accidentally or due to a leakage spill onto the engine or on the car’s exhaust system, smoke goes out from the hood.
Thus, if your car/vehicle is showing a low oil sign as well as is emitting smoke from the hood, know that it’s not due to a usual low oil situation, but because of oil/fluid leakage.
3 Reasons Why Low Oil Does and Doesn’t Cause Smoke?
Low oil is least likely to cause smoke in a car/vehicle, however, still there’s one reason that at times can cause a low oil level which will end up causing smoke in a car/vehicle. Here, 2 main reasons behind a low oil level that doesn’t cause smoke have been explained with one particular reason that can cause both low oil and smoke in a car.
2 Reasons Why Low Oil Doesn’t Cause Smoke
Engine Is Consuming Oil:
While driving, the engine of a car or any other vehicle burns a little amount of oil internally which is normal. But when the engine starts to consume oil more than the normal ratio per day while the car/vehicle is being driven, a low oil level situation occurs. Especially if it’s an aged engine, it will consume more oil than a new one.
Thus, if the low oil has occurred due to an old engine’s increased ratio of consuming oil, it won’t ever cause smoke in a car/vehicle.
Low Oil Pressure:
Oil in a car/vehicle needs to be changed regularly after using it for a while. If you continue using the same oil for a long time, oil starts lacking pressure because an aged engine oil breaks down, turns thinner, and loses its capability of lubricating engine parts properly. That’s when the engine starts consuming more oil and the oil level becomes low.
If you are using the engine oil continuously without changing it and seeing the oil level go down, it won’t cause smoke, rather will damage the engine.
Reason Why Low Oil Can Cause Smoke
Faulty head gaskets, worn-out valve seals, degraded engine oil seals, and worn-out piston and piston rings can cause oil to leak in a car/vehicle. Then, this leaked oil goes into the combustion compartment, mixes with fuel and air, and burns there causing the car/vehicle to smoke. Only an oil leakage can simultaneously cause low oil and smoke.
What Happens When Engine Oil Is Low?
If till today’s date you are wondering what possible risks you may face while driving a car/vehicle with low engine oil, read the explanations below to know the answers.
Engine oil has a great role in keeping some of the key components cool of an engine where radiator coolant can’t reach. Thus, when the engine oil level is too, it can’t cool off those engine parts, thereby. engine overheats and causes irreparable damage to the engine.
Degrades The Engine’s Health:
When there’s a sufficient amount of engine oil, it flows within the engine while building up a seal between pistons and cylinders. But when the oil level is low, it breaks the seal and the optimum engine performance is considerably reduced.
Causes Potential Friction:
Engine oil lubricates the components of an engine while the engine is functioning. A low engine oil level won’t be able to lubricate the engine parts properly, thereby, while functioning the engine will go through excess friction which potentially can cause wear and tear, as well as, permanent damage to the engine.
Engine Will Expire:
If you continue to drive your vehicle with low engine oil and ignoring all the possible hampers, the engine will go through all the irreversible damages and eventually will expire in no time.
How To Fix Low Oil Causing Smoke?
Since low oil can cause smoke only if an oil leakage occurs and makes the oil level drop down, thus, here methods for fixing oil leakage are added so that you can fix the issues of both the low oil and emission of smoke at once.
Seek Professional Help:
If worn-out pistons and piston rings are responsible for an oil leakage that eventually is causing low oil as well as smoke, immediately seek help from professional mechanics to replace the rings. Replacing piston rings will solve the issue of smoke emission due to low oil.
In cases of damaged valve or engine oil seal, either take help from professionals or use sealers to seal again only if you know how to do it correctly to fix oil leaking that eventually will fix low oil and smoke emission issues.
Use Sealer To Fix Head Gasket:
If the blown-out head gasket is the reason behind an oil leakage which is making oil level dropdown, use a commercial head gasket sealer to fix the head gasket. Or else, replace the whole head gasket with the help of a professional.
A car won’t emit smoke from the exhaust pipe or from the hood if it has low oil because a low oil level isn’t associated with causing smoke in a car/other vehicles. Bu if low oil is caused by an internal oil leakage that has reached the combustion chamber and burning, it can cause exhaust smoke.
I am an automotive enthusiast and have been interested in cars since I was a little kid. I have worked in the automotive industry for many years and have extensive knowledge of vehicles and their engines. I am a father of two and I love spending time with my family.
Read more about the author here.