Blowing white smoke on start up only, and all of a sudden


Asked by Apr 01, 2011 at 09:37 AM about the 1999 Saab 9-5 4 Dr 2.3t Turbo Wagon

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I recently bought this 9-5 wagon and as I live in Mass, I had to have it inspected. The emissions part past but the safety part failed. One of the issues was a small hole in my exhaust somewhere. The mechanic  I took it to said the hole was near the catalytic converter and that he would weld it shut. Another fail was the hand brake not working. The mechanic said the handbrake was essentially frozen and he could unstick it with heat. So he was going to do those two things. And, he did. Only, now when i start it I get a huge cloud of white smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe. I know nothing about cars,m but it wasn't doing that before; any thoughts?

4 Answers


SORRY, I thought my make/model would carry over from my reg. I am talking about a 1999 9-5 wagon, the 4 cyl. version, manual transmission. It has 103k on it and is a perfect LOOKING car... I am happy to find this club, of course I have lots of questions and am soaking up all the posts here.


While your mechanic ia checking the other items, have him check for coolant in the oil sump. This will show up as a white foam or substance on the dipstick if you check your oil. If he finds it, have him pressure test the cooling system. White smoke indicates water leaking in to the combustion chamber. You may have a blown head gasket or one about to go that is just leaking slowly for now. It seeps down in to the cylinders when the car is idle and burns off when you start the car up henceforth the big cloud on startup. Good luck and keep us posted.....

2 people found this helpful.

Thank you Chris, I will do just that. I already told my mechanic about it. In the meanwhile, I thought of one other possibility: I did spill coolant all over the motor recently when I was adding some. Is there any way at all this is just that? It has started to blow far less white smoke on startup, BUT it has also gone from 12 degrees to 50 degrees in the mornings.... I just want it to be anything less serious than a head gasket so I am asking - just in case. Thanks lots. Jill


It's unlikely that spilled coolant would cause white smoke from the tailpipe. It would have to fall somewhere near a broken vacumn line, which would be another problem, that was allowing the coolant to be sucked into the combustion chamber and thereby creating steam. Unlikely, but anything can be possible. I don't know what engine you have in yours, but in my 2002 9-3 SE, this was a common problem that was often fixed just by re-torquing the head bolts. I would try that option first as from what I've read on other forums, this quite often fixes the leakage IF it's not too bad yet. IF it's the head gasket, it's not really that bad a job compared to some other cars. You'll just want to make sure that whoever does it drops the oil pan and makes sure all the bearings in the lower end are clean and that the oil screen pick up isn't clogged. A good mechanic would do that as a matter of course anyway. Keep us informed.

3 people found this helpful.

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