Ran car too long, white smoke came out, what's wrong?


Asked by Jun 15, 2015 at 05:30 AM about the 2005 Pontiac Vibe Base

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I was somewhere today and I forgot
my car was on and it was on for
about 45 min to an hour. When I
drove it away white smoke began to
come out of my exhaust, and I left if
for a while to let it cool down. When I
started driving it again whit white
smoke came out again for about 5
more min. But then went away. Also
the car began to slow down and
speed up...I don't get what's up?
Some websites say it's just the water
getting in and created steam, or I
don't have enough to coolant.
Anyone else have any thoughts for

5 Answers


White smoke is usually a head gasket or cylinderhead failure. Have a shop perform a block check, that will confirm diagnosis.

Bob Beaman

Check the engine coolant level. If it is low have the vehicle checked by a trusted repair shop.


Did your temp indicator tell you the car was overheating when you got in after leaving it idle for an hour? If not, then your fix may be cheaper than major head work.


No, it didn't say it was overheating at all...that's what confused me the most... Taver91


I did a little research on extended idling as symptoms it might cause and found that on some vehicles the catalysts can go out then hydrocarbons build up inside, when you start driving it again the catalysts fire back up and start burning the hydrocarbons out thus creating white smoke, this is very hard on catalytic converters as they tend to overheat when this happens,I'm not saying that this is what happened to you but at least it is something else to go on, if you can look underneath the car and can see the converters, you might be able to tell if they look somewhat discolored, if they are you may possibly have converter failure sometime down the road. Just some info I thought might be relevant.

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