Why Is Smoke Coming From Under Hood But Not Overheating?

Usually, white steam or smoke coming from the engine hood is a sign that you have engine overheating issues. What happens when you see smoke coming from under hood but not overheating? What could be the cause?

There are several reasons why you see smoke under the hood but the car is not overheating. But the simplest explanation is that fluid has landed on a hot engine part, such as the exhaust manifold, and the hot part is burning it off. Below, you will learn other possible reasons for this and how to address the issue.

white smoke coming from under hood but not overheating

Why Is Smoke Coming From Under Hood But Not Overheating?

If you are wondering why is my car smoking under the hood but not overheating—there are several reasons that could cause smoke coming from under the hood even when the vehicle is not overheating.

The most common reasons for white smoke coming from under the hood but not overheating are oil spillage and leakages, loose or corroded terminals, and electrical wiring issues. These possible causes are simple to fix but can escalate to severe problems if you ignore them for an extended period.

Oil spillage

If you see white smoke coming from under the hood but not overheating, it could be there’s an oil spillage that is dropping on a hot engine component. Maybe you spilled the engine oil during the oil change or there’s oil leakage. Engine oil can leak from several places, such as the valve cover oil seals, cracked valve cover, cracked timing cover, and faulty crankshaft oil seal.

Also, steering oil leaks from the pump, reservoir, or lines could drip on hot engine parts and burn off. If you see a car smoking under hood and burning smell from the engine compartment, it’s an indication of an oil leak somewhere in the engine.

Electrical wiring issues

Hot or burning electrical wires are another common cause of white smoke from under hood. If the smoke is coming due to a hot or burning electrical wire, you will perceive a pungent odor.

If the issue is from the copper wire in the alternator, you won’t perceive the smell unless the alternator is completely burnt. When that happens, the vehicle will have low voltage and the check engine light will appear on the dashboard.

Smoke from battery terminals

Wherever there is smoke, there is a problem. A poor connection at the battery terminal or at the other end, or a shorted positive battery terminal can cause smoke from the battery. If you have loose or corroded battery terminals that is preventing good connection, you will see arching on the battery connections.

Smoke from car batteries is no joke as they are dangerous and could cause explosives. It could be the car battery has internal shorts, making it very hot and causing the smoke you see. If this is the case, the best way of addressing the problem is by changing the battery.

Exhaust leaks

A leak in the exhaust system, such as a damaged pipe or cracked exhaust manifold, can cause smoke to emanate from under the hood. So, when you see smoke coming from the engine compartment, take a closer look at the exhaust manifold and pipes to see if the leaks are coming from those areas.

What Do I Do If My Car Starts Smoking But Not Overheating?

In most cases, smoke coming from under the hood but not overheating on Chevy or any other car model is not a major issue. If, however, you ignore the smoke and continue driving for an extended period, it can lead to catastrophic issues like battery explosions and fire outbreaks.

If smoke is emanating from your car underhood, look into these areas:

car smoking under hood and burning smell

Check for oil leaks

Check for oil leaks in the engine bay if you think a fluid leak is the culprit. If low oil pressure light is illuminating on the dashboard due to oil leaks, do not drive the vehicle. Top up the oil until it gets the normal oil level mark on the dipstick.

Head straight to a repair shop for proper diagnostics or inspect the valve cover oil seals, the power steering pump, steering hoses, the engine timing cover, and the main oil seals for leaks. Replace or fix the faulty component as needed.

Fix burning or shorting wires.

Trace the smoke and see if there is any arching or burning electrical wires. If there is, it could be a positive wire is shorting somewhere. Turn off the vehicle, then locate and separate the shorting wires or contact your mechanic.

Clean the battery terminals.

If the smoke is coming from the battery terminals, thoroughly clean the cables and the battery terminals. After that, retighten them properly. Also, check the small wires that connect to the positive battery cable and ensure they are not shorting somewhere. If the battery keeps smoking after cleaning the terminals, there is a chance it is shorting inside. Contact your mechanic to take a closer look or replace the battery.

Check the exhaust for leaks.

Finally, check the exhaust for leaks. If the exhaust pipe or manifold is cracked or damaged, it can cause the smoke. However, exhaust leaks are easy to identify. If the smoke is coming from the exhaust, which indicates a leak, the engine will be making a loud and aggressive noise. Have your mechanic fix the leaking area.

Is It Normal For Smoke To Come Out Of Car Hood?

Whenever there is smoke in the engine hood, there is a problem. It could be a minor or severe issue. Even minor issues can escalate to catastrophic problems if not addressed on time.

The most common reason smoke comes out of the car hood is a small amount of engine oil and other fluids leaking onto or spilled on the exhaust system or on a hot engine part. The other fluids may include the brake, transmission, engine coolant, or power steering fluid dripping on a hot exhaust system.

Final words

Car problems are surely what you don’t want to experience, especially when they occur in the middle of nowhere when you least expect them. You always want to have a smooth, trouble-free ride without anything to worry about.

Unfortunately, cars break down at one point or the other. So, if you see smoke coming from under hood but not overheating car, you don’t need to panic. However, you should track and address the culprit before it escalates to major issues. Like I always advise, if you don’t trust your gut, contact your mechanic to find and fix the root cause.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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