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General E46 Forum
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Old 01-14-2012, 08:41 PM   #1
FrankpE46
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White Smoke from Exhaust but no water in oil????

Ok, so this morning i headed out to Starbucks like any other morning, and I noticed some white smoke pulling off the green light. Thought that was a bit weird, but figured it was still cold. Well, it just kept on coming after every time I stopped and then took off. Got to my destination, and checked the oil, and it was bone dry!! No oil sensor light warning. I added a few quarts of Synthetic and the engine started knocking. I quickly shut it off. Restarted it again and it stil had the knock and ALOT more white smoke. While at an idle for a few second it then stalled. Started it again and headed down the block, and the smoke was unbelievable. Took it on the highway and NO smoke, but felt hesitation on the throttle. Came home and let it idle, and the idle was real rough, almost like the timing was off, or it was misfiring. Didnt do any of this until the oil was added. The smell of the smoke is strange, smells almost sweet, but like a gun was fired smell. make sense? - Not like when you smell antifreeze - Someone had mentioned to me that it could be misfiring due to fuel injectors messed up/ oil burning due to timing messed up/ combination of these sending out the smoke. Any ideas?? Dont want to get burned at the shop $$$$
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Old 01-14-2012, 08:45 PM   #2
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recheck oil level when cool. you might've overfilled it.
you need to make sure its steam of smoke?
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:08 PM   #3
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Steam seems to be pretty common in the morning for me...
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:12 PM   #4
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Are you getting any codes? a misfire would set your SES light to go on.
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:17 PM   #5
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Just from the info you wrote I would be removing the valve cover and checking each and every rocker arm cause it sure sounds like you have a broken one; rough running, white smoke, knocking noise, stalling, hesitation..........
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:34 PM   #6
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TOMOYER - Actually after I took it for a drive on the highway there's no more knocking.

REPLIES - I know the steam you're referencing(wish it was that) - It's a pure cloud of white smoke, when I start it, almost embarrassing. When I take off from a stop even more comes out. Once i get going, and driving it pretty much stops. Not sure if that's indicative of the pressure building up from compression. Very confused.. Anyone know a good mechanic in Richmond, VA?
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:36 PM   #7
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TOMOYER - Actually after I took it for a drive on the highway there's no more knocking.

REPLIES - I know the steam you're referencing(wish it was that) - It's a pure cloud of white smoke, when I start it, almost embarrassing. When I take off from a stop even more comes out. Once i get going, and driving it pretty much stops. Not sure if that's indicative of the pressure building up from compression. Very confused.. Anyone know a good mechanic in Richmond, VA?
go smell it. you can tell difference between burning oil smoke or just condensation smoke.
dont panic, go do what I told you to do. check oil level and coolant level.
yes idling makes more smoke its normal.
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:40 PM   #8
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Yeah, I did smell it. Looks at first like blown head gasket, from intake side, but when you smell it, doesnt smell like that at all. Burnt, like gun was fired, you know.... gun powder. Never smelled that before. Tending to think it is oil

Can we post videos to this site? Would like to show what Im talking about.

Last edited by FrankpE46; 01-14-2012 at 09:42 PM. Reason: addition
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:41 PM   #9
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Once the rocker arm is broken, there will be no more knocking, that valve isn't opening or closing and it is more likely that an intake rocker arm broke. So at this point, until you do some more checking, don't rule it out. When a rocker arm breaks, you will often get whitish smoke out the tail pipe, rough idle, lack of power , etc., all you described.
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:42 PM   #10
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Yeah, I did smell it. Looks at first like blown head gasket, from intake side, but when you smell it, doesnt smell like that at all. Burnt, like gun was fired, you know.... gun powder. Never smelled that before. Tending to think it is oil.
head gasket has no intake or exhaust side. it sits between the head the block.
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:45 PM   #11
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And now another reason to be pulling the valve cover, and spark plugs. Make sure that the gaskets that seal the spark plug wells aren't leaking and the spark plug wells filling with oil (this usually won't produce smoke out the back unless it is mis-firing that badly because the plugs are shorting out because of the oil). At the same time you can check the rocker arms and do a compression test to make sure all cylinders have good compression.
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:46 PM   #12
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Once the rocker arm is broken, there will be no more knocking, that valve isn't opening or closing and it is more likely that an intake rocker arm broke. So at this point, until you do some more checking, don't rule it out. When a rocker arm breaks, you will often get whitish smoke out the tail pipe, rough idle, lack of power , etc., all you described.
rocker arm? there is no rocker arm in a M54 engine.
its a cam/lifter DOHC engine.
which old school american V8 that uses push rods are you talking about?
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:47 PM   #13
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Is there a site that I can watch a video to see how for both the valve cover and head gasket?

So Jason, are you saying you believe it IS the head gasket?
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:51 PM   #14
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Is there a site that I can watch a video to see how for both the valve cover and head gasket?

So Jason, are you saying you believe it IS the head gasket?
I dont think so. thats why I am telling you to check coolant and oil level.
either one of then will be affected if the head gasket is leaking.
head gasket wont cause oil loss but it can cause coolant loss and overheating issue.
as for oil loss, when was the last time youve done oil separator, valve cover gasket, and oil filter housing gasket? these three have big influence on oil loss.
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:52 PM   #15
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Whoops, pardon me, lol........correct, no rocker arms on the M54 engine as the camshaft lobes act as the rocker arms, so, inspect the cam shafts to make sure there isn't a lobe that is flattened out.
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:54 PM   #16
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Whoops, pardon me, lol........correct, no rocker arms on the M54 engine as the camshaft lobes act as the rocker arms, so, inspect the cam shafts to make sure there isn't a lobe that is flattened out.
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Old 01-15-2012, 07:22 AM   #17
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The coolent level was fine Jason. Oil level yesterday was 0%. Filled it to normal level. Had even more smoke. I think the part we're missing out of this is that I wasnt getting any smoke in the beginning because there wasnt any oil in the car. We put oil in it and more problems started. The question I really would love to know is, how long I've been running on no oil? What dammage did I do internally. Why was there a knocking when I put oil in yesterday?
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Old 01-15-2012, 07:38 AM   #18
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That your smoke was consistent when accelerating after stop makes me hope it's just ccv. At first I was thinking just humidity blowing out, and it still could be that, but I have to suggest ccv because it's associated both with clouds of smoke and oil loss.

When you found no oil on the dipstick (at all, right?), if you checked oil just after you'd stopped, you could have had a quart more than you thought. You might still have been a little low, but not 3 qts. low...which you did say you added, right? A few qts. I think you said.

Have you checked your oil level recently, when the car is cold on level ground? Adding an extra 1/2 qt. is bad; you're better running low.

Also, btw, has your oil light been coming on before any of this? Would it come on at start up and then go off right away and you didn't mention it because you thought it wasn't related? If so, that's your oil light telling you it's bad, and reminding you to check oil.

You weren't 3 qts. low, I don't think, but please check your oil level! First poster hinted at that, and then you got onto other things!
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Old 01-15-2012, 10:12 AM   #19
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Oil light never came on at all. Neither when starting the car as an alert or when driving.

Checked oil level this morning cold and it was just under the min level mark.

Started car, and immediate knocking heard, but ended quickly, ALOT of white smoke. Shut car off.
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Old 01-15-2012, 10:38 AM   #20
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Oil light never came on at all. Neither when starting the car as an alert or when driving.

Checked oil level this morning cold and it was just under the min level mark.

Started car, and immediate knocking heard, but ended quickly, ALOT of white smoke. Shut car off.
just under min mark...fill it up to full!!!
amazed that your oil level light never came on.
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