Car troubleshooting tips to diagnose strange sounds and smoke

You're in a hurry. You run to the car, jump in to start the vehicle and immediately notice that something...

You're in a hurry. You run to the car, jump in to start the vehicle and immediately notice that something is wrong. The car is making strange sounds, or while looking in the rear view mirror, you notice smoke coming from the exhaust pipe. Are these major problems or nothing to be concerned about? Learn how to identify unusual sounds and smoke so you won't be stranded on the side of the road.

Strange sounds

Fortunately, unusual sounds can help you identify common car problems. For example, a squealing sound could be the result of a worn-out part, like the air-condition, the power steering, or a fan belt. If it is the fan belt, it may just need a simple tightening, rather than replacing.

If you hear a high-pitched sound, even when the car has been turned off, your radiator pressure cap could be the culprit.

A gentle pinging or knocking sound can mean that you need to upgrade the octane rating of the car's gasoline. Or, you may need to replace your spark plugs.

Loud knocking sounds coming from the engine could be a loose bearing, faulty piston, loose rocker arm or carbon buildup. However, to be on the safe side, don't drive the car since a bearing or piston problem could ruin your engine. Seek professional car troubleshooting help.


Smoke coming from your car's tailpipe can mean several things. You may see white smoke immediately after starting the car during winter months. However, if you continue to see smoke after driving for a while, the head gasket may be leaking or you may have a cracked cylinder head or engine block.

Blue smoke indicates an oil leak. This could be a problem with the valve stem seals, or you may need a new or rebuilt engine.

Grey smoke may be the automatic transmission fluid. Check the level in the dipstick and if it is low, add more fluid.

Diagnosing black smoke depends on the model of your car. In an older car with a carburator, the mixture of fuel and air may need to be adjusted, or gasoline may be flooding the engine through the carburator float. However, if you have a fuel injection system, your best bet is to contact an Atlanta-area car repair shop so they can provide car troubleshooting help.

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