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White Smoke roaring out tail pipes.... ?

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I have a 1992 LX 5.0 Hatchback with 74,000 original miles, bought it new... Amoco Ultimate at EVERY STOP (but one, way back in 1994, and that was for a one tank of SHELL top grade) and Mobil 1 synthetic since 12,000 miles... the car has been a perfect vehicle until the other day when I went to start it ( do not drive it every day... I baby this car to death...) and it started blowing out white smoke that worsens when I drive it up the street... The car at first almost overcame me with a gasoline smell in the interior and a day later, on the second start, the smell was of a burning something... both pipes smoked white, and then continued to cigarette-style wisp after the car was turned off... The car runs a tad rough, not really bad, but really kills the road behind me with smoke when I go up the street!

I am so freaking out, right now... Is my baby gone, or what???

Thanks, guys!


White smoke is generally a blown head gasket.  Coolant is getting into the engine's combustion chambers and this is what is causing the smoke.  !st off stop driving it.  Second check your fluids.  Your radiator will be low and your oil may be okay or may look like chocolate milk.  Antifreeze,water and oil make a shitty lubricant. If mechanically inclined head gaskets can be changed in an afternoon.  If not, a mechanic can normally get it done in 5-6 hours and with about $100.00 bucks in parts.

Thanks, Jeff... However, a check of antifreeze reveals it is in perfect condition (usual color and everything), the oil is perfect on dipstick (no brown and no bubbles), and I got to check one spark plug before it got too dark, and it was white, not tan...

Could it be the gasoline? I use only BP Amoco ultimate but did they put too much ethanol in it, maybe?

Just wondering... How hard it is to learn how to do yourself? Ford place wants $1000.00, and $90.00 just for the diagnosis!

The plugs are white because there is water in the system and it turns to steam and cleans the plugs with each firing.  Oil looking good is suggestive that you haven't done any damage yet, but I would still not drive or run it any more.

I doubt it is the gas.  It would take water to make that white smoke (or several other fluids, but not alcohol.)

It runs rough because wherever the water is, that or those cylinders are not generating their normal level of energy.  You might be able to isolate where it is blown with a infared thermometer aimed at the exhaust manifolds.

It takes very little water to create a lot of smoke.

As to doing it yourself, the repair is not all that hard, but there is a lot of stuff to disconnect and move.  The heads generally ought to be lightly surfaced by a machine shop to insure there is no warpage.  The engine block should also be checked with a good steel straight edge for problems, though they tend to be rare.  A cracked block can cause identical problems, but is almost unheard of in a stock 5.0.  There is a lok to look for and a lot of detail that you need to  keep up with.  Books and articles will only get you so far, you should try and find someone to help you with the process.

oh and sometimes you can run the car with the radiator cap open and watch bubbles in the anti freeze-it is a dead giveaway of a blown head gasket, but isn't always present.


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