Engine Diagnosis & Oil in the Exhaust

Updated March 21, 2017

Oil that burns off in the exhaust of an automobile can lead to serious problems, including total engine failure. If your vehicle does not have enough oil to lubricate and help cool the engine, then engine components may overheat and freeze.

Signs of Oil in the Exhaust

Oil burning off is usually seen in the form of blue smoke coming out of the exhaust or tailpipe. If you suspect that your car is burning oil, check the oil level frequently, adding oil if the tank is low.


If oil is burning in your engine, then chances are that a gasket or O-ring has rotted and is not properly keeping oil from inside the cylinder. As a result, oil could coat the spark plug and cause it to misfire. The spark plug will have to be removed and cleaned or replaced.

What to Do?

Continue to listen for misfires and check the oil level. Using a thicker weight of oil along with some oil additives to thicken up and lubricate the oil system can help prevent leaks and extend the life of the engine. Eventually, the gaskets will need to be replaced in order to prevent oil leaks worsening.

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About the Author

David McGuffin is a writer from Asheville, N.C. and began writing professionally in 2009. He has Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of North Carolina, Asheville and Montreat College in history and music, and a Bachelor of Science in outdoor education. McGuffin is recognized as an Undergraduate Research Scholar for publishing original research on postmodern music theory and analysis.