Water Coming out of Exhaust

Cars have an internal combustion engine that produces exhaust gases in its combustion process. These gases come from the engine through the car’s exhaust system. This system is composed mainly of a pipe that permits exhaust gases to exit the engine through its tailpipe and to the outside environment. In some cases, you will observe water flowing out of your car’s tailpipe. This is a sign that water is leaking from your car’s exhaust system. What could be the source or cause of this water? Should you panic when you see water coming from your car’s tailpipe?

Water coming from your car’s exhaust system is not a reason for you to panic because it does not always signify a problem with your vehicle. Instead, you need to find out the possible causes of this water and how to fix these issues. This will allow you to troubleshoot your car and restore your vehicle back to its normal function by fixing the problems.

The main function of your car exhaust system is to receive exhaust gases from the cylinders and filter out hazardous elements. The exhaust system basically operates as a funnel, directing exhaust gases from all of the engine’s cylinders and releasing them via the front pipe. The exhaust system starts at the engine combustion chambers and extends along the vehicle’s chassis until it exits from the visible tailpipe from where water drops come out of the exhaust and exhaust gases escape the vehicle. In between, it has other components which perform vital functions for your vehicle.

If the exhaust system in your car is there to filter out the hazardous elements in the gases that it receives from the cylinders. The exhaust system to crucial to your car’s functionality and it allows you to pass an emissions test. It decreases the harsh gases released into the atmosphere. It also reduces air pollution and ensures the engine’s operating condition is safe, clean, and quiet. The exhaust system acts as a type of funnel for directing all of the exhausts gases from the engine’s cylinders and releasing them via the exhaust. The system starts from the engine combustion changes and it goes all the way through the vehicle and is visible from the tailpipe which is where you’ll be seeing water coming out.

Why Water Comes Out Of Your Exhaust

There are many reasons why water is coming out of your car’s exhaust tailpipe. Some could be an actual problem with your car’s engine, while others do not indicate any significant issue.

In most cases, water dripping out of your exhaust will be due to normal causes such as water condensation, water melting after being frozen due to cold temperature, the catalytic converter working normal, or water getting into there after a flood. If water is coming out of these normal reasons, then you shouldn’t be alarmed when you see water dripping out of the exhaust.

However, if you suspect that water is leaking out due to any other reason such as a blown gasket, then you should take your car to the mechanic for an inspection. If you notice that water continues to leak out of your exhaust for a long time even if you think it’s down to natural causes, you should still take your car to the dealership for a repair.

1. Hot Engine

When you start your car for the first time in the day, its engine becomes the most heated part. The oil has to flow to different parts of the engine to cool them down and for lubrication. Before that, the engine will become very hot, which makes the exhaust system also hot. If the outside temperature is cold, water vapor will be formed on the exhaust system. Therefore, you will be able to see drips of water coming from your car’s tailpipe for several minutes before drying up. However, if these water droplets do not clear over time, there is a likelihood that your vehicle has a faulty engine or exhaust system.

2. Engine Water Condensation

Some pollutants are produced as your car engine undergoes an internal combustion process. Out of these pollutants, three components stand out. These are carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and water vapor. As the exhaust fumes exit the chamber water vapor and carbon dioxide mix together and as the engine continues to cool down, the condensed water becomes more apparent to people from the outside. In most cases, you will observe small drops of water flowing from the tailpipe. You should not panic when you see this drip because it will stop when your car becomes warm enough.

3. Catalytic Converter Processing Fumes

Catalytic converter is a part of every car. This part reduces the number of harmful exhaust gases emitted from your vehicle. Therefore, this component ensures the exhaust emissions are not harmful to people and the environment. However, as the catalytic converter processes the fumes, some water vapor is produced, resulting in the formation of water droplets that fall off your car’s tailpipe. These water droplets should stop after a while. If it does not disappear on its own, then your engine or car’s exhaust system could be faulty.

4. Faulty Head Gasket

Up until now, all the reasons listed here should not worry you. However, when the water droplets from your exhaust system result from a blown head gasket, you need to be very concerned. How will you know that your car’s head gasket is blown?

A blown head gasket shows itself as a white smoke coming from the exhaust system’s tailpipe. In addition to this, you will be able to see air bubbles in your car’s coolant reservoir as well as overheating problems. You need to fix a faulty head gasket as soon as possible because it might lead to a lot of problems when the engine overheats.

5. Broken Piston or Rings

When water leaks through your car’s exhaust system because of a broken piston or ring, you need to be very concerned. When smoke comes out of the tailpipe together with the water droplets, you know that the piston and rings are faulty. If the issue is very bad, a burning smell will fill the cabin of your car. There could be an even worse issue in your engine if you smell a sweet aroma coming from your car’s exhaust system. Therefore, when you see water droplets coming from the tailpipe along with unusual smells and smoke, refrain from driving your vehicle. Call a local mechanic to tow the vehicle to their garage and fix the issue. The mechanic should examine the piston for faults and replace them if they are faulty.

Most of the causes of water droplets on your car’s tailpipe result from the effects of water vapor. An overall cold surrounding makes the parts of your car cold. As your heats up, the process of condensation begins, which results in the formation of water droplets.

6. Condensation Of Cold Water

In most cases, water in your car’s exhaust system comes as a result of the process of condensation, especially in cold mornings. Your car’s internal combustion engine makes hydrocarbons that are passed through the catalytic converter, which makes them less harmful. The two main byproducts from the processes within the catalytic converter are water vapor and carbon dioxide. As your engine cools down, the water vapor in your car’s exhaust system cools down to form water. The water is released from the exhaust system as droplets when the engine is warmed. Water formed through this process should not cause alarm.

7. You Don’t Maintain your Car

Most vehicle owners understand that a vehicle must be inspected and serviced from time to time, as referred to as routine maintenance. For those who don’t, the likelihood of problems that cause the exhaust and engine to go bad is extremely high. If the vehicle is not inspected routinely, small problems can escalate to major problems that are much more expensive to fix. This is also true for vehicles which sit for long periods of time.

If you want to avoid engine/exhaust problems or other issues and save $100s of dollars that you’ll spend at the auto repair shop, you’ll need to service your vehicle often – you can use our mechanic-rated Auto Maintenance and Repair Manual to do this. It’s basically what mechanics use to go through your vehicle to check if there are any problems that need fixing. As soon as they notice the most minor problem, they’ll ask you to fork out some money even though it’s a problem you can fix yourself in minutes – the manual will teach you how to maintain your vehicle every few thousand miles and it’ll teach you how to fix minor problems that mechanics will ask you to pay for; saving you money in the long run.

A lot of our readers have the Auto Maintenance and Repair Manual printed on their garage wall and 92% of them haven’t visited the auto repair shop in the last year because they know what to do to avoid problems. All it takes is giving your vehicle a little attention every few thousand miles and you’ll never spend money at the workshop again.

8. Head Gasket Failure

If the head gasket is failing, it can cause white smoke to come out of your exhaust. The head gasket acts as a boundary that stops leaking engine fluids from getting into the cylinders. This makes it a crucial component of the combustion chamber. It also ensures the gas fumes ignited by the spark plug are contained within the combustion chamber.

When antifreeze leaks through the gasket into the gas cylinder where it is burnt to steam during the combustion process, it produces smoke an oil passage leak sipping into the cylinder, causing a bluish smoke after being burnt to steam. This kind of gasket malfunctions will enable combustion pressure to enter the oil breather system or the cooling system. If a radiator hose’s water outlet is blown off or an out of place dipstick, this may be the explanation. If there’s white smoking coming out of the tailpipe, there’s a chance that your head gasket is blown.

9. Coolant Leaking

A coolant leak can cause whitish-looking smoke to come out of your exhaust. The internal combustion engine uses many types of gaskets and seals to keep the liquids, including coolant contained and moving about. Many of those gaskets and seals are used inside the intake manifold and the throttle body. Over time, the seals can wear out, become dry, and start leaking. Combustion gasses coming from the cylinders enter the coolant system and cause bubbles. The head gasket is a special seal that is located between the engine block and cylinders. When this gasket becomes damaged or blows, leaks occur and can come out of the exhaust.

10. Damaged Connecting Pipe

There’s a pipe that connects the beginning of the exhaust to other components of the exhaust also the way through to the end of the car. If the connecting pipe is damaged, then gases won’t be able to emit from your car and as a result, gases that are supposed to be emitted from your car while driving will accumulate inside the exhaust and this can cause the exhaust system to fail. This can cause smoke to leak out of your exhaust.

11. Defective EGR Cooler

If the water coming from the tailpipe smells sweet, it could definitely be caused by a broken EGR cooler if your car is equipped with one. If your car’s fitted with a defective EGR cooler, it can cause white smoke to come out of your car. An EGR cooler is an emission-related device that cools down the exhaust gas before they are returned into the engine to reduce NOx values. Over time, the EGR cooler can crack and this can cause coolant to come out of your exhaust.

12. You’ve Drive Through A Flood

If you’ve been driving your vehicle through a flood, this can cause water to come out of the exhaust. When you drive through a flood, it can cause your engine to turn off abruptly which is why you should never drive through a flood. If you do drive through a flood, water will drain out of the exhaust for a few minutes so if you’re noticing water come out, it’s completely normal.

13. The Weather Is Cold

If the weather is very cold, it can freeze the moisture inside of the exhaust pipe. When you turn your engine on again, the moisture will melt and it’ll leak out of the car’s exhaust. If you notice water coming out of the exhaust after turning your engine on, chances are the water was just frozen when your car was turned off due to very cold weather.

14. Human Causes

If someone has tampered with your exhaust, then depending on what they did, it could cause water to leak out of your exhaust. If you have kids and they like to play around the car, they could be playing with the exhaust and if this play involves squirting water up the pipe, there’s only one way for it to come out and that’s straight back out of your exhaust again.

If your kids like to play around your car, it’s advised that you tell them to keep buckets of water, hoses, or any taps away from your exhaust as it could cause water to come out when you’re driving.

Smoke Coming Out Of Exhaust

White Smoke from your Car’s Exhaust

When fuel/air mixture in the engine ignites, the camshaft is moved by the pistons. However, the pistons wear out over time, and piston rings begin to leak. This causes ineffective ignition of the fuel/air mixture, which allows a little bit of the coolant to flow into your car’s engine. This forces the vehicle’s exhaust system to release water vapor in the form of white smoke. This is not a good sign. You need to call a qualified mechanic to inspect your engine and fix it as soon as possible. The white smoke could also be caused by a blown gasket, a cracked cylinder, or a cracked engine block.

If you see a whitish greenish material coming out of your exhaust, it could be a combination of oil mixed with antifreeze or water. To confirm this, turn off your car engine and open the hood. Then remove the oil filler cap and check underneath. If you notice a whitish/green moisture, then it’s likely coolant or water mixed with oil. You’ll need to take your car to the dealership as soon as you notice this. If the oil has been with coolant or water, it won’t lubricate the engine well enough and this can cause the engine to seize up.

Black Smoke from Your Car’s Exhaust

In some cases, your engine does not completely burn the fuel in its internal combustion engine. When this fuel mixes together with water from your car’s exhaust system, it comes out as a cloud of black smoke. Like the white smoke, you need to call a mechanic to examine your engine because there might be parts of your car engine that do not work well. A lot of fuel is being channeled to the combustion chamber, but it is not burnt completely. This could be caused by dirty air filters or broken spark plugs. Change these parts and observe the color of your exhaust smoke. If it is still black, inspect your vehicle’s fuel injector.

Water Coming Out Of Exhaust When Starting Car

If water comes out of your exhaust when starting your car, water is condensing or melting due to the hot engine. If your vehicle is in a cold climate, each time your engine is on, it’ll be warmed up. Any moisture that has been frozen or ice up will be melted once your engine gets hot enough. This will cause condensed water to come out of the exhaust when you start your car.

Water Coming Out Of Exhaust When Revving

It’s normal for water to come out of the exhaust when you’re revving your car. If you notice water leaking each time you rev, let your engine run for a few minutes before you start driving again. It could just be condensed water leaking out after you haven’t driven the car for a while. However, if this carries on for too long, even after revving and heating your engine for a while, then you’ll need to take your car to the dealership to get it checked out.

Water Coming Out Of Exhaust While Idling

If there’s water coming out of your exhaust while idling, then this is normal and it can just be condensed water leaking out of the exhaust. If you notice that the exhaust is leaking water once you start driving after idling, this can happen due to a head gasket leak.

If the head gasket is failing, it can cause white smoke to come out of your exhaust. The head gasket acts as a boundary that stops leaking engine fluids from getting into the cylinders. This makes it a crucial component of the combustion chamber. It also ensures the gas fumes ignited by the spark plug are contained within the combustion chamber.

Water Coming Out Of Exhaust While Driving

If water is coming out of your exhaust while you’re driving, you could’ve just driven through a flood, or water may be condensing that was frozen from when your car’s engine was off. When you drive through a flood, water goes into the exhaust system and it can continue to come out while you’re driving. If you notice that the water is leaking out for a long period of time while driving and it’s not condensed water or you haven’t driven through a flood, the head gasket could be broken and you’ll need to get it repaired right away.

Oily Water Coming Out Of Exhaust

If there’s oily water coming out of the exhaust, then it could be due to an oil leak coming out of your exhaust pipe. An oil leak out of your exhaust pipe is a sign that there’s a problem with the internal components of the engine. A broken head gasket or broken piston rings could also cause oil to leak from the exhaust. If you notice this, your car needs to be looked at professionally as there’s a good chance something is wrong with your engine.

How to Fix Water Coming Out of Exhaust

The process of fixing an exhaust pipe that drips water, you have to start by examining the engine and your car’s exhaust system for problems. The exhaust system begins from the catalytic converter that removes harmful hydrocarbons from the exhaust fumes. It converts these carbons to water and carbon dioxide.

The muffler is connected through the catalytic converter through an elaborate chain of pipes. The tailpipe releases exhaust fumes into the atmosphere. As you examine the exhaust system for causes of a dripping tailpipe, do not touch any part of the exhaust pipe when it is still hot because it might lead to serious burns.

As you inspect the exhaust pipe, search for loose connections and rusted areas. In addition to this, you can also tell pipes that leak based on the noise that the exhaust system produces. Follow every component of the pipe until you get to your car’s engine. If the system is fine, then you need to examine your car’s engine cooling system. Look at the color of smoke coming from your exhaust pipe to decide on the solution that you use to resolve the issue.

Inspect Your Car’s Intake Gasket

Your car produces a lot of white fumes because the coolant leaks into the combustion chamber. The gasket seals off the manifold. However, if it is broken, it could leak the coolant into your engine. To examine the intake gasket, you need to remove the manifold. Check the gasket for leaks and cracks. Fix anything that seems unusual. It would also help if you checked for rust. If the intake gasket is in outstanding shape, you should check the engine’s head gasket.

Examine Your Vehicle’s Head Gasket

Your car’s head gasket serves as a seal between the cylinder and your engine block. It tops the coolant from flowing into your engine. If your vehicle’s head gasket is leaking due to cracks, the coolant will flow to your engine’s combustion chambers, thus causing the exhaust system to release white smoke. You need to replace the head gasket once you notice the cracks.

Examine the Engine’s Cylinder Head

Most cylinder heads are made of aluminum. When your vehicle’s engine overheats, the aluminum block might develop cracks. In extreme conditions, it might break, causing the coolant to leak into your engine. Fix the cylinder head and make sure that it seals the engine block and head gasket properly.

It is neither unusual to see water dripping from your exhaust tailpipe nor alarming to see white smoke coming from your vehicle’s exhaust in a cold morning. This smoke is produced by the condensation process of water vapor in your exhaust’s catalytic converter.

Your vehicle’s engine cools down overnight, and water condenses in the car’s exhaust system. As you warm the engine, the water is turned to vapor, which causes the removal of white smoke in your car’s exhaust system. If this white smoke is excess and comes out with a sweet aroma, you need to be concerned.

Check your engine’s head gasket for cracks. You should also inspect piston rings and cylinder heads for problems. Because if any of these components is faulty, it will cause the coolant to leak into your engine’s combustion chamber resulting in white smoke. If you do not correct this problem quickly, it might cause further damage to your vehicle’s engine, such as corrosion. It will also increase your fuel costs.

A cloud of black smoke indicates a fuel that is not completely ignited in your engine’s combustion chamber.

You should call a mechanic to fix all these issues. However, before you do it, you have to qualify the white smoke as a cause for alarm to ensure you do not mistake normal white smoke with exhaust smoke that indicates a faulty exhaust system.

Normal water from your exhaust system should dry up in a few minutes. If it does not, stop the vehicle and call a mechanic.

Cost To Fix Water Coming Out Of Exhaust 

But if it’s down to a blown head gasket, it could cost between $1,000 and $2,000 mainly due to the sheer amount of labor and not the cost of the parts themselves. Additionally, if it’s down to damaged pistons and rings, the cost to repair is between $1,000 and $5,000, and again, this is down to the sheer amount of labor it takes for the repair and not the part itself.