Car engine smoking on engine surface after repair--normal?
October 21, 2014 5:07 PM   Subscribe

I had some work done on my car today. It's a 1994 Nissan Altima. I had a belt and pulley replaced, the engine gasket replaced, and the plugs and wires replaced. The oil was changed as well. Oil had leaked through the gasket and gotten on the engine, which they cleaned off. I drove 10 miles with no problems.

When I stopped, I popped the hood to take a look and see the work that had been done. I noticed the front of the engine was smoking, though not incredibly strongly. Is this just oil/cleaner burning off the surface of the engine, or is it likely to be something else? I tried calling my mechanic but they were closed.
posted by Slinga to Travel & Transportation (4 answers total)
That happens to me every time I change the oil: I spill a little, wipe it up, and end up spreading a thin layer on more of the engine or manifold. If they were also working on pulleys and serpentine belts, they assuredly wiped up and spread a little more.

It'll smoke for a while then stop.

Check for spills and drips after you park it overnight, but otherwise I wouldn't worry.
posted by Kakkerlak at 5:16 PM on October 21, 2014 [8 favorites]

Seconding check when cold for new drips/spills. Should burn off eventually. If it doesn't look into it more.
posted by TheAdamist at 6:19 PM on October 21, 2014

We just had an "oil leak" but it turned out the mechanics didn't tighten the oil filter, so if you're really unsure, check that. It was an odd thing where our tires were bad but the guys inspecting our car had done the oil change and thought there was some weird oil leak, but when we got it to the dealer, they found out that the oil filter hadn't been tightened. YMMV, of course.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:02 PM on October 21, 2014

My 1994 Mazda Protege does the same thing every time I get the oil changed. Just a bit of leftover burning off. And it had oil leaking from around the valve cover gasket for years. Not enough to ever make the car low, but enough to get the engine dirty and smelly. If your car has an aluminum valve cover, the heat can warp it just enough that the stock gasket isn't going to be enough to seal it. My mechanic uses some kind of silicone goo to make up for the warping.

If you do think you have a signifigant oil leak, they can add something to the oil that shows under UV (I think) so that they can track down where it is coming from.

And since there was oil leakage for an unknown time it may have gotten a bit into the combustion and exhaust, so don't be surprised if your catalytic converter needs changing soon.
posted by monopas at 10:12 AM on October 22, 2014

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