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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Camry v6, 165,000 miles, I am a totally stupid NOOB mechanic:

When I start my car, for maybe 5 seconds I observe bothersome white smoke.

I think this is bad. :wink:

When I brought my car in for an unrelated fix to the local guy highly recommended by Yelp, he told me, "You gotta do a valve cover gasket change".

He also wanted to fix my starter for $450, but u guys pointed me to some parts and a step-by-step photo fix tutorial, and I fixed it for $12. :x

What do I do to rectify the startup white smoke thing..? Just the valve cover gasket change? Other stuff? What caution must I show until I do what you recommend..?

I am supah PO right now, so I can't pay the local megabuck guy to do it, I suspect he will rape me.... :surprise:

I can pay maybe $150 for parts and whatever.
 

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Hmmm... this could be one of many things. Some cheap and easy, some not so. At 165K+ something, I would think maybe a plugged EGR valve, keeping too much oil up in the top of the cylinder head. But it could run the gambit from worn valve guide seals to a blown head gasket. White smoke? are you sure, what does it smell like? Oil smells... oily, coolant smells... like nothing or sweet. I'll leave it to other guys to give you testing ideas. It depends on whether the car has been well maintained with oil changes and the coolant system has been working properly and maintained.

It could be as simple as changing the oil, to some good stuff, or a heavier grade. Everything is wide open, until you tell us all a bit more about the cars history.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
More about the car:

1. OIL - I have done frequent oil changes for the past 15,000 miles or so, but I was spotty about that for the 20k prior to that. For that time I was not one of those (rare?) exact "3,000 miles and oil change or die" type of guys.

2. COOLING - I have done several cooling system flushes, idle + full a/c, garden hose at good rate in top + radiator bottom draining. Going like that for like 15 minutes. Twice, interspaced by about 15k or so, those two times. My car has never run hot, so the cooling system is probably really good. I got pretty fussy about it cuz my previous car died owing to cooling system probs.

2. EGR VALVE - By some coincidence I replaced that just 1,000 miles ago. When I pried the old one out, the brittle bottom portion dropped into the freaking engine, nearly giving my a heart attack. I felt sure when I started it the engine might seize (?) but happily it seemed like nothing was wrong..? I did the replacement after I saw the startup smoke thing start showing up, alas this replacement has not cleared things up.

I have the parts for the valve cover gasket replacement - Kit with the gaskets, but then the plenum gasket, too, the O2 sensor, and a couple other ones. Also the oil pan gasket, I might do that tomorrow.

MORE MORE:

I forgot to mention that in the past 1,000 miles the RATE OF OIL CONSUMPTION has increased 10x.

If I go 300 highway miles I will have to add 5 quarts of oil.

This is SUPER unusual for my car, and those two events (1. White smoke on startup + 2. Much higher oil consumption) surfaced at the SAME TIME.
 

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as SR sez, it all depends on the color....are you 100% sure it's white and not grey or black? white is coolant burning, i.e. head gasket. blue/grey is oil burning and black is gas not burning. we can explain better what to do once we know what color the smoke is.
i'm pretty sure it's gonna be grey/light blue and if so, as above, it's valve seals. don't know why the mech said vc gasket unless it's leaking a bunch, but don't see how that's cause the smoke unless it's dripping onto the exhaust manifold or something.
do some investigating and get back to us.
tony
 

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Here are a few thoughts. Hopefully a more qualified member will chime in.

White smoke usually indicates water vapor. That would lean toward coolant leaking into a cylinder from a breached head gasket. Valve cover gaskets would not fix that. Worse case.

BUT... Is it white smoke or light grey? Worn valve guides leak oil into the cylinders and will give you a puff of smoke on start up. It may be anywhere from light grey to dark grey. It is an involved fix and beyond what I would attempt as a shade tree parts changer. I have driven many scores of thousands of miles on worn valve guides and just lived with the puff on start up.

Man...Some folks did jump in right before me...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Forgot this:

I forgot to mention that in the past 1,000 miles the RATE OF OIL CONSUMPTION has increased 10 times, SUPER conspicuous change..!

If I go 300 highway miles I will have to add 5 quarts of oil. Holy cr*p..!! :O

This is SUPER unusual for my car, and those two events (1. White smoke on startup + 2. Much higher oil consumption) surfaced at the SAME TIME.
 

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if you're losing that much oil, you probably ain't burning it or you'd be smoking like you ran seafoam through it to clean out the intake. maybe you do need that vc gasket after all. did you ever clean the engine and try to find where/how much it's leaking? that's a major oil consumption problem alright. i'd be checking for compression to see if the head gasket is good and if the ring's are shot also unless there's something else you forgot to mention.
tony
 

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More about the car:


I forgot to mention that in the past 1,000 miles the RATE OF OIL CONSUMPTION has increased 10x.

If I go 300 highway miles I will have to add 5 quarts of oil.

This is SUPER unusual for my car, and those two events (1. White smoke on startup + 2. Much higher oil consumption) surfaced at the SAME TIME.
Wow. Something has let go. That oil has to be coming out somewhere. If its not on the engine it went out the tail pipe. It should be oily either at the front or the rear. If its the rear it could be smokey all the time or there will be an oily residue in the tail pipe. Also, your cat won't be long for this world as it will clog up shortly.
 

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Crumms! unless something really weird is going on, you are going to have to look pretty deep. The start-up fluff is a thing that was pretty minor, and the engine could go another 50K miles with no issues. But 5 quarts in 300 miles would mean that you have a puddle under the car at every stop, if it is a leak. This sounds more like broken piston rings or something. It should be smoking like Cheech and Chong with with the Best stuff ever!

Are you sure you put the EGR valve in the right way? If you put it in backwards the crank case would not vent, the pressure would blow oil back up into the intake system, and also not allow oil to drain properly down the cylinder head passages. Just grasping for straws here!:surprise:
 
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