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  1. #1
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    Question Suspected leaking injector, thick lingering intermittent white smoke, HELP!

    Hello, and thanks in advance. I've got a thick cloud of lingering white/gray smoke coming out of my exhaust. Does not smell like oil, am not losing coolant. Smells to me like car running very VERY rich. Puff of smoke comes out thicker for a moment right after I let up on the accelerator. Shortly after parking the car I lose pressure in the fuel rail. I was thinking leaking fuel injector. When I removed the fuel rail and turned the key to the accessory position there was no leaky injector. I decided to check the fuel pressure again with the car in the accessory position, and NOTHING. No fuel pressure. Is it possible that the fuel pump charges the system and then stops and resumes charging the system upon cranking/running? The car runs great. It does run a bit rough during the first 5 seconds of running if I try and go anywhere, but it idles fine from the beginning, and as long as I wait just a few moments before I go anywhere she runs great. If it's stop and go traffic it's a military smoke grenade going off behind me. As long as I am moving it's just a puff of smoke every now and again. Car has 140,000 miles on her. This weekend I am going to compression check the engine, try and locate the fuel return check valve, monitor the fuel system pressure, and try re-torquing the head bolts. Since I feel like I couldn't accurately test the fuel injectors (as the fuel rail had no pressure) I want to try and find a way of checking those but I don't know how to do that if there's no pressure in the line unless I'm cranking. Anyone know of a good way to check for a leaking fuel injector? Anyone know of any OTHER way excessive fuel can find its way in the exhaust? (I checked the fuel regulator vacuum line) Can anyone think of anything else that can cause thick white smoke that isn't oil or water? Any advice with what to do would be most appreciated. Thanks for reading!

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  2. #2
    Bruno
    Saab Addict swisssaabist's Avatar
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    Turbo ? maybe ? ok normally smells burning oil but white smoke come from the catalyser
    when you start at cold the smoke smells nothing or petrol ?

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    Last edited by swisssaabist; 10 March 2017 at 14:09.

  3. #3
    Saab Enthusiast
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    1997 NG 900 SE
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    White smoke = coolant. Gray smoke = oil. Black smoke = rich mixture.

    To check for coolant loss, remove spark plugs and see if one or more plugs looks clean, and inspect inside of cylinders with flashlight for a shiny piston top. Also, check oil dipstick for "milkshake appearance", indicating coolant in oil.

    Gray or white/gray smoke that lingers means oil loss, which for Saabs means turbo seals. Check plugs again for signs of oily or sooty deposits. If valve seals are leaking, smoking tends to go away after car warms up.

    Black smoke means over rich mixture. Usually the FPR diaphragm has busted, or the MAF is done. But since you didn't notice any gas in the FPR vacuum hose, it's probably fine. You are correct that the fuel pump is on briefly when the key is on but not cranking. This is normal. It primes the system before cranking to compensate for pressure leak down, and turns on again while the car is actively cranking. If it is not holding pressure when sitting for extended periods, it is most likely the fuel feed check valve, the white one on the fuel pump. The way to tell is once the system is primed, depress the schrader valve on the fuel rail, and if fuel spurts out, there is enough pressure to start the car. This usually manifests itself in extended cold cranking. The spark plugs on over-rich conditions will be black and sooty.

    From your description, I would think blown turbo seals. Going through the above check list should narrow it down. The plugs will tell you much.

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  4. #4
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    Thanks for the really good information southsaab. No soot color on plugs, all have slight off white hazy texture, so valve seals probably good. Smoke is not black so I guess I'm not running too rich. What gets me is that I AM losing oil, but I don't really smell burning oil. I'm not sure I have ever had a car that burned oil that uses synthetic though...is there a difference in smell between synthetic and organic? Obviously it's going somewhere and it's not leaking, so blown turbo seals sounds like the culprit. Also, yes, the dreaded mayonnaise is showing up on the dipstick. I did a re-torque of the head bolts last night and the smoking seems to have gone down considerably. As in no more military smoke grenade going off behind me. I'm wondering if the remaining smoke may be burning oil. I will change the oil and check for more water in oil.

    I heard that head gasket is not always the cause of water in oil on these cars however, that the PCV system can get a gunked up canister and end up sucking water in to the valve cover. Is this true? Also, isn't there a water line going to the turbo? Sorry for all the questions, I've been reading too much about saabs this past week and my head is swimming.

    Thanks again!

    -Monte

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  5. #5
    Saab Enthusiast
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    When you re-torqued the head and the smoking went away, and you have milkshake oil, that points to head gasket. I'm not familiar with the PCV causing coolant consumption, just over pressurizing the crankcase causing excess oil consumption. Check to see if your car has the PCV upgrade. Check the intake manifold for oil by removing the cobra pipe from the throttle body, opening the butterfly valve, and see if it's oily. If it is, clean it out as best you can and change the oil. It's normal to have some oil consumption from the turbo seals. Could be the residual smoke is un-burnt coolant in the exhaust system.

    Before you do the head gasket, recheck the torque again on the bolts. Your MY is prone to have loose head bolts. Some owners just replace the old bolts with new ones due to the old ones can't hold torque anymore. They do stretch.

    Yes, there is a coolant line that goes to the turbo, but I'm not aware that it leaks over into the turbo air passages.

    Once you get it in running condition, take it out for a good drive. Check it out again, and hopefully, the issues won't be critical.

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  6. #6
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    I don't think the remaining smoke is residual smoke for two reasons. (1) After torquing I drove it for about 30 minutes, I don't see how any moisture could survive in an exhaust environment for that long and (2) I have put a total of 5 hours running time on my saab since I changed the oil and my check oil light just came on. I think that means I'm about 2 quarts low. That's a LOT of oil to be losing in just one week. I do have the 6th generation PCV system installed, but I did not install it. My friend did, and mind you, this person is not a mechanic. When I got the car not ONE vacuum line was connected to the right place, not to mention the front top banjo bolt was loose. I will take off the cobra pipe and check for oil behind the butterfly. If it's oily what does that tell me? Also, I started the saab this morning just to move it and zero smoke came out of the exhaust. Granted, it never got warm, I was just moving it so I could get my benz out, but I feel like the head gasket is properly seated now and all I have to do at present is figure out where all of this oil is going. That being said, I heard there is a sensor kind of near the catalytic converter that will leak oil sometimes, and does so while the car is running so it drips on top of a hot exhaust so you wont see a puddle of oil on the ground. Have you heard of this? I'm still leaning towards bad turbo seals though. Car has 142,000 miles on her.

    Thank you so much for your insight southsaab, it is most valuable. Too bad you are clear across the country!

    -Monte

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  7. #7
    Saab Enthusiast
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    If your oil light is coming on due to low oil pressure after only driving 5 hours, either you are blowing oil past some seals, or sludge is blocking oil flow, common to that MY.

    For the seals, the most common areas are the oil pressure sensor, the front crank seal, and the oil pump oil ring, which holds the crank seal. That's easy to check. First, look under the car, and see if the oil sump is wet and drippy. If so, jack the car up, remove the right front wheel, remove the inner fender cover to expose the crank pulley. If you see an oily mess, then the seals are leaking. While you are there, look further up the timing cover, and see if oil is coming from higher up. If so, move the inspection to the timing chain tensioner just above the intake manifold. If oily, that could be part of it. It has a gasket and o-ring. While you are in the area, check the oil dipstick tube, especially where it meets the case. See if it is very oily.

    Now for the oil pressure sensor. It is difficult to get to as well as to see. It's located a little above the starter on the backside crankcase. It will drip oil on the crankcase, making a mess on either the sump from the back, or it is really bad, dripping on the cat. It's a PITA to change, requiring the removal of the starter to get access, and a special socket for removal. To check it visually, look very carefully between the gap on the intake manifold tubes and the starter, and when you see a black rubber cap with wires, there it is. You may have to move some wires around to see. If it's oily on the cap, it's leaking.

    Now check your oil level, and if it's NOT low, you have sludge issues, either involving the pick-up screen in the sump, or a sticky pressure relief valve, which is around the oil pump cover, but not under it. Crank pulley would have to come off to get access, as it would to put new seals on.

    Usually a bad turbo leaking that much oil smokes like crazy, and most likely to do it on acceleration. Another way to check was why I told you to check the throttle body behind the butterfly. Oil passing by the turbo seals will pool there, though it's common to find a little oil there. And oil burning will show on plugs sometimes as whitish deposits, but you would have to refer to a reading chart, as this is subjective to the car make and plug.

    If there are leaks, but not enough to cause that much usage, no smoke, oil level actually dropping, it's time to check out the PCV system to see if the crankcase is over pressurizing while it's running. I'm not familiar with the procedure for checking that; but that is well documented, and can be found if not on this site, on others.

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  8. #8
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    All 4 platinum plugs do have whitish deposits. Yes I am still blowing smoke, seems like when I first start accelerating but I only drove it for 30 minutes after I re torqued the head bolts. What bothers me though, I have not seen any oil puddles under my car, which tells me that it's either burning in the combustion chamber or on top of the exhaust. In my experience burning this much oil in the combustion chamber will foul an o2 sensor quite quickly. My o2 sensors seem good. Now, I have no idea what the o2 signal thresholds are in the saab that would make the ECM throw a code...they COULD be bad, just not so bad the car throws a code.

    I will check for oil past the cobra pipe tonight and post my results. Thanks again!

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  9. #9
    Bruno
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    in addition with color of smoke i would like to say : when you have heavy white smoke at start and blue greyish when you drive it's turbo issue.

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  10. #10
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    Well, I just got home from work, it's dark, and I have no garage. I will check my cobra pipe tomorrow afternoon.

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