Water Coming Out Of Exhaust: Why & What To Do?

Water coming out of exhaust is not a rare phenomenon that drivers encounter while driving. Does this signal a problem with your car? The exhaust system is responsible for conducting and treating exhaust gas, removing harmful substances before being released into the environment, and limiting noise caused by cars during operation. Understanding the importance of this system makes many drivers worried when they notice the water leak from exhaust. If you did experience this phenomenon, Follow us below!

Why Is Water Coming Out Of Exhaust While Running?

To understand why there is water in the exhaust pipe of your car. We first need to know some basic knowledge about the exhaust gas composition of a car, including:

  • CO (Carbon Monoxide): When starting the engine because of a lack of oxygen, the combustion reaction occurs incompletely, so a part of the gas cannot be converted into CO2. That gas is CO.
  • HC (Hydrogen Carbon does not burn out): This is a part of gasoline caused by a lack of oxygen or inefficient ignition.
  • CO2 (Carbon Dioxide): It is the end product of gasoline combustion. It is a combination of the initial air in the combustion reaction with gasoline.
  • H2O: As water, as well as CO2, this is also a product of the oxidation of gasoline, when it comes out it will be in the form of water vapor.

When looking at the listed components, you can see H2O, i.e. water present in the final gas product. Next, as the gases pass through the exhaust system, they meet the exhaust treatment unit. Here the water will be condensed and other substances will be partially absorbed and pushed out. It completely explains why there is water dripping in the exhaust pipe of a car when the car is moving. This is the main cause of the water leak from exhaust. Besides, there is another reason you may go through:

>> Read more: How To Make Flames Come Out Of Your Exhaust

water coming out of exhaust while running
Water coming out of exhaust while running? Let’s find the reasons (Photo: cartreatments.com)

Water condensation

When you start your car’s engine, combustion occurs because a mixture of air and fuel is ignited with water and carbon dioxide as a by-product of this reaction. As the engine cools down, the exhaust gas exit the car’s combustion chamber, so you see condensation coming out of the tailpipe. If this is the reason water in exhaust pipe, that’s completely normal and nothing to worry about. This type of leak usually occurs in the morning. But it can happen at any time of the day if you start the car after a few hours of resting. The engine must have cooled down and may have produced condensation from the combustion reaction.

Condensation when engine heat

The motor becomes quite hot. The normal temperature when your car operates in an internal combustion engine is between 195°F and 220°F and can reach around 250°F. Now, most of this heat is generated during starting. engine start-up and ignition. When you start the engine, it will heat up and this is an inevitable thing.

If this is the reason for your problem, you will notice water dripping out of your exhaust only when you start the engine. The steam in the exhaust pipe will turn into water due to the heat generated and will decrease by itself as you drive a few miles. However, if the water continues to leak after several kilometers, you need to worry about it and have it checked by a professional.

Catalytic converter

A catalytic converter is considered a silent “bodyguard” to help keep the environment green – cleaner. When operating the engine, it will emit a series of harmful emissions to the environment (CO2, H2O, N2). To reduce these pollutants, the researchers created a catalytic converter that converts harmful emissions into other forms of waste that have less impact on the environment or substances that are not harmful (H20) before coming out the tailpipe. During the conversion process, it creates water vapor that sits in the exhaust pipe, and as your motor runs. It will push water out of the exhaust. This is a normal process and is indeed a sign that your catalytic converter is working properly.

Broken piston

If your case is one of the 3 reasons we have just described above, then you do not need to be too worried because your car is still operating properly. However, a faulty piston is an abnormal sign to tell that your car or the engine has a problem. Damaged pistons affect the operation of cylinders and combustion chambers. Drivers need to find the cause to overcome to avoid reducing engine power. And the obvious symptom when the piston is going bad is that you will detect water coming out of exhaust pipe.

At this time, you see that the water will have a burning oil smell and the smoke comes in dark or blue colors especially if it looks very thick and you will smell the strange odor. The engine oil will start to leak into the combustion chamber when piston rings lose their function. As a consequence, the oil will ignite and produce the dense blue-gray exhaust smoke you see.

Faulty head gasket

A faulty head gasket is an alarm bell that your car has a serious issue. A bad head gasket can quickly cause show-stopping damage to your vehicle if you don’t have a timely method. The key responsibility of this part is to prevent coolant from leaking anywhere else. As we know, water is one of the main components of coolant. And when coolant is ignited in the engine, steam with water escapes from the exhaust as visible white smoke. This is a sign that the engine is losing coolant due to a leaky head gasket. 

In addition, water coming from the exhaust pipe can originate from the cold weather. If the outside temperature is too cold, this will solidify the moisture content inside the exhaust. When you start the engine, this moisture turns into liquid and leaks through the car’s exhaust.

Defective water pump

water leak from exhaust
A faulty water pump can be one of the reasons make water leak from exhaust (Photo: istockphoto.com)

The last but significant reason the water drips out of the exhaust pipe is the faulty pump in your engine. The whole purpose of the water pump is to circulate coolant throughout the coolant system. You will notice a leak coming from the weep hose when the seals inside the water pump start to fail. As a consequence, coolant will pass them and go out to the hose, and the water you notice at that time will be engine coolant. Coolant comes in green, orange, or red. Orange coolant may have rust in it.

>> Related post: How Does a Leak Detection Pump (LDP) Work in a Car?

Water Coming Out Of Exhaust: Should I Need To Worry?

Once you have understood the cause of the phenomenon, you can see that it is completely normal for water to drip from the exhaust pipe. Except for some abnormal causes of the catalytic converter, piston, and head gasket as we analyzed the first part. 

Many people with experience in driving said that the fact that water in the tailpipe also shows that your engine is working quite well and there is nothing to worry about. When the exhaust has water, which proves that the component of the car contains less coal dust and heavy gas. This makes it easier for the water to drain, it also proves that the car’s steam system is tight and there are no problems with combustion (good air-to-air ratio). 

However, you should not be subjective but have to take your car in for regular maintenance on a regular basis to ensure that your car is always in the best condition.

How To Fix When You Detect Water Drippings?

Water dripping out of the tailpipe sometimes is just a normal situation but it can be potentially many dangerous factors. The important step to help you get suitable methods to fix this problem is to identify the condition of the water when coming out from the pipe. 

When the emission is cold water vapor in the exhaust (a common byproduct of combustion) and doesn’t have any strange smell. It can condense before escaping and the water will drip. If your car is in this situation. We can affirm that the car is in good condition and the water will stop leakage when the exhaust system is hot enough that the steam will no longer condense. All you need to do is drive your car for 15 minutes or more to heat up the exhaust pipe until there’s no condensation in the tailpipe – unless you live somewhere pretty cold.

In contrast, if you notice the water leakage doesn’t have the signal to stop while driving and comes with a burning smell or dark-gray smoke. It means that your car is not in ideal condition. At that time, the water dripping out from the pipe can be the engine coolant. Asking for a consultation or taking your car to the mechanic is a vital thing if the water leaks due to a defective piston, converter, or head gasket…

In Conclusion: Water Coming Out Of Exhaust

Why does water come out of my exhaust? Seeing H2O from your tailpipe can be a sign of condensation. You will not be panicked or worried in these scenarios if it’s pure water (does not have a smell or other colors). Many drivers find it a good sign because it means that your engine cools down properly. But this will be a big concern when this issue is a signal to tell you that one of the parts in your car needs to be fixed or replaced. In this topic, we had a round-up of the most common reasons why you see water dripping out of the pipe. And some simple tips to handle this. Hopefully, this information will be useful for motorists. See you soon in the next blog