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Puff Of Blue Smoke at Start-up

08-12-2004, 02:03 PM
Hi Folks,
This is a 96 Camry, straight 4 cyl, 110,000 miles, oil changed every 3,000 miles, well maintained.
1. I get a puff of blue smoke when starting this car, about once every 1 to 2 weeks. This typically, but not always, happens after the car has not been used for several days or more. There are times when it happens after the car sits over one night.
2. It seems that after rain or damp weather conditions, the power steering seems to fail intermittently. For example, when turning to pull into a parking spot, the wheel will stiffen up to where I can't turn it, then relase for a short additional turn, then stiffen.

I welcome ideas of the cause and what can be done to correct these conditions.
Thank you.

Brian R.
08-12-2004, 02:49 PM
The smoke is probably a sign that your valve seals are wearing. You will need to replace them evenutally, but a little smoke once in a while is harmless.

The powersteering problem could either be low fluid or a loose/slipping drive belt. Check these. It is most likely the drive belt and the rain is making the belt or pully slippery. The slippage is what is causing the loss of power assist. If the belt is loose, tighten it. If it is not loose, put some belt dressing on it and clean the pully if there is any grease on it. If the belt is old, just replace it.

08-12-2004, 06:56 PM
Thank you.
I'm trying to decide whether to keep the car or replace it. It also needs, according to the dealer, front strut mounts replaced, ($700-$800 to replace struts and mounts); it's time for breaks, cam belts, major tune-up. My cousin has the last Camry station wagon made, I think it's a '95, and he has around 220,000 miles, and it runs like a top.

Any thoughts?

Brian R.
08-12-2004, 07:35 PM
You shouldn't need a timing belt until 180k - change every 90K. Fix the power steering and brakes. Get a second opinion on everything else. Major tune-up is unnecessary unless plugs with/without plug wires doesn't make it run fine. There is nothing to gain by anticipating poor performance. Wait until it happens to fix it. It doesn't hurt anything.

Keep the car.

08-13-2004, 07:49 AM
My 94 Camry also puffs smoke on start-up but not all the time... Has 156,000 miles on it... I suspect that a fuel injector is leaking down causing this condition... Any comments on this idea...Bob

Brian R.
08-13-2004, 08:47 AM
I would replace any suspected bad injector or clean them all if you can find a wet cylinder after the car has sat a while. A puff of smoke is more likely to be an injector. Maybe stevescar has the same problem. I didn't read his discription carefully enough.

Your guess as to the cause is reasonable. Valve seals smoke for a short time after start-up until the head is warmed up somewhat. Not just a puff.

However, it is hard to picture why an injector would leak after sitting only sometimes. There's alot of fuel in the rail.

Valve seals also. There may be something else going on here, but a once in a while puff of smoke is not worth worrying about unless it keeps smoking when the engine is hot. Again, I would replace a bad injector or just clean the bunch. Might solve the problem.

Daniel M. Dreifus
08-13-2004, 10:04 AM
Not uncommon for valve seals to leak slightly causing intermittent oil burning with cold start.
Seems this is a weak point in an otherwise excellent overhead cam head design.
Possible minor side effects: not healthy for oxygen sensor, catalytic converter, EGR passageways.
Lucas heavy duty oil stablizer has solved this problem for me.
Can be mixed with conventional or synthetic oil.
No more smoke on cold start up for apx. 30,000 miles now. Available at Pep Boys (just don't buy any automotive parts from them.)

08-13-2004, 11:37 AM
Hav'nt tried the Lucas for the oil... I used Amsoil PI for the gas to clean the injectors & the smoking seems lees than before... Guess I will treat it again... Bob

Brian R.
08-13-2004, 12:05 PM
I have found valve seal problems to be pretty predictable and every cold start.

I wouldn't use anything in the oil to affect this problem. It is not serious enough to risk other problems that may result from a change in your oil properties.

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