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When the car was warming up in the cold this morning, I noticed steam coming through the vents.

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Jessica Howe, Automotive Expert & Coach at


Thank you for writing in. The steam you are seeing may simply be caused by a temperature difference between the warm engine and the cold wet components around it and in the ventilation. There is a strong chance that nothing is wrong and what you experienced was simply a matter of circumstance. If the steam or smoke smelled strongly of a burning fluid, then there may be cause for concern. If that is the case you will want to check your fluid levels and make sure none of them are dropping, indicating that there is a leak in that system. If it happens again, or starts to happen more frequently, you may want to seek help from a technician near you for a proper inspection.

Good luck!


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