'86 Voyager Won't Quit Smoking

courtesy of Bob, The Auto Answer Man

Dear Bob,
I have a 1986 Plymouth Voyager. It runs well and I love it for it's huge capacity (if not it's gas mileage). The problem is, it really smells awful on start up and smokes in the winter until it warms up. It passes the smog check in California very well, but I worry that it is polluting too much. I really don't want to replace it, but would be interested in your recommendations as an emissions expert.

I recently found out (thanx Mr. FOWENS) that Chryslers have a problem with their valve guides. This can cause your smoking problem.... You know, if people can quit smoking, why can't cars? hee hee.. Anyways, your smoking problem could be one of several things... What color is the smoke? Bluish, black, white? I while back I wrote a column describing what the various colors mean. White is okay... that is water vapor, unless it smells like anti freeze. Then you have a blown head gasket! Black is poor combustion due to a bad tune up or something like that. Blue is oil. This is either coming from the valves or the rings. Either way, this is a tough one to fix... No matter what you do, it's gonna cost you. Now, you mention that it stops when it warms up.... Well, this only eliminates the possibility of a blown head gasket. The anti-freeze will leak all the time. The black, well after the car warms up and comes off choke, it will clean up. But this helps. We now know that it could be something in the cold start circuit (choke) that is causing to much fuel to enter the engine. As for the oil, we still do not have enough information. One thing you can do, is go for a drive and have someone follow you. Look at the color of the smoke when you accelerate.
Let me know what you find out!
Good Luck!
Drive Safely!
Bob, The Auto Answer Man

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