Water Coming Out of Exhaust – Common Causes and Solutions

Water coming out of exhaust can be due to a faulty converter or clogged exhaust. If not fixed promptly, it could lead to engine problems.

Water Coming Out of Exhaust

Read on to learn more about the causes of this problem and how to fix the issue without panicking.

What Causes Water To Come Out of Your Exhaust?

The causes of water coming out of the exhaust include a poorly cooled engine, condensation inside the engine, and a faulty converter. Other causes are head gasket failure, clogged exhaust, and EGR cooler problems. A defective pump and piston can also cause water to seep from the exhaust.

Poorly Cooled Engine

Heated engines often cause water drips from the exhaust. It’s normal for the car engine to become heated, especially when you start it. Although the car requires engine heat to function correctly, the heat shouldn’t be in excess. Hence, coolant works via the radiator to cool off the engine from time to time.

However, sometimes, the heat accumulates to a point where it has to be released through the car’s exhaust. The heat leads to condensation and will leave the exhaust dripping water. Thus, if water is coming out from your vehicle, it could mean that you have a poorly cooled engine.

Condensation Inside the Engine

Water condensation inside the engine is one of the common causes of water coming out from the exhaust pipes. However, there is no cause for alarm if this is why water is coming out from your car exhaust. You shouldn’t panic because it’s a normal occurrence.

Faulty Exhaust in Car

Water and carbon dioxide usually mix once you kickstart the vehicle’s engine. After driving the vehicle for some time and parking it, the engine is expected to cool down. During this process, water vapor condenses or cools into water and starts to drip from the car’s exhaust.

Faulty Catalytic Converter

The catalytic converter is fitted into the front part of the vehicle’s exhaust system, close to the engine. It is designed to lessen emission of gaseous pollutants and debris, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, or hydrocarbons. The converter works as the silent bodyguard that keeps our environment clean.

The converter converts harmful emissions into other waste products with reduced environmental impact. However, water vapor is created during its operations, and it sits on the exhaust manifold as the engine is working. At some point, the water will be pushed out of the exhaust.

Damaged Head Gasket

A damaged gasket often causes water to drip from the exhaust. One of the functions of the gasket in an engine is to keep the coolant or oil from leaking anywhere else, thereby preventing the engine from overheating and catching fire. Gaskets often become damaged due to extreme wear or engine aging. Also, if the engine is not properly cooled, overheating will occur, and this can cause the gasket to blow.

Once you have a blown head gasket, leakage will occur. As the engine gets warm, the head gasket will expand and distort, causing them to separate from their respective seals. When this happens, white smoke will come out from the middle of the exhaust. The white smoke is produced when the coolant is ignited in the engine, and steam with water escapes.

Clogged Exhaust

If the exhaust system is clogged up, it can result in water to drip from the exhaust. The exhaust system often becomes clogged due to the buildup of rust and debris in the component. Once dirt and debris have accumulated in the exhaust, it will cause hot exhaust fumes to be blocked inside the engine, leading to overheating.

Furthermore, if the engine overheats too much, it can deteriorate into more serious problems, like the engine failing.

Problems With the EGR Cooler

If there are issues with the EGR cooler, it may result in water coming from the exhaust. The purpose of the Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) cooler is to cut down emissions by burning exhaust more thoroughly and boosting fuel efficiency. The purpose of the EGR cooler is to protect the engine by lowering the combustion temperature with cooled exhaust gas.

However, there is a possibility that thermal stress might cause the EGR cooler to crack or become warped due to repeated cycling of repeated temperatures, reaching up to 800 degrees Celsius. Once the cooler cracks, the coolant leaks into the exhaust and escapes into the open as water. Thus, if the dripping water from your exhaust has a sweet smell, it’s likely coolant from the EGR cooler.

Defective Pump

A defective water pump is another reason why water might be coming out of your exhaust pipe. The pump is designed to circulate coolant throughout the coolant system. The pump operates by pushing the coolant from the radiator through to the cooling system and into the engine, then back to the radiator.

The pump comes with a seal, and once this seal becomes damaged, you will notice a leak from the weep hose. The coolant will then flow through the seal and go out to the hose, causing water to appear from the exhaust. The water you see at the exhaust is the engine coolant, and it often comes in green, orange, or red colors.

Defective Pistons or Rings

Defective pistons or rings usually cause water to come out of the exhaust system. Faulty pistons or rings are often caused by a damaged gasket or dampness in the exhaust. Also, defective rings or pistons often cause blowback, which might lead to greasy residue across the exhaust, blue smoke or dark exhaust.

A broken piston indicates a problem with either the car or the engine, and you should get it checked as quickly as possible. Broken pistons affect the operation of the cylinders and combustion chambers of the internal combustion engine.

Therefore, if you fail to fix the damaged piston, it will lead to more serious problems for the engine. The most obvious sign of a defective piston is that you will notice water coming out of the exhaust.

How Do You Stop Water From Coming Out of Your Exhaust?

You stop water from coming out of your exhaust by repairing the water pump, changing the piston, and cleaning the exhaust system. Other remedies to fix water seeping out of the exhaust include changing the gasket, replacing the EGR cooler, and replacing the converter.

Replace the Water Pump

If the pump is why water is flowing from your vehicle’s exhaust, then it should be fixed through repair or replacement. Repair is the go-to solution if the fault is minor. However, if the damage is severe, you should replace the pump with a new unit. You can either do it yourself or hire a mechanic to fix it.

To replace a defective pump, first disconnect the negative battery line. Then remove the radiator cap and disengage the valve under the front passenger’s seat to drain the radiator. If you spot the fan belt, remove it.

Next, remove the radiator hoses, unbolt and remove the fan shroud, then disengage the bolts from the drive pulley and remove it. Remove the bolts from the faulty pump and take out the pump. This is when you scrape away any dirt or debris from the area surrounding the gaskets. Then apply some industrial cleaning solution to the area and clean it properly.

Follow the pump manufacturer’s instructions regarding sealant for the gaskets. Apply the gasket sealant, install the replacement gaskets, position the replacement pump and secure the bolts. To complete the process, reattach the components in the order that you disconnected or dislodged them. Then start the vehicle to confirm that no water is dripping from the exhaust.

Change the Piston

A damaged piston should be replaced to restore the vehicle to good working condition and stop water from coming from the exhaust. If one piston is bad, then it’s most likely that the others are damaged too. Thus, you should replace it with a complete set so that you are assured of better performance.

Stop Water Leak of Exhaust

To install the new pistons, clean the cylinder bores with towels, then oil the piston and piston’s ring compressor. Install the compression rings using the ring expander tool or pliers. After that, place the ring compressor on the piston and oil the cylinder bore once more so it receives the piston.

Insert the connecting rod bearing and place the piston in the cylinder. Remove the ring compressor and connect the crankshaft. Tighten the piston rod bolts using the manufacturer’s specifications for torque to complete the installation process. Note that you can take the vehicle to an auto repair shop for this replacement.

Clean the Exhaust

If your vehicle’s exhaust system is clogged or blocked, the remedy is to clean out the debris or dirt. To clean the exhaust, you will need gloves, a few rags, a good brush that can fit into the pipe, a degreasing agent, metal polish, and a bucket of soap and water. Clean the outside of the pipe with soapy water and an old rag.

Then use the brush to clean the exhaust’s interior until the accumulated deposits are removed. Use another rag to apply degreaser inside and outside the exhaust. This will remove rust and caked-on carbon deposits. After that, allow the degreaser to sit inside the exhaust per the product’s label.

Using steel wool, remove the degreaser in small, circular motions. Then it is time to apply metal polish inside and outside the exhaust using steel wool or a rag. The next step is to remove the polish to reveal a clean, shiny pipe that is no longer clogged or filled with soot.

Change the Gasket

The only remedy for a blown gasket is to replace it with a new unit. To install the new gasket, you must first remove the old one. After that, clean the surfaces to remove dirt and debris so they won’t be in contact with the new gasket. If possible, use an industrial cleaning product to clean the surfaces.

Inspect the components for unevenness and distortions by placing the straightedge testing device over the surface and viewing them against a light source. If there is unevenness, it will be made visible by light shining through the gaps.

Slowly position the new gasket to fit over each cylinder head, then install the new bolts, ensuring they are well-tightened. As a precaution, consult the service manual about specific instructions for your engine before performing this replacement.

Replace the Converter

Once the engine’s converter is damaged beyond repair, it should be replaced with a new unit. First, ensure the vehicle is parked on level ground. Then jack up all four wheels off the floor and locate the converter, which looks like a box in the middle of the exhaust system underneath the vehicle.

Check whether the converter is welded or bolted, then remove the oxygen sensor. If the converter is welded, you must take the vehicle to a mechanic’s shop because the removal process requires professional expertise. If the converter is bolted, remove the bolts to detach the converter.

Install the new converter carefully by first tightening the nuts with your hands before using a tool. Ensure that the bolts are properly tightened to avoid leaks, then reattach the oxygen sensors and secure them in place. Perform an emission test to check if the converter is working correctly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Should You Do If Black Liquid Is Coming Out From Your Exhaust?

You should get your car checked if black liquid is coming out from your exhaust because it indicates a serious problem with the vehicle. The problem could be due to damaged head gaskets, worn-out piston rings, and damaged valve guides. Also, the black liquid is most likely engine oil.

Fixing Faulty Pistons


You no longer have to worry or panic if water is coming from your exhaust.

Here are our final thoughts on the main points discussed in this article:

  • The common reasons water comes out of the exhaust include a poorly cooled engine, a damaged EGR cooler, a defective converter, and a faulty catalytic converter.
  • You can stop water from coming out of your exhaust by repairing the water pump, changing the piston, and cleaning the exhaust.
  • Other remedies to water dripping from your exhaust include changing the gasket, replacing the EGR cooler, and replacing the catalytic converter.

With the knowledge in this article, you should be able to diagnose and fix the problem once you notice water dripping from your exhaust pipe.

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