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News Release

Kevin R. Malone - Nevada DMV
(702) 486-1311

Kathleen Hale - Rose/Glenn Group
(775) 827-7311

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(RENO, Nev.) – Not all vehicles emitting visible exhaust pollute the Truckee Meadows, particularly those that are seen during colder winter months when motorists are warming up their vehicles.  The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) helps drivers distinguish the difference between cold cars and smoking cars. 

 A cold car emitting white, gray or black smoke when first started is normal due to condensation, but not after the vehicle is warmed up.  When a car is started, water is emitted in the form of a vapor.  By the time the vapor hits the exhaust system it condenses, and becomes visible.  This chain reaction is also the reason drivers see water dripping from the tailpipe. 

 Vehicles emitting blue, black, gray or white smoke after a vehicle is warmed-up indicate mechanical problems resulting in air pollution to the Truckee Meadows.    


·         Blue Smoke is a result of engine oil being burned and is caused by an oil leak into the combustion chamber or worn piston rings, valves or cylinders. 

·         Black or Grey Smoke results from incomplete fuel combustion caused by a clogged air filter; carburetor, choke, fuel injection or emission system malfunction; ignition timing off; or a blocked manifold. 

·         White Smoke indicates that coolant and or water is being vaporized in the combustion chamber and could mean the head gasket is leaking, the vehicle has a cracked block or cylinder or the engine is cold.

Residents of the Truckee Meadows can easily help to improve the region’s air quality by reporting smoking vehicles by calling 686-SMOG.  Callers should be prepared to provide the license plate number of the smoking vehicle, the approximate time the vehicle was spotted and the location of the vehicle.  All information is confidential.

 The smoking vehicle program started in 1996, resulting in more than 32,000 calls over the last five years to the DMV.  The program has helped to get more than 5,000 smoking vehicles cleaned up resulting in cleaner air for the region. 

 For more information on the smoking vehicle program call 1-877-DMV-STAT (1-877-368-7828) or access