Why submit a report

Reporting smoky vehicles to EPA helps us prevent air pollution in Victoria.

Most of the time, drivers of a smoky vehicle are not aware that their vehicle is emitting too much smoke. Reporting smoky vehicles, will help let vehicle owners know there may be a problem with their vehicles. 

You should report a smoky vehicle within 14 days of when you saw it.

What smoky means

A smoky vehicle means it emits visible smoke continuously for 10 seconds or more.

Some vehicles particularly with diesel engines may emit some smoke under certain driving conditions as part of normal operation conditions. This does not include steam which is water vapour that can look like smoke, especially on cold mornings.

Types of vehicles you can report

You can report any smoky vehicle that is less than 4.5 tonnes. To report smoke from large trucks and buses over 4.5 tonnes contact the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.  

We deal with reports about smoky cars and vehicles registered in Victoria.

How to report smoky vehicles

Use the Report a smoky vehicle form to report smoky vehicles under 4.5 tonnes.

What information you need to give us

  1. What – vehicle details, registration number and colour.
  2. When – the exact time and date you saw the smoky vehicle.
  3. Where – where the vehicle was and what road it was travelling on.

You will also need to give us your full name and contact details. This is so we can speak to you if we have any questions. We won’t give this information to anyone.

After you report a smoky vehicle

After you report a smoky vehicle, we’ll check the vehicle details with VicRoads.

If the details match, we’ll write to the owner and tell them to have their vehicle checked and repaired to prevent excessive smoke from being emitted.

Possible causes of smoky vehicles

Some faults that can cause smoke from vehicles include:

  • an overfilled sump
  • a blocked air cleaner
  • faulty fuel enrichment systems used for cold starts
  • faulty electronic or mechanical controls
  • poor fuel quality (contaminated or incorrect density or grade)
  • a blocked or damaged fuel filter
  • incorrectly set or damaged fuel injectors or fuel pump
  • worn piston rings, pistons, cylinder bores, valve stems, seals or guides
  • incorrectly set or damaged turbochargers or superchargers.

Types of smoke and what the colour means 

White smoke

Thick white smoke coming from the exhaust is a result of engine coolant burning. This can be caused by:

  • a bad head gasket
  • a cracked cylinder head
  • a cracked engine block.

Blue smoke

Blue smoke coming from your exhaust is abnormal and indicates that there may be an oil leak in your engine and its burning. This can be caused by:

  • worn cylinder walls
  • leaking valve seals
  • damaged piston rings.

Black smoke

Black smoke is another indication that there is a problem with your vehicle. Black smoke often indicates that your vehicle is burning through fuel excessively. Reasons for this include:

  • a malfunctioning fuel injection system
  • a blocked manifold
  • a clogged air filter.

Temporary thin white smoke

Temporary thin white smoke coming from the exhaust is no need to be alarmed. This smoke is actually condensation that is produced as your car warms up on a cold day. This condensation will evaporate after a short time.


Privacy collection notice

EPA collects your information to identify who is making a pollution report and for what reason. This information is required to investigate and evaluate non-compliance or contravention of the Environment Protection Act 2017. 

EPA may use your information to contact you to provide updates on your report or to seek further details about it. Additionally, your information may be used to call you as an eyewitness for any court proceedings relating to your report. 

EPA may use or disclose your information to investigate the provision of any false information. 

If you do not provide the information required by this form, including personal information, EPA will be unable to accept your report. 

You may contact EPA directly call 1300 372 842 or by email contact@epa.vic.gov.au to request access to your personal information.

Read the EPA’s privacy policy.

Read more about reporting pollution

Reporting pollution

How to report noise pollution 

How to report litter from vehicles 

How to report illegal waste disposal 

How to report smoke in the air

How to report a breach of your EPA licence

How to report odour

Reviewed 10 January 2024