How to Make a Smoke Machine for Automotive (Vacuum Leak Detector)

smoke detector machine

I’ll show you how you can build your own simple smoke machine detector to locate vacuum leaks on your automotive vehicles.

If you notice a chance of a leak on your EVAP (Evaporative Emission Control system) system and after doing the visual inspection you’re unable to locate the spot then I recommend you check out this article.

The best way to detect any Vacuum, exhaust, or engine leaks is to apply smoke to it which can be achieved using an automotive smoke machine.

Although you can purchase a high-volume fog machine for as low as $400 upwards which at times isn’t budget-friendly.

In this article, I’m going to show you two guides on how to make a smoke machine for your car. The first one is going to be long and tedious and the second is going to be brief and precise.

The first one looks more professional and requires more tools but the latter one is achievable with readily available materials. Either way, all of them work perfectly depending on your preference

But before we learn how to create a smoke machine let’s see possible reasons why cars smoke.

Why do Cars Smoke?

Listed below are possible reasons why your automotive vehicle suddenly starts bringing out smoke.

  1. Overheating – When the engine is running overheating then you’ll notice excess smoke coming out from the exhaust or engine.
  2. Overheated Liquids e.g. oil, transmission fluids, and brake oil
  3. Faulty wire casing
  4. The heated remainder of the engine block
  5. Fault in the coolant system. E.g fan blades
  6. Low or bad engine oil etc.

There are many more possible reasons why your car will smoke but it’s best to meet your car engineer if you notice too much smoke output.

Nevertheless, remember I said earlier that car smoking might be caused by either a vacuum, engine, or exhaust leaks. So, let’s see how to create a simple smoke detector for your car in 5mins.

Recommended:  How to Crank Engine Without Starting

How to Make Smoke Machines for Automotive

This is the first guide and as I said earlier you’re going to need a couple of things to get our smoke machine detector working.

Let’s see the requirements.

Requirements to Build an Automotive Smoke Machine

  • PVC closet Flange – Buy Now
  • Clean out Adapter
  • PVC Glue
  • Tape
  • 1½ Drill Bit – Buy Now
  • ½ Torch Wick
  • Welding Wire – Buy Now
  • Soldering Iron – Buy Now
  • Multimeter
  • Two ¼ bolt
  • Car charger Adapter with Amp fuse(Cut Charging port)
  • Ring Crimp Terminal – Buy Now
  • Air compressor Fittings
  • Stepper Bit
  • Air Hose – Buy Now
  • Baby Oil – Buy Now
  • 12V motor Battery for testing
  • Pressure blocking Plug

Now, that’s a whole lot of requirements but you should give it a try if you want to get a professional vacuum leak detector for your car.

I’ll attach links to some products above and I’ll get an affiliate commission when you purchase from any of them. Thank you.

  1. Start by gluing the PVC closet Flange with the other half of the Clean out Adapter with the use of a glue
  2. Now, measure 1½ inches using the tape and make two holes vertical to each other using the quarter drill bits
  3. Next, get the torch wick to the correct width and length by cutting off the excesses while making sure it also touches the bottom of the Closet Flange.
  4. Make a mark on both sides of the wick to know where the wire stops on each end (width)
  5. Next, get a welding wire off approximately 30 inches. You can check the ohms by sliding through the multimeter gauge.
  6. Now, wrap the welding wire around the torch wick (it’s not compulsory to make the spaces equal but try not to make one touch the other)
  7. Get the ¼ bolts and wrap the two on each side (width of the wick) of the torch wick using some part of the welding wire.
  8. Next, place the wick inside the closet and push in the quarter-inch bolt inside of the holes made (sideways)
  9. Now, get your battery charger and cut off the charging port replacing it with the ring terminal
  10. Cut the small rubber grommet into two and use it to seal each side of the bolts
  11. Insert both ends of the ring terminal in the bolt and then screw it up.
  12. Next is to drill two holes, one to let air in and another to let the air out using the air compressor Fittings.
  13. Make two holes using the stepper bit around ½ length and 100° to each other
  14. Insert the compressor Fittings inside it and screw it to fit
  15. Now, attach your air hose to one end of the compressor Fittings
  16. Then pour your oil into the glued container making sure it moist the wick with extra oils at the bottom.
  17. You can test it out without the top by connecting the head of the batter to a 12V battery or any motor battery of your choice and you’ll see smoke coming out from the smoke machine.
  18. Now close the mouth of the clean-out Adapter.
  19. Additionally, it’s advisable to add the Pressure blocking plug after you’ve closed the cleanout adapter. So that if pressure is built into the system; it’ll simply blow out the plug instead of destroying the smoke detector machine.
  20. Next, go to your car and connect your Vacuum line leading to the EVAP system to the smoke machine.
  21. Connect your car battery.
  22. Now, check for any location where smoke might come up.
Recommended:  How to Charge a Car Battery Without a Charger

You might consider taking your car to a technician if the cause of the smoke overweighs your control for an immediate fix before it escalates to something costlier.

That’s all about making a smoke detection system for your automotive vehicles.

Now, let’s quickly see the best alternative to building the perfect smoke machine.

Alternative Method to Build Smoke Machines for Automotives


  • A glass container with a lid inclusive
  • A Bic Pen
  • Cheap Soldering Iron – Buy Now
  • Bicycle Pump – Buy Now
  • Vinyl Hoe
  • Epoxy Glue
  • Cotton Socks
  • Baby Oil – Buy Now

How to Make a Homemade Smoke Tester Machine

  1. Cut off the piece of the pen to create a hole on both sides
  2. Remove the lid and the extra plastic attached at the bottom
  3. Drill three holes in the lid of the glass container the middle one should contain the soldering iron and the left and right holes should contact the pen and its cover.
  4. Now, use the epoxy glue on both sides of the glass container cover and hold it for up to 6mins to ensure an airtight seal.
  5. Next, you can screw the container cover onto the jar.
  6. Then attach the bicycle air pump onto the pen and the vinyl hoe to the pen’s lid.
  7. Now, open the lid and put your cotton socks with a lot of baby oil. Make sure it soaks really good – to avoid burning.
  8. Finally, connect your soldering iron to electricity and give it some time to heat up. You can now see smoke emerging from the system we’ve built.
  9. You can now go ahead and connect the hose to your car vacuum and then pump air into it using the bicycle pump.
Recommended:  Best Steering Wheel Cleaner 2023

Watch out for any smoke leakage in your car system and report to your engineer if you can’t fix it.

That’s it.

Can you use a Smoke Machine in a Car?

Yes, you can, but you’ll need to make sure your car is off before proceeding with using the vacuum detector.

You’ll also need to close the purge solenoid and gas cap before attaching the machine to your car.

That’s all for now.


I hope with this article you’ve learned how to make a smoke machine for your automotive and you can now proceed to perform a do-it-yourself smoke test on your car.

Kindly drop a comment below.