While idling, white smoke from the hood....

Occasionally, after I've been driving for a while and the engine is warm, when I stop at a red light or anywhere for a few moments, white smoke will start billowing from the hood. My gague never goes up, no
odd noises, smells....just the smoke. If I shift into neutral or park, it tends to stop. Of course, it's making me extremely nervous anyway, as I've lost a couple cars to overheating.....the sight of smoke coming from the hood of any car I'm driving gives me a jolt of fear. I've read some posts where leaking coolant has been the problem. My question is, for someone who hardly has any expendable cash, what is the best course of action? How worried should I be about this? I don't have to drive it every day, but when I do, it's for fairly long distances.
Thank you,
-Rick
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I'm sorry, I should have mentioned, this is a 1999 Taurus SE.
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Has the weather lately been wet or very cold?
Just asking to see if the engine is getting wet, or the little steam that comes off the overflow is making itself look bigger.
BTW, if no, have you been loosing coolant level?
later,
tom @ www.Love-Calculators.com
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snipped-for-privacy@barr26.com wrote:

Yes you should be worried. Are you losing coolant? If it gets too low the engine will overheat and possibly do some major damage. As far as your gauge; the sensor is mounted high up in the cooling system. If you are low on coolant the gauge can actually show the engine running cooler because the sender is not surrounded by coolant. You can melt down the engine and the gauge will never move. Open the hood and look for signs of leaking. It could be as simple as a bad cap on the reservoir. Also, if it only does this at idle, make sure your cooling fan is running. If the system is overheating and venting at Idle you "should" see the gauge going up though. You can check the fan by turning on the AC, it runs all the time with the AC on. Look closely at the coolant reservoir, I've seen a lot of them crack and leak under pressure. The reservoir on your Taurus is pressurized along with the rest of the system, it isn't just an overflow bottle. (It's actually called a de-gas reservoir).             Tom
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Thanks for the replies. I haven't been able to tell if it always does it when it's been wet, but I had also thought it might be steam. I've checked coolant levels, they seem fine.
Since this didn't start happening until fall, I haven't used the AC. Are you saying I should run the AC if it starfts smoking to see if it stops? I'll inspect the reservoir closely and see what I can find.
Thanks again,
-Rick
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snipped-for-privacy@barr26.com wrote:

You probably have a coolant leak somewhere. I would check all of the heater tubes, coolant lines, etc. very carefully for cracks, splits, breaks or anything else that would cause the engine to leak coolant.
Matt
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