2001 Honda Civic White smoke from Steering column in 2001 H

Tiny
RAJAIYER
  • MEMBER
  • 2001 HONDA CIVIC
  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • MANUAL
  • 113,000 MILES
Hi

I have a 2001 Honda Civic. It is manual transmission and has 113 K miles on it. Recently, it has been very hot here and on a couple of occations when I have driven the vehicle for more than 20 min or I see white smoke coming out of the steering column. Also, it smells like plastic burning. I was worried about this so I opened the plastic covering and found that plastic on some part ( I guess electrical part) was burning (pics attached). I am kind of worried about the airbag as well. I am not sure if that is the only part which was responsible for the white smoke. Any ideas what I should be doing.

Also, I have seen the front headlights behave oddly. Occasionally I see that the only the right or only the left OR both lights work. I dont know if there is any pattern at all. Is this a safety concern? An
y ideas?

Thanks
Raja
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Monday, July 19th, 2010 AT 11:54 PM

4 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Hi rajaiyer. Welcome to the forum. You have headlights acting up and you're about to have a car fire. I'd call that a safety concern. The photo didn't show up, but I suspect the overheating part is the headlight dimmer switch. It is somewhat common for headlight and dimmer switches to overheat on any brand of car because they have such high current going through them. Once a contact becomes burned or pitted, the resistance creates more heat which continues the cycle.

If you catch the problem early enough, you might get away with replacing just the switch. Eventually the terminals and wires in the connector will overheat too and will have to be replaced and new sections of wire will have to be spliced in.

Caradiodoc
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Tuesday, July 20th, 2010 AT 1:36 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
It appears there is something to look at in the bottom of photo number three, right in the middle. Not sure if that's just an electrical connector in the middle of a harness or if it plugs into something, but those connections should be inspected, cleaned with sandpaper, and squeezed tighter for better contact. You might be able to locate the overheating contact(s) by touch too. The sooner you fix it, the easier it will be. If the culprit is just a connector in the middle of a harnness, you can cut the terminals and any hardened pieces of wire out and splice the wires together. It could make future service more difficult but it's a sure fire way to prevent a repeat failure and possibly a fire.

Caradiodoc
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Tuesday, July 20th, 2010 AT 2:04 PM
Tiny
01BLUCIVICEX
  • MEMBER
As an owner of an 01 civic, I've racked up 205,559 miles, and came across the same issue you're having.
I was driving with my hedlights on and white smoke was coming from the steering colum. I turned off my headlights and the smoke went away. Yes it was the smell of burning plastic. I took my car to a honda dealer and they fixed the problem free of charge.
There is a RECALL for the headlight switch for these hondas. Double check to see if your car was fixed for this problem.
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Monday, July 26th, 2010 AT 10:50 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Thank you for that info, 01bluCivicEX. You're truly a wonderful human being!

Caradiodoc
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Tuesday, July 27th, 2010 AT 2:03 AM

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