Anytime smoke, or steam, is coming out of the engine compartment, it is best to shut the engine down, let it cool, and then find out what the problem is before starting the engine again.
It could be a bad belt, pulley, radiator leak, burning wires, etc. Its best not to compound any small problem by running the engine until you discover the possible source of the steam or smoke, because you could turn it into a major or dangerous problem.
One time I had smoke coming out of the engine compartment, with a "rubber" type smell. Upon checking it out I found that a plastic shopping bag had been sucked up off of the highway onto the exhaust manifold. Once the bag was removed, and all of the plastic finally burned off, the "problem" stopped.
Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007 AT 5:48 PM