My Ranger just did the same thing over the weekend. Smoke came in conjunction with the left turn signal stopping. The multi-function switch burned out. One new switch and a bunch of $ later it's fixed. New switch feels better than the old one ever did. More positive feeling.
My multi-function switch (turn signal/wiper control) cost me about $130 for my old Ranger. I think you have to buy OEM because nobody else makes one.
The hazards that I experienced: my wipers and my turn signals did not work. If you aren't experiencing this, I don't know what to tell you. The smoke might have been an isolated incident and nothing got damaged. I can't imagine what it felt like for her to see smoke coming from the steering wheel.
BTW, be careful when you change the switch because of the SRS airbag in the steering wheel. You don't need to remove the steering wheel to swap the switches, but I would hate for you to cross a wire and end up with a deployed bag in your face.
OK, so the dealer just called and wants $210 to replace the switch. My wife got the extended warranty on the car but apparently it does not cover this (dealer just left a message - haven't talked to him). I will have to find out for sure. But assuming it isn't, should I fix it at all? I haven't had any problems with the trun signals, etc. Should I try to replace it myself? I have no automotive experience, but can usually figure things out on my own.
As an aside, does anyone know any recourse with the warranty situation? I told my wife to get the extended warranty about a year after she got the explorer because I knew the transmission would go (it did). The warranty did cover that, so it paid for itself. But we have had problems with the warranty in other areas. Doesn't cover this part, doesn't cover that part. What is teh point of the warranty if it doesn't do anything? Anyone gotten any relief from this?
You can usually buy these switches (often called "combo" - for combination turn/cruise/wiper - switches) at auto supply stores, as least for popular cars like the Explorer. I just bought one for my 1997 Mountaineer (Explorer) for $53. And I have cruise and all the other stuff.
They are not too hard to install. You need to have the battery cable off. I cannot guarantee about the 2000 Explorer, but it is quite similar to the 1996-1998 trucks, like the one I have. To change the switch on my truck, you remove the lower dash trim piece, a large lower dash reinforcing metal plate, and three screws in the bottom half of the two-piece plastic cover over the combo switch. If you have tilt you need to move the wheel down as far as it will go. You may need to unbolt the steering column brace at the dash. You can then push down just a bit on the column to get the cover off. (Don't push too far, you can bend the flexible link in the column!). Then unscrew the old switch (two screws), remove two electrical connectors, and reverse all the steps using the new switch. And, you do not have to remove the top half of the cover all the way - you can lift it up to reach the two switch screws once it is separated from the bottom half. The lower cover falls away easily.
The screws are star-bit, so you need to buy a cheap set of star-bit screwdrivers if you don't have them (you will need two sizes, one for the switch cover/ dash cover, and one for the switch). And you will need a 10mm socket for some of the bolts on the reinforcing plate. The only thing you need to do is take your time and don't get frustrated trying to get the cover off. or you might scratch or tear some trim. You will then have a cosmetic defect staring you in the face each time you drive.
By the way, and I have reported this to the web master without good response, many times in posting to this forum the editor software will delete the word battery (If it happens in this post, I am talking about the energy storage device commonly known by that name. The previous sentence ends with that word, not the words "by that"). My original post did have, when I composed it, the word in question just before the word cable.
Mightly strange indeed. It is not just me. Keep your eyes open and you will see the word missing in many posts. The editor does not leave a blank space for it either. Just moves the next word or punctuation mark to the left.
My wife was driving our 2000 Explorer a few days ago and just today told me that she saw a little trail of smoke come up from teh steering column. Anyone know what this is all about? Thanks.
I have had the same intermitent problem with my 2000 Explorer. Apply the brake and left turn signal, the left indicator glows steady. Then when you lift your foot off the brake and turn the wheel right a little plume of smoke rises from the space between the wheel and the shaft shroud. Have heard that it's a faulty turn signal module. This seems to be a problem on 2000 Explorers.
My '99 did the same thing to my wife. The turn signal would not activate at the time.
I checked everything later that day and it all worked. I disassembled the steering column covers and looked at the wiring. It all looked to be in good condition so put it all back together and checked all the functions out. All functions are still working.
I am guessing that something fell in the contacts causing the smoke.
Has anyone taken a bad switch apart to see what the problem is?