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1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass:
Smoke from Steering Column

By
Alex Steele
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Question:

 

I own a 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass and I've been having a problem that appears to be dangerous. Every once in awhile when I start the car in the morning there is a puff of smoke coming out of the steering column just behind the steering wheel. Everything works fine, but I'm worried about a possible fire.

 

Answer:

 

The fact that the smoke appears only on start-up tells me that the circuit becomes active with the ignition turned on. The problem wouldn't be the ignition switch itself because its actual location is down at the base of the column near your feet. So, we can pretty much narrow it down to the directional switch.

 

I would bet on the directional switch being the cause for two reasons. One is the fact you're not blowing a fuse. So we can assume that there is no direct short causing the smoke. Reason number two is that I've seen this problem before and have changed a bunch of smoking directional switches on this particular body style.

 

But to be absolutely sure you should remove the steering wheel in order to gain access to the suspect component. Once there, you should be able to locate a small, burned and/or melted spot somewhere on the switch to confirm the diagnosis.

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