Why Is Smoke Coming From My Steering Wheel? (What To Do)

You probably already know for a fact that it is normal for a car to produce a bit of smoke depending on how efficient the engine is and whether or not the gas it is burning is clean. However, it isn’t common for smoke to be coming out of something on your dashboard, such as the steering wheel.

So, if smoke is coming from your steering wheel, what is the probable cause?

Here’s why smoke coming from steering wheel

If smoke is coming from your steering wheel, it could be due to an electrical short circuit that caused a bit of a spark inside the car’s electrical system. This may be a result of one of the wires going bad or one of the components burning out due to failure or wear and tear.

Car Steering wheel

Because smoke coming from one of the components in the car’s cabin isn’t normal, you should be concerned when smoke is coming out of the steering wheel or any part of the dashboard, for that matter.

As such, it is best to have your car checked immediately so that you quickly have the problem diagnosed and resolved before it becomes more serious.

Why is smoke coming from my steering wheel?

One of the things that you already know about your car is that combustion is something that is quite common in any kind of vehicle because of the fact that most cars use combustion engines.

That’s why, in most cases, a car that is emitting smoke can be quite normal, especially if the engine is on the older side and the fuel it is burning isn’t quite clean.

However, what you do know is that there shouldn’t be smoke coming in from any of the components inside the car’s cabin. That is because most of the components in the cabin are electrical and should not be producing any kind of smoke under normal circumstances.

But what if you notice that there is smoke coming out from the steering wheel column? What does it mean when smoke is coming from the steering wheel?

If there is smoke coming from the steering wheel, even if it is just a small puff or something that is quite minor, that could mean that there might be something wrong with some of the electrical components behind the steering wheel (in the steering wheel column) or somewhere behind the dashboard.

As mentioned, a lot of the components found inside the car’s cabin are electrical in nature. That means that they are powered by a series of circuits and electrical systems that rely on wires and other similar components. We know for a fact that materials that conduct electricity can easily create a spark once they make contact with one another. As such, this could be the reason why there is smoke coming from your steering wheel.

Look at it this way. Take two copper wires that are each connected to a battery and then connect the two wires. You might notice that they will create a small spark that should be serious but might be enough to create smoke if the circuit is larger and there are more components involved in the circuit.

So, going back, your steering wheel and the dashboard all have a lot of different wires and electrical components behind them. All of these wires have their own functions and form part of electrical circuits that allow some of the different electrical systems to work. This could be the dashboard lights, the headlights, or the head unit. Whatever the case may be, all of these wires serve a purpose.

When one of the wires behind the steering wheel or the dashboard wears out due to the normal effects of wear and tear, the wires might open up to reveal the conductive material inside them. So, when the conductive material is revealed or when some of the wires and electrical components no longer work in the same way that they once did, there are plenty of things that can happen.

First, the revealed conductive material (usually copper) in the wire might cause a spark that can produce a bit of smoke. Second, electrical components that no longer work well might end up causing a short circuit and may force one of the fuses to blow, which can also produce a bit of smoke.

All that said, everything can be traced to the electrical components found behind the steering wheel and the dashboard. One of the components may have become too worn out and could have caused a spark or even a short. Smoke can be one of the byproducts.

Is it dangerous if my steering wheel is smoking?

Normally speaking, the smoke that comes out of the steering wheel may not be too dangerous on its own unless the smoke is actually pretty thick and continuous and not just a mere puff. That could mean that there could be a fire inside the steering wheel column or the dashboard. However, a small puff is not dangerous on its own per se. What is dangerous is the possible reason why there was smoke coming out of the steering wheel.

As mentioned, the different electrical components found behind the steering wheel are all connected to certain electrical systems that your car needs to function well. This could be the headlight, the brake light, or the head unit. So, if the spark was the result of one of the wires of an important system, that could be dangerous.

For example, if the smoke was caused by a spark from one of the wires connected to the headlights, you could end up driving blind in the dark. This could be dangerous to you and to the other people on the road.

So, even if it is merely a small puff of smoke, you should still be concerned because it can probably end up in a failure in one of the more important electrical components in the vehicle. The danger may not be imminent, but there is still a chance that you will end up getting into a dangerous situation if you sense that there is a bit of smoke coming from the steering wheel.

What should I do if my steering wheel is smoking?

If you notice that there is smoke coming out of your steering wheel, open your windows, pull over to a safe location, and turn off the engine quickly. Even if the situation may not be dangerous, there is still a chance that it could lead to something serious. 

As such, it is best to call a towing service that can take your car to the nearest repair shop. Tell the mechanics about the smoke and then allow them to assess where it is coming from. Even if it is merely a one-time occurrence, it still is best to be sure because this one-time occurrence may lead to something more serious in the future.


I noticed smoke in my car’s steering console. What could be the reason?

Small amount of smoke coming from steering column. uh oh…

Smoke is coming from steering wheel column and there is a burning smell, loud noise from engine