Electrical smell and smoke

Joeinnewjersey

TJ Enthusiast
Original poster
Joined
Jul 3, 2020
Messages
291
Location
New Jersey
Good evening, everybody. I recently (last week) purchased a 2006 Jeep Wrangler 65th anniversary edition with 90k miles. I wanted a jeep ever since I was a kid and saw Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman cruising together in Days of Thunder and I’ve been reading this forum since I got the jeep for tips and advice.

Today I took my first drive with the top off and noticed things that I didn’t notice in the first week of ownership (driving with top on and windows up). About a hour into the drive I noticed an electrical burning smell, as I was driving in town I concluded that maybe an electrical fire was going on in the neighborhood but when I came to the stop light a few minutes later I noticed some smoke coming out of the left side of the hood. As I made my way home I got a whiff of the electrical smell every so often and noticed the smoke one more time at a light.

I do not claim to be a mechanic so I will provide you my best observations.

1. At no point did the Jeep seem to lose power or the ability to drive. When I hit the gas it went. It’s an automatic and the it went through the gears fine.

2. I’ve noticed a slight rumbling when stopped at lights.

3. No warning lights on the dashboard or weird readings (temp was normal, battery was normal, etc.)

4. I looked underneath and did not see any plastic bags attached to the jeep.

5. All the fluid levels checked out.

6. No blatant evidence of anything leaking. I don’t see any drips on the driveway, I don’t see any burned oil or anything on the engine.

7. I don’t see any broken wires or hoses. No wires sitting on top of something that could get hot.

8. There was one wire hanging (the wire giving power to the hood light) but it doesnt appear to have been rubbing on anything.

9. The jeep starts right up and sounds normal. I observed the engine as it was running and I did not see anything leaking or smoking BUT the smell would come and go faintly. I asked another person to stand nearby to see if they also smelled it and they did.

Information that may be helpful: the dealership did an oil change and changed the brakes the day before I purchased the vehicle.

EDIT:I would like to add that the problem seemed to start after I turned the AC off in the jeep. Since I picked it up last week I’ve had the ac on and today, the first day with the top off, I turned the AC off. Don’t know if this is just a coincidence or what.
 
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IF you haven't found anything obvious; do you know someone somewhat knowledgeable with vehicles to assist you ?
My suggestion would be to find a friend, acquaintance or someone from the forum that lives near you to assist you in troubleshooting.
Start the vehicle and have this person assist you to locate the source of the electrical burning odor. You don't want the Jeep to end up on the side of the road ablaze.... Electrical fires can be difficult to put out....
 
IF you haven't found anything obvious; do you know someone somewhat knowledgeable with vehicles to assist you ?
My suggestion would be to find a friend, acquaintance or someone from the forum that lives near you to assist you in troubleshooting.
Start the vehicle and have this person assist you to locate the source of the electrical burning odor. You don't want the Jeep to end up on the side of the road ablaze.... Electrical fires can be difficult to put out....

Yep, I have a friend that knows pretty much everything about auto mechanics. Just wondering if this was a problem common to this particular model.
 
Blower motor resistors burn out on those things, that's all I can think of, that and carry a fire extinguisher.

Edit: the rough idle at stoplights is pretty normal, the idle control thing on these Jeeps isn't too good, you can clean it (search IAC).
 
Blower motor resistors burn out on those things, that's all I can think of, that and carry a fire extinguisher.

Edit: the rough idle at stoplights is pretty normal, the idle control thing on these Jeeps isn't too good, you can clean it (search IAC).

Okay thanks for the information. I would like to add that the problem seemed to start after I turned the AC off in the jeep. Since I picked it up last week I’ve had the ac on and today, the first day with the top off, I turned the AC off. Don’t know if this is just a coincidence or what.
 
Okay thanks for the information. I would like to add that the problem seemed to start after I turned the AC off in the jeep. Since I picked it up last week I’ve had the ac on and today, the first day with the top off, I turned the AC off. Don’t know if this is just a coincidence or what.

I kinda doubt turning off the AC had anything to do with it. You could always turn it back on with the top off to find out AFTER you get a fire extinguisher to take with you.

I'm also glad to hear that whatever made the smoke come out from under the hood stopped. Hopefully you actually opened the hood to see what was happening at that point. If not, you're one of the luckiest people that didn't end up jumping out of their vehicle moments before it burnt to the ground.
 
I kinda doubt turning off the AC had anything to do with it. You could always turn it back on with the top off to find out AFTER you get a fire extinguisher to take with you.

I'm also glad to hear that whatever made the smoke come out from under the hood stopped. Hopefully you actually opened the hood to see what was happening at that point. If not, you're one of the luckiest people that didn't end up jumping out of their vehicle moments before it burnt to the ground.

It appears after closer inspection that the plastic wrapping surrounding some of the wires was disintegrating and falling and then getting hot causing the smell and smoke. When I touched what remained of this wrapping it just fell apart.
 
When you say disintegrating; do you mean crumbling into pieces due to continual heat from the engine compartment OR do you mean the wiring inside the plastic split wire loom was getting hot causing the plastic pieces to fall off ?
 
When you say disintegrating; do you mean crumbling into pieces due to continual heat from the engine compartment OR do you mean the wiring inside the plastic split wire loom was getting hot causing the plastic pieces to fall off ?

the wiring itself appears to be just fine, the plastic wire loom was very brittle and flaking away.
 
First, if/when you see smoke, immediately pull over, shut the thing off, and investigate the source. Also, get a fire extinguisher and mount it in the Jeep. I have one in every vehicle I own.
That said, check the left front brake. It's very possible that the caliper is hung up causing that brake to drag. It will get hot enough to smoke and will create a lot of smell too
 
First, if/when you see smoke, immediately pull over, shut the thing off, and investigate the source. Also, get a fire extinguisher and mount it in the Jeep. I have one in every vehicle I own.
That said, check the left front brake. It's very possible that the caliper is hung up causing that brake to drag. It will get hot enough to smoke and will create a lot of smell too

okay. Thanks for the advice. Would I be experiencing issues with braking with this problem? because so far I have not.