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electrical smoke from Dash

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After a 15 minute drive the headlights on my MY01 C4 with 11,000 miles started flickering and then some smoke comes out from right in between the dash cowl and driver side dash speaker, accompianed by a nasty electrical smell. I shut the car down immediately and the smoke continued for about 10 seconds and stoped. I waited a few minutes and finished the drive to my girlfriends with no more problems.

A couple hours later I had to started the car and the same thing happened, so I shut it down again and it stoped. I waited a bit and then drove home with no problems. At home I pulled the front speaker and looked around and couldn't find any signs of an electrical problem - melted wires, etc. With the speaker out, I started car again hoping to see the source, but no more smoke. The most logical explanation is a couple days ago I switched out the upper console for a body color matching one, and had unplugged the toggle connections in the middle of the dash along with the upgraded stereo system I had put in a month ago.

If something was shorting out from the center console area could or would the smoke escape from the area behind the front cowl and also cause the headlights to flicker or is this probably something totally unrealted to my new upper console?

Sorry this is so long but I wanted to give all possible pertanent info because I know nothing about electrical issues except they scare the crap out of me.

Thanks in advance for any advice and for taking the time to read this.


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The acrid electrical burning smell will help you find it. Logically, the gap between the cluster and speaker is the highest point in the dash, so it doesn't mean that the smoke was generated directly below.

If you are going to start to investigate this yourself, please disconnect the battery first. No excuses, just do it. I've just seen an '06 VW Passat with the entire dash removed and an awful mess of burnt wires and yellow repair wires - caused by a poorly fitted taxi radio. (The workshop would not let me photograph it.)

Start removing the easy accessible things, like the radio, panel switches and headlight switch, hopefully that smell will guide you to the problem area because it remains really strong on the perpetrator for a week or so.

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