Stinky white smoke from dashboard

i was driving my 97 honda civic (automatic, 150,000 mi) down some back roads for 25 minutes when all of a sudden a kind of burnt, chemically smelling white smoke (maybe a bluish tint) started pouring out of the vents, cracks, even the glove box. i immediately pulled over and turned the car off, and the smoke stopped soon after. i checked all the fluids and they appeared to be at acceptable levels and normal colors, and the car wasn’t overheating. after maybe 40 minutes of worrying, talking on the phone, and looking the car over with a guy who stopped his tractor to help, i drove the 3 miles home with no smoke or nasty smell, or any other problems. it has been right around 5k mi since the last oil change (the owner’s manual says 7k, is that ok or should i stick to 5?). i appreciate any info on what this problem may be!

Did the CEL come on?

What you described sounds like wiring insulation burning, possibly from a short.

Radio, etc. still working? Try everything to narrow the field.

What you describe sounds like an electrical short circuit. One or more fuses should have blown to prevent this. Last time I saw this I had a vehicle with an electrical fire under the dashboard. It wasn’t pretty.

I suggest you check all fuses, relays, and fusible links.

no, CEL didn’t come on. the radio doesn’t work anyway; when i got the car the fuse was blown and i replaced it but it still doesn’t work.

i’ll check the fuses and everything else that you suggested, thanks guys!

Certainly sounds like electrical, I would make a behind dash inspection, but only remove easy stuff like the radio,behind glove box. Really something has to have stopped working. I wonder if it was the power for the DLC (data link connector).

The only non-electrical thing I can think of is if the evaporator let go and the cloud was refridgerant. Does the AC blow cold?

Not related to your oil change interval. If you a using a number that relates to your driving conditions you are doing well.

I suggest you check all fuses, relays, and fusible links.

And if you find one blown or tripped, DON’T replace or reset it. until you have found the cause of it going out to begin with or you could be looking at a real fire. Fuses and relays generally don’t go bad, they just give up their lives to protect your car when some other part goes bad.

Check your cigarette lighter if the car has one. I purchased a used Ford Maverick and for some reason the cigarette lighter element made contact and stuck in the well when I hit a bump. I had the same smoke you had. The cigarette lighter was in the ashtray. I clipped the wire, taped the end and that solved the problem.

Does the cabin heater/AC blower motor work on all speeds and blow a normal amount of air?

Possibly a blower motor going bad or a blower resistor going out.
Another possibility is something falling into the ductwork (through the defroster vent), landing on the resistor, and becoming incinerated instantly. Those blower resistors will run red hot.