Burned by the Explorer

The Puzzler

RAY: This was sent in by Dave Satterfield. He writes:
It was an early fall evening when my wife drove our 1994 Ford Explorer about three blocks from home when it started making a great screaming noise and smoke was coming from under the hood.
My wife turned off the car and called me for help. I was home in my jammies but I  got in my car nonetheless and drove over there. Being the guy, I was obliged to open the hood and I tried to look for something wrong even though it was a dark and stormy night.
On a hunch I reached in and touched something that should have been cool but instead I got a second-degree burn on my finger.  Wounded and whimpering, I walked home while my wife continued her trip in my car! She left the Explorer smoking and smoldering by the roadside.
After getting ice on my finger, the pain subsided enough so that I could think straight. I walked back to the Explorer, adjusted something on the dashboard, started it up and drove it home with no problem.
What did I do?  And what was wrong with the car?

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