Reader Question: A Smell That Won’t Go Away?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply! 

Christine asks: My 2011 Hyundai smells terrible. I have tried so many ways to get rid of the smell that I can’t think of anything else to try. The smells is a stale odor, not rotten eggs but stale and a little chemically. I’m at my wits end. Any suggestions?

My reply: Is the smell new? If so, something happened. The question now is what. You didn’t mention whether your car has a sunroof so I’ll start by suggesting you feel around the perimeter of the roof for signs of wetness. Your sunroof may be leaking. Or rather, the drain holes might be clogged. Open the roof and look at each of the four corners. You should see an open drain hole. If any are clogged shut, the water will find its way into the car and it’ll smell.

Another place is to feel is around the floorboards – if they’re wet you may have a clogged AC duct/drain or a leaking heater core. The latter will be more apparent by the smell – and the film. If you have any hazy/sticky film on the windshield near the defroster outlets, it is probable you have a leaking heater core and that calls for prompt fixing regardless of the smell. Because the leak will get worse- and may even get really bad. As in dumping hot coolant into your car’s interior.

Please keep us posted!

. . .

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  1. Seeing a title about a smell that won’t go away, I first thought it was about the white supremacist peckerheads that keep popping up here! Reminds me of a joke that Hitler is reputed to have told: “My dog has no nose! How does he smell?… Terrible!”

    As Eric says, especially given the chemical smell, the heater core is a possible trouble spot. Another possibility is if the HVAC drain tubes are clogged up. These can clog with small pieces of tree debris that work their way into the the HVAC air intake. If that happens water will pool in the air plenum and can make all kinds of interesting smells.

    Nunz’s point about possible enemies is well taken! Check for dead fish under the seats! 🙂

    • “How come homies lean to the right when they drive?”
      “They think the smell is coming from outside!”

      Oh, I missed the “chemical smell” part. Good chance [but pray not!] that there’s an oil or tranny fluid leak- that stuff can waft and linger…specially if it’s dripping onto warm engine parts or the exhaust. Xtine, Sniff around under the hood and see if ya smell the smell……

    • Overpowered by the Zionist apologist that pops up. Jason, don’t you get TIRED of continually TROLLING this site? If not, this I’ll give ya….GREATER persistence than I likely ever would have!

      As for unfathomable car smells…it helps about once a year to yank the seats if you have a bad habit of EATING or DRINKING in the car. Better to just NOT do that, which in my new ride (2020 “Con”Fusion) I don’t, but in my old truck, which reeks of grease and leaky exhaust anyway, it just mixes in. It’s amazing how many times I’ve cleaned out one of my old rides, or someone elses, and found fossilized french fry fragments, burger bits, and gunk from lord knows what manner of sugary drinks. One of #1 son’s rides, an old Toyota Corolla (which recently “crossed the veil” and was met by his ol’ 1992 Hyundai Excel) was so bad I labelled it “Joe’s Apartment” on wheels.

      • Hey Doug, how’s it going! I am not a “Zionist apologist” – Zionism is merely the idea that Jews should live in Israel for either religious or political reasons, or both. Nothing to “apologize” for there. Any other definition is primarily the product of a despicable contingent of bigots pushing a collectivist view of humanity based on ethnicity. Serious Jew-haters and other malicious bigots have twisted the concept of “Zionism” into a near-magical bogeyman-style catchword carrying all manner of manufactured, eeeevil, taken-for-granted meaning for others of the same mindset. (It’s funny that these bigots typically want to send the Jews all back to Israel, thus fulfilling the core concept of Zionism! Just one of the many bizarre contradictions in their addled belief system.)

        I’m not “trolling” here either. I simply love tweaking the noses of white supremacists/aryan warriors, bigots of all kinds; dumping on their asinine belief systems and trivially-disproved “facts”. As a sideline, I have accounts on many of the major white supremacist sites and can stir those guys up with tales of nonsensical Jewish conspiracies manufactured from whole cloth with the best of ’em. So in those places your “trolling” description may be appropriate.

        I’ve been studying these kind of guys for decades as one might do with a loathesome kind of insect that one’s sight is somehow drawn to. (Hey, everyone needs a hobby.) Everything I say in response to “aryan” chowderheads is factual even if couched in a sneering and derisive manner. (Their beliefs are worthy only of derision and scorn, and I do my best to deliver.) My characterization of the people who adopt such vile bigotry is based on many years of personal experience.

        Bear in mind that unlike a person’s ethnicity where one has no choice in the matter, one chooses to be a bigoted asshat, blaming others for the same crimes (real or imagined) that their “own kind” are guilty of. It is a choice that begs to be dealt with in an appropriate manner. I do try.

        I never expected I’d be running into such characters on a libertarian web site of course. It’s certainly not what I originally came here for. Virtually everything they “know”, aside from being wrong, is totally antithetical to libertarian philosophy. But they do pop in here with their nonsense and I have a grand ol’ time with them when they do.

  2. Had a nasty rotted food stink in a minivan I once had. It started after I had carted my little nephews (all 8 years or younger at the time) somewhere. So i figured it was something that one of them abandoned somewhere in the van. Only problem, I couldn’t find it!!

    Turns out one of the little stinkers stuck it in the tire iron storage compartment all the way in the back. They even put the cover back on it. The smell finally dissipated after that.

    I don’t allow eating in the car anymore.

  3. Heya Nunz,

    You being Eyetaian, The story would pack more punch if it went like this: “I had a Town Car years ago that started smelling, and it got really bad- turned out to be Guido’s head that had escaped the body bag in the trunk and rolled into an out-of-the-way place where it eventually started rotting”.


  4. Check the trunk/cargo area/nooks & crannies for any food items/perishables that may have decided to play stowaway! I had a Town Car years ago that started smelling, and it got really bad- turned out to be a cantaloupe that had escaped the grocery bag in the trunk and rolled into an out-of-the-way place where it eventually started rotting.

    If you can sniff around and track down the general area the stench seems to be coming from, you might be able to get some clues. e.g. a mouse or something might’ve gotten under the hood or into the venting and croaked, where it is now decomposing.

    Have any enemies? I knew a guy (a mechanic, no less) who wanted a little mild revenge on someone who was always abusing his kindness….so he put some fecal matter down the defroster vents of the dude’s car!


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