Take the 2-minute tour ×
Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for mechanics and DIY enthusiast owners of cars, trucks, and motorcycles. It's 100% free, no registration required.

We recently purchased a used minivan and it wasn't until we got it home and let it sit overnight that we noticed there was a distinct smell to the interior. The smell is not offensive but it is not welcoming either.

What are the best methods to remove smells from the interior of a vehicle?

share|improve this question
1  
What does it smell like? Cigarette smoke? Mildew? –  Larry Jun 28 '11 at 20:10
    
It smells like cleaning supplies and a faint hint of cigarette smoke. –  Scott Jun 30 '11 at 17:05
1  
I don't understand why this question was closed for being off topic. Vehicle Maintenance and repair is more than just the outside of the cabin. –  Scott Jun 30 '11 at 17:07
    
this question has been discussed on meta meta.mechanics.stackexchange.com/questions/110/… –  Jeff Atwood Jul 9 '11 at 0:27

4 Answers 4

I successfully used some Griot's "Odor Exterminator" to remove a smell from my new-to-me car just this weekend. It was some sort of sweet-ish chemical smell, either from something the previous owners spilled or from something the dealer used to clean it.

share|improve this answer

Some tips:

  1. Probably obvious, but a thorough cleaning of the car is always in order! Wipe down all surfaces and vacuum the carpets. Be comprehensive, and check for any sources of odor while doing so (spills, stains, etc).

  2. If the odor is coming from the carpets or upholstery, an even more thorough steam cleaning of the interior surfaces might be in order. Steam cleaning machines use hot water to lightly soak the surfaces (with some shampoo) then draw it away. It's a lot more work, but it is a better deeper clean.

  3. Use a car deodorizer product and follow the recommended instructions on the tin. Note that wildly spraying it on every surface isn't necessarily the way to go; you may need to specifically treat the internals of the AC and heating systems by spraying into their intakes while they are running. Odors can get trapped in the AC and heating systems, too!

  4. If your car has a cabin air filter, look at replacing it.

If the smell still persists, you might want to look at a professional cleaning service that specializes in car odor removal.. they can do things like high ozone shock treatment.

share|improve this answer

I recently bought a car with three air fresheners in it that made it smell awful (to me). I bought two Fridge-It® odor absorbers and hung them in different parts of the car, and aired it out as often as possible, and the odor went away. I also changed the cabin air filter, and the new one had a black coating which I assume is charcoal for odor absorbing.

share|improve this answer

I have been really sucessful with Auto Shocker (It used to be called Auto Vaccine). It's a odor eliminator and it really penetrates the upholstry to get rid of odors. I used it all the time, between dogs and athletic children my car stink a lot. You should give it a try, it's my favorite. You can find it at http://www.biocidesystems.com/auto3hslanding.html

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.