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I park my 2006 Toyota 4Runner outside, and, after it rains, the inside of my car smells badly. i suspect that the moisture causes mildo. That said, I have two questions:

  1. How do I eliminate the odor?
  2. How do I prevent this from happening?
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I suspect your air vents are full of mildew that moistens and thus reactivates when it rains. The other possibility would be a leak where rain is getting into the cabin, but you would probably notice that.

If it is the air vents, I don't know a good way to fix it. When I had this problem, I sprayed Lysol into the vents from both inside and outside, but that left me with a hideous chemical smell in place of the mildew smell for the next few months. It did mostly clear up the problem, though. I suspect there are better cleaners that will kill the mildew without sticking around with their own smells for a long time, but I'm not sure what would be best.

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I have used hydrogen peroxide to remove odors from the air vents. Turn your air conditioner on full and pour some peroxide into the outside air intakes. Then turn the heater on full and pour in some more. Wait about 10 minutes and shut everything down.

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Outside air intakes - how do I locate these? What do they look like? – Throckmorton Q. Dirktwister Jun 24 '13 at 16:49
I think they're usually between the hood and the windshield. – R.. Jun 26 '13 at 0:21

Check for leaks. It's a rare car that doesn't have at least a small water leak somewhere. Larger ones lead to nasty smells and eventually rusted out parts. The floor padding can absorb a fair amount of water before it becomes visible on the carpeting itself.

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