Smelly Cars - Rod Maxwell
I was wondering if anyone had any tips about improving the smell of car interiors.

My car seems to be developing a musty stale smell, particularly on a hot day. I've tried airing it out and I've attacked the upholstery with a bottle of Febreze but it still gets this stale air smell back after a while.

I did have one of those pine-tree type air fresheners but I found that they were rather over-powering. Are there any "tricks of the trade" that second hand car dealers use to make their vehicles more fragrant?

What is the smell? - David Woollard

Cars should have a neutral smell unless something is adding to their aroma. Have you a dog? Could there be a small water leak making part of the carpet/underfelt wet? Could the heater matrix be leaking into the carpet?

You could try a good vacuum then a foaming cleaner on the seats/carpets in case of dirt buildup.

Otherwise test all the air freshners and select the least offensive.

Smell Story: Few years ago Mary went to the Chinese Take-Away in my Land Rover and collected a large order. On arriving home one container was missing, she phoned them but they refused to believe this. So she took the whole meal back, banged it on the counter and got a full refund (with argument).
Some weeks later I thought there was a strange smell in the LR and had a good sniff round. This "missing" meal was in the container just slipped between the seat box and the floor, all varieties of mould were present on the ghastly mess inside.
Boy did we laugh......never dared to go back to that take-away again!

Re: What is the smell? - Rod Maxwell
Thanks for that. I'll check for leaks because it does have that damp smell to it.

I did have a problem last year because a bottle of red wine broke in the boot and the contents (75 cl) just "disappeared". I think some ended up in the rear seat cushion so I took this out and washed it separately and I scrubbed the carpets in the boot and under the rear bench. Even so, it smelled for weeks afterwards but this did eventually subside.

The other possibility is that I took several loads of garden rubbish down to the tip and some of this was wet but I was very thorough when cleaning the car afterwards. The answer to that would be to hire a van for the afternoon but then you can get charged a fortune for dumping it (as I discovered when I tried to get rid of a local fly-tipper's handywork).
Re: What is the smell? - Andrew Tarr
I would back up David W's suggestion about the sound insulation (under the fitted carpet). I have had a 205 with a damp smell, where the stuff had been saturated for some time - only solution was to strip it all out and renew it. This may mean removing weatherstrip round doors, all seats and lower seatbelt anchorages, but it could make a big difference.
Re: What is the smell? - Jon Shread
Try Magic Tree - New Car air freshener. Nothing like a new car but not that unpleasant.

Think yourself lucky, my father once tipped a whole bottle of milk over the floor of a Vauxhall Viva van (a long time ago obviously) and boy what a smell!
It never went away.

Good luck.
Re: Cow juice - Stuart B
I posted this in another thread relating to David Woollards mobile ex-Alsatian kennel and the smells/objects therein, but it is appropriate to this thread also so apols for a reprise.

remember a mate bought a Mk2 Cortina estate which had been used as a milk float, boy was it cheap, man did it honk, never ever got rid of the smell of sour milk.
Re: What is the smell? - Jonathan
i would recommend neutradol

it doesn't add some sickly smell, it (apparently) deodorises.
Re: Smelly Cars - Adrian
Have you got air-con and been using it in this hot weather? If so its a likely cause of the stale musty smell you describe. It's caused by water residue trapped in the system and bacteria growing in it.

You can buy a can of air-con deodarising spray made by Wynns. Basically you turn the air-con off, put ventilation on recirculate and full blower and spray the contents of the can into the interior air INLET. The liquid is supposed to kill off the bacteria and deodarise the system. I used it on my car and it works a treat.

Re: Improving smells - Stuart B
You need to ask my missus about this, if you believe her she reckons I am as much problem to global warming as George W. However the problem apart from the odd trouser cough is that we also find is that the fresheners are just too much.

So it might sound a bit extreme but the solution we adopt is to fairly regularly give the upholstery and carpets a thorough thrashing with a Vax Wet & Dry cleaner. The smell of the cleaner additive is........, well it just smells clean if you get my drift.
Re: Improving smells - Nick Ireland
I know from bitter and smelly experience that damp car carpet underfelt smells like a dead dog! I had a Sapphire that had water in the rear footwells after heavy rain. It was parked on a slight up slope and water was getting from the windscreen down into the engine bay and then draining along the clutch and/or speedo cables which had faulty grommets, in the main bulkhead. A good squirt of mastic sealant soon fixed that, although its smell was nearly as bad as the dead dog, for a day or two. If it is water in the car check the cables and pipes thru the bulkhead and perhaps the sunroof drain holes too, if you have one
Re: Improving smells - Nicholas Moore
Make sure that you do the Vaxing on a dry day to avoid the aforementioned musty smells.

A spray of Autoglym Autofresh on the upholstery works a treat. If you have leather, just spray the footwell carpets.
Hidden Food Residues - Guy Lacey
Dave Lacey of HJ "fame" once found a rotten 4-month old Ginsters Pasty in the glove box of his Audi-A4 due to his other half's eating habits.

It certainly wasn't standard fit and did not lend itself to perfuming the car as Audi had hoped.
Re: What is the smell? - Dai Watchalowski
Stripped out a V/W Gti once, took out the back seat and carpets (to re-route some after market speaker wire) found not one but two German labelled tofees
under the seat. Hard as nails but not an unpleasant smell when melted by heater me thinks.

Spilt a pint of milk in a T5 - still went like stink
Re: What is the smell? - Ian Cook
A mate once left a pack of butter on the back seat of his VW Beetle, and it melted. The stench was worse than milk and he never got rid of it (the smell, not the car).

On the subject of water in footwells (or in the boot, for that matter) It might be worth adopting the strategy of simply letting it out. I've done this on several older cars (They were BL, but don't hold that against me - I was poor once). A couple of holes drilled at the lowest point usually works.
Re: What is the smell? - Chris
When I got married my "mates" covered the car with fresh cream rather than the usual shaving foam. The cream ran down inside the doors and stayed there while me and the missus drove to the south of France. Believe me, fresh cream plus 35 degrees do not mix. It was awful. Add to this the fact that this was a one litre Metro and the heater had to be on all the time to keep the engine under the red mark on the temp gauge, and you have the worst 1500 miles of all time. Sold the car a couple of weeks later after emptying a can of air freshener into the door panels. I wonder how long it was before the smell came back.

Re: What is the smell? - Brian
Wynn's freshner in the inlet sounds like a good idea for air conditioning.
Only problem:-
Where do I find the interior air inlet on a pug 405 please?. i.e. How much of the dashboard/interior needs dismantalling to get to it?.
Re: What is the smell? - Adrian

Haven't a clue!. I had difficulty finding the inlet on my Ford Puma. The instuctions seem to suggest the air inlet is usually located in the footwell. On my car I eventually located it above and behind the glovebox. I did this by listening to the fan noise and sticking my hand up to feel the air going in but it is difficult to determine if its sucking or blowing. I managed to confirm by letting a small piece of tissue paper be sucked in!.

You get a long flexible tube with it so it should be possible to spray into awkward places but I must admit to being nervous discharging the entire contents of the can into somewhere I couldnt see! . It obviously worked though because the bubbles came out of the vents and the musty cheesy smell was relaced with a far more pleasant odour.

Good luck

Re: Smelly Cars - Paul
Not particularly useful but I once had a passenger "follow through" during a particularly optimistic overtaking manouvre. Took ages to get rid of the whiff and eventually I had to sell the car. Last time I give that free-loader a lift!

Value my car