How to Get Rid of the Bad Smell Coming Out of Air Vents in Your Car

Written by allen moore
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The ventilation system in your car passes air from outside the vehicle into the passenger compartment through a series of ducts. At times, the intake area, usually located at the base of the windshield, can draw in water and debris. Once down in the vents, this flotsam and jetsam can moulder and begin to put off an undesirable odour. While there are many expensive ventilation system deodorant packages on the market, you can get rid of all but the most stubborn scents for less than £6.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • 1 can disinfectant spray (scented if desired)

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  1. 1

    Start your car.

  2. 2

    Set the environment control systems to blow air through all the vents. Turn off the recirculation feature in your car's environment control system, if so equipped, so that the fan starts pulling in air from the outside.

  3. 3

    Turn the fan to the highest setting.

  4. 4

    Spray a quick shot of disinfectant spray across the cowl area, located at the base of the windshield. Watch the Lysol mist and note where it draws into the vent system (often near the centre or passenger's side of the windshield).

  5. 5

    Spray a concentrated blast of disinfectant spray directly on the area where the air draws into the ventilation system, as noted in Step 4, for five seconds.

  6. 6

    Turn the fan down to the lowest setting. Repeat Step 5 and then immediately turn off the environmental control system. Turn the car off.

  7. 7

    Wait at least 15 minutes and turn the environment control system on once more. Note if the smell is gone; if not, repeat Steps 1 through 6.

Tips and warnings

  • If the smell persists after performing this procedure, take your vehicle to a certified repair facility and have the vent system inspected for the source of the smell, which might be a dead animal or other rotten organic material.
  • If you're trying to rid the ventilation system of a cigarette smell, purchase a glycolized air sanitiser to use prior to using the spray disinfectant.
  • If your vehicle has a cabin air filter, it's a good idea to replace it immediately after this procedure, as the filter medium may have odorants from the unwanted smell trapped in the filtration medium.

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