Consumer Reports: Getting rid of funky car smells

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The experts at Consumer Reports reveal some easy ways to root out those pesky smells.

Does your car smell musty or funky or just plain bad no matter how many times you go to the car wash or how many air fresheners you buy?

You are not alone. The experts at Consumer Reports reveal some easy ways to root out those pesky smells.

The dog, the kids, and maybe even the compost often mean a trip to the car wash. But sometimes that's just not enough to get rid of unpleasant smells once and for all.

"It can be very tough to figure out why a car smells so bad. There are so many vents and crevices in your car where odors can hide and thrive," said Jon Linkov.

"The first thing I look at when a customer comes with a smelly car, is look into the cabin filter," said mechanic Satoshi Fukunaga.

One obvious place to look and smell are the dashboard vents. If that area is the problem see if there is debris like leaves in the cabin filter. Clear it out and if that works, great. If not, installing a new cabin filter can really help. They're not very expensive and you can probably do it yourself.

"You can also try spraying a professional grade vent and duct cleaner to get rid of any fungi that may have taken a foothold in a vent," Linkov said.

Moisture in and under carpet mats can also cause odor problems. Carpet cleaners can help, but for tougher smells you may need to get professional steam cleaning.

And don't forget the sunroof. There are small drainage holes on the sides which sometimes get clogged allowing water to seep into the roof's liner or even drip onto the seats. A quick vacuum of that area can solve that problem.

If none of these fixes work, you may need to have your mechanic check for more serious problems with the climate system.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumerreports.org
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