Peanut butter interior smell. Where is it coming from???

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Care, Maintenance & Troubleshooting' started by Big Thirsty, Sep 20, 2021.

  1. Big Thirsty

    Big Thirsty New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2021
    5
    0
    0
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Vehicle:
    2011 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    Alright guys. Here’s one for you. I’ve got a 2011 Prius 3 with a bad interior smell and I can’t figure out where it’s coming from. First, it smelled “earthy” and now it smells like peanut butter. You can’t smell anything outside when the doors are closed. When I open any of the doors, the smell hits me like a wall.
    First, I pulled everything out of the hatch to see if there was evidence that I was leaking water under and pooling under the spare tire. Nothing.
    I brought it to the dealership. They pulled down the headliner and checked some interior panels. Nothing. They gave it a hose down to see if there was leaking and if all of the drains were clear of debris and working. Nothing.
    Then, I brought it to get detailed. Full interior wipe, vacuum, and shampoo. Then an ionizer for a few hours. Nothing. If anything, it smelled a little worse.
    I read about how the problem could be a dirty A/C condenser so I bought the kit and the dealer performed the A/C refresh. Nothing.
    I’m at the end of my rope, guys. I’ve spent over $400 and the car still smells like peanut butter and I don’t know how to fix it or even where to look next. Any suggestions?
     
  2. tankyuong

    tankyuong Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2012
    1,370
    598
    0
    Location:
    Central MO
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius c
    Model:
    II
    Did you check the air cabin filter
     
  3. Big Thirsty

    Big Thirsty New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2021
    5
    0
    0
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Vehicle:
    2011 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    Yes. The dealer replaced it last week.
     
  4. rjparker

    rjparker Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2008
    3,891
    2,018
    2
    Location:
    Texas Hill Country
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius v wagon
    Model:
    Three
    Ionizer or ozone generator? Ozone usually does the job. I would hope they checked the cabin filter when they did the evaporator cleanup.
     
  5. Big Thirsty

    Big Thirsty New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2021
    5
    0
    0
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Vehicle:
    2011 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    Yep. The ionizer was in the car for a few hours after they detailed it, so I'm told. But I don't know if they used an ozone generator. I'll research about the difference between that and an ionizer.
    Also, they replaced the cabin air filter a week ago.
     
  6. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    94,276
    42,727
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    i wonder if a mouse dragged in some bait
     
  7. JC91006

    JC91006 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2013
    14,941
    7,643
    0
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    V
    Was this car ever in a flood?
     
  8. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    94,276
    42,727
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    of peanut butter?
     
  9. Big Thirsty

    Big Thirsty New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2021
    5
    0
    0
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Vehicle:
    2011 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    No. For the first 36,000 miles, it was in Arizona. Now it has 42,000 miles and lives in Boston, but it has never been flooded.
     
  10. JC91006

    JC91006 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2013
    14,941
    7,643
    0
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    V
    The interior bits are not very hard to strip out. Remove everything including the hatch area, seats, and carpet. Do a thorough cleaning and then let the car bake in the sun for a few hours. Open the doors and take a deep breath, see if you get a whiff of fresh air afterwards
     
  11. Big Thirsty

    Big Thirsty New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2021
    5
    0
    0
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Vehicle:
    2011 Prius
    Model:
    Three
    Yeah. The car smells like peanut butter now. It's smelled bad for a couple of months. At first, it smelled differently, sort of earthy. I can't put my finger on what it smelled like before. The smell has changed and for the past month or so, it smells like peanut butter. I can't figure it out.

    I feel pretty confident about removing the seats, but I'll have to watch a video about removing the carpet. I'll try that this weekend.
     
    #11 Big Thirsty, Sep 20, 2021
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 20, 2021
  12. tankyuong

    tankyuong Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2012
    1,370
    598
    0
    Location:
    Central MO
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius c
    Model:
    II
    Maybe the mechanic was eating peanut butter and had it all over his hands when he installed your cabin filter
     
    Henrik Helmers and bisco like this.
  13. burrito

    burrito Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2021
    231
    84
    0
    Location:
    California
    Vehicle:
    2015 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    Sounds like mold.

    Take the car to one of those places that specializes in mold removal in homes, and ask them to check out your car. If they confidently say, "Yeah, this car smells like mold," then you can at least be pretty sure you know what the problem is. If so, they may be able to help you tackle it.
     
  14. fotomoto

    fotomoto Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2009
    5,389
    3,617
    0
    Location:
    So. Texas
    Vehicle:
    Other Hybrid
    Have you considered asking Lil’ Thirsty?

    33E9039F-A432-4689-A35D-9B2F6A75633A.jpeg


    Serious question: Have you had COVID? I’m a breakthrough case and my smell o’ meter is completely out of wack even months later.
     
  15. Rebound

    Rebound Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2010
    3,903
    2,508
    0
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    I removed the carpet. You don’t need to remove the carpet to solve this problem. No way. The seats? Definitely. Very easy. Pull the 12V battery ground first, then move the seat back, remove the two front bolts, move it forward, remove the two rear bolts. Then you rock the seat backwards, and remove the two or three electrical connections. Each is unique and they are keyed, so you cannot accidentally reconnect them wrong.

    With all three seats out… try the smell test again. Now you know if the problem is in the seats or in the carpet. If it’s the rear bench, you can scrub that thing down with a garden hose. The front seats have air bags so you can’t be quite as aggressive, but you can use a lot of soap and water on them.

    If the interior still smells after you remove the seats and you shampoo the carpet, you need to pull panels. First take out the spare tire and all the stuff around it, then the plastic pieces near the rear battery. Animals can enter and nest near the 12V battery, so that’s the first place I’d look if the smell is in the back. If it’s in the front, pull the cabin filter and reach into the fan, which is like a basket, and see if anything’s fallen into it. You have to do this by feel. That would be the first place where something can enter.

    Most plastic molding inside a Prius is easy to remove with a trim tool, but start with pulling the seats, see if the smell follow the seats or not, then if needed, shampoo the carpet. You can solve this.

    When I pulled my entire carpet out, I filmed it, but I haven’t edited it yet. So if you need more help, let us know.
     
    #15 Rebound, Sep 21, 2021
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2021
Loading...