Smells like something is dead when I first get in...

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Main Forum' started by jrode, Apr 2, 2019.

  1. jrode

    jrode New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2019
    9
    9
    0
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius
    Model:
    Four
    Over the weekend, I vacuumed, wiped down, and cleaned the inside of my Prius. I also used some Dawn dish soap and a rag to remove a stain in the trunk area.

    The next time I got in the car after doing so (the next morning), I noticed a really nasty smell when getting in. I haven't smelled a lot of dead things in my life, but it smells like something died. However, the odd thing is that the smell goes away when I get driving/get airflow going.

    Any ideas on what could be going on/where to check? I did a quick look under the hood yesterday and didn't see anything obvious. Since I just cleaned the car, there's nothing inside of it.

    Appreciate any suggestions.
     
  2. BZzap!

    BZzap! Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2012
    1,607
    869
    0
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    Typical of a dead rodent . Probably in the heater box. You might try removing the cabin air filter (behind the lower glove box door) and check it to see if there is any nesting material present.
     
  3. jrode

    jrode New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2019
    9
    9
    0
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius
    Model:
    Four
    Is the heater box something I can relatively easily check on my own? I checked the cabin air filter last night when I got home from work and it looked normal, in the sense that there wasn't any obvious signs of nesting material.

    The odd thing is that the smell almost completely goes away once I start the car and get driving. I had my girlfriend smell it this morning and she said she thought it smell more wet/musty than death. The only other thing I did that I thought maybe could have caused some kind of odor was taking a damp cloth to the dash and SofTex seats. Could it potentially be the seats that smell? It's really hard to pinpoint where the odor is coming from, especially since it goes away.
     
  4. alanman

    alanman Junior Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2016
    3
    0
    0
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Vehicle:
    2015 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    Could be mildew if the A/C runs a lot and the condensation drips and sits. After the next time, try running warm air without recirculation on for 5-10 minutes and it may dry it out and help.
     
  5. BZzap!

    BZzap! Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2012
    1,607
    869
    0
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    A musty smell is usually associated with a plugged up heater box drain. That’s a little rubber hose that is located in the lower left, forward corner of the housing, right next to the center console. If it becomes plugged it can trap water. Stagnation then occurs and a related musty smell. If you go on YouTube you can watch all kinds of videos to help you with a plan on how best to go about unplugging it. It’s not rocket science, just a little inconvenient. You also mention that the smell deminishes shortly after the car is driven. That is probably because that the heater housing ventilates when it’s running...especially if you have the HVAC set on “Outside Air”.
     
  6. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    98,593
    44,721
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    have you put your nose to the stain area? what exact area was it?
     
  7. jrode

    jrode New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2019
    9
    9
    0
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius
    Model:
    Four
    It's hard to pinpoint where it's coming from. The stain was just a grease spot from when I hauled my bike in the back recently.

    When I drove tonight, it seemed as though the scent was maybe not quite as bad. I'm going to drive the warm air recommendation above first and if I'm still smelling it, I'll check for a plug.
     
  8. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    98,593
    44,721
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    try some baking soda
     
  9. jrode

    jrode New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2019
    9
    9
    0
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius
    Model:
    Four
    The smelled seem to be less noticeable when I get in this morning to drive to work, but then again I'm pretty stuffy today. :LOL:

    However, if I had to pinpoint the smell, it does seem to maybe be coming from the passenger seat area. I'm starting to wonder if it is, in fact, a clogged drain tube in that area. I might try to check on that this weekend if the smell is still lingering.
     
  10. padroo

    padroo Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2008
    2,763
    2,244
    13
    Location:
    Chesterton, Indiana Another third world country.
    Vehicle:
    2016 Prius
    Model:
    Four
    When you checked the cabin filter did you inspect under where it is located. Might need a flashlight and a mirror.
     
  11. jrode

    jrode New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2019
    9
    9
    0
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Vehicle:
    2014 Prius
    Model:
    Four
    I did a quick look with the flashlight on my phone, but not a deep dive with a mirror. Any specific spot I should be looking in general?

    I'm kind of leaning towards it not being a rodent anywhere, as I feel like the smell would be getting worse and wouldn't go away when I get air flowing/drive around. But maybe that's a misconception? I am not that well-versed when it comes to vehicles.
     
  12. BZzap!

    BZzap! Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2012
    1,607
    869
    0
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    If the evaporator drain tube is plugged you may want to pull back the carpet under the glove box area and check for dampness and/or wetness. Sometimes the carpet and padding can get soaked from this condition.
     
  13. wr69

    wr69 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2014
    69
    39
    0
    Location:
    portland, or
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    II
    I realize this reply is many years late, but just adding to it, in case someone else hits this issue. the drain trough under the Prius G3 windshield wiper cowl is poorly designed. this lends to debris build up and eventually poor drainage, which could back up into the cabin, via the cabin air filter. Also, as others have mentioned, mice and rodents can crawl in this space under the cowl and cohabitate with their earth-friendly, soybean-based plastic parts, which Toyota uses in some areas.

    I have come to conclude that this cleaning should be on a regular maintenance schedule of 30k-60k miles, depending on where you live. Toyota never mentions it anywhere, which is another shame on Toyota, but I have cleaned these out on my cars, and they were simply gross. inch+ layers of organic matter and debris where rotting in there. it felt so good to remove the cowl and vacuum and flush that crap out of there.

    here are some instructions:

    removing prius gen three windshield wiper cowl - Google Search

    I'm also attaching some pics of the dirt in my 2013 (@ about 60-65k miles); and mouse-proofing mesh I installed.
     

    Attached Files:

    bisco likes this.
  14. nicoj36

    nicoj36 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2013
    250
    57
    0
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    II
    This only happened after you cleaned the trunk with dish soap? Most likely mildew. Get a charcoal bag absorber like this and leave in your car. https://a.co/d/1aLlnCV
     
Loading...