Ventilation system stinking :(

Discussion in 'Gen 4 Prius Main Forum' started by Chris Wolfgram, Nov 8, 2019.

  1. Chris Wolfgram

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    And what really sucks, is that its a brand new car, with that awesome brand new car smell (which actually comes from a long list of potentially hazardous chemicals, from off-gassing plastics ! but that's a whole other story)
    But I digress. So yea', it doesn't matter if I use air con, or heat, re-circulation, or fresh air, as soon as I turn on the ventilation system, it starts stinking. Not terribly strong, but just a slight musty smell like dirty socks. Fortunately, this will go away if I run the ventilation fan for 5 minutes or so, and I can speed it up, by cranking it up higher for a bit.

    Btw, I have had this exact same problem, with other vehicles..... but usually after 100K miles of delivering hot steamy pizzas. (nothing makes a car smell worse than pizzas)

    And I know the way to fix this.....
    So they sell this hard-core chlorine bomb that you set off in your sealed car with the fan on recirculate, for about 15 minutes, then hold your breath, turn the car off, quickly close it back up, and let it sit overnight.
    The down side is, it costs $30, plus there goes my new care smell, which I still enjoy when I first hop in the car. In fact, this stuff is so hard core, you cant even scent the car with any kind of air freshener for a week or two, as the residual chlorine will just eat it right up !

    Okay, of course the dealer acted all dumbfounded, like they had no idea what was causing this.... but of course, that I could bring it in and leave it with them. Oh sure, I don't need to work or anything :( Maybe they will help me pay my bills too ? But my real point is, I don't have any confidence they would be able to fix it.

    Oh, and I should add.... this is not something that has developed in the 3 weeks I've owned it, but rather, right from day 1 :(
     
  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    try turning off the a/c a few miles from destination, and run the fresh air on high. might help to throw in a charcoal cabin filter and some baking soda too.
     
  3. Chris Wolfgram

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    Yea, I thought about that too. Id just be surprised if it could filter out that smell on a single pass, and as I say, after 5 minutes or so (several passes through the ventilation system) it seems to clear itself out anyway ? Just really bugs me that this is happening in a brand new car ?

    Curious if I'm the only one who has ever had this problem ?
     
  4. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The other One Percenter.....

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    Not.
    Even.
    Close.

    If you have a garage, then you may want to consider leaving your windows open when you park at night.
    If not and you don't live in a demilitarized zone, you way want to consider vent visors and leaving your windows cracked at night.

    Some people turn off their A/C a minute or so before they arrive at their destination and switch the fan speed to high in order to normalize the temps inside your HVAC system.
    Otherwise?
    You have COLD plumbing in a hot car and even in arid climates this promotes condensation and plant growth, plus the normal people smells of eating, gym visits, etc that are trapped inside an small, sealed up space.


    Get a large dog or two small children and I promise you won't notice the A/C musty smell.
     
  5. Chris Wolfgram

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    TY ETC. No garage. This car sits on the street. I know what your saying is true. But the thing that gets me is, I can't imagine how this could have been an issue since day one ? It would seem to me that the funky smelling bacteria would take at least a few months to get established and start reproducing ?

    Like I said, I've had this in other vehicles too, but it took many months, sometimes more than a year, for it to start happening.

    On those vehicles, the chlorine bomb worked great and lasted for many months afterwards, but if my car was stinking from day one, I don't have much hope that the chlorine bombs would work much longer than it took for the chlorine to completely disipate (1-2 weeks) and that would not be worth $30....
     
  6. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    how many miles on her when you bought it? maybe she saw a lot of a/c use previously.

    i agree, it usually takes some driving to get that nice musty smell
     
  7. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The other One Percenter.....

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    Warm.
    Dark.
    Moist.

    Plus....some of the plastics in Toyota cars are supposed to be plant based instead of icky old petrol.
    Whether or not this is true or has any effect on your biological experiment is anyone's guess and it doesn't really matter.

    I would try varying the modes of your HVAC system and see if you can create a less hospitable environment for the plants inside your vent system.
    Maybe turn the temp inside your car the same as the outside a little bit before you shut down the car..
    The idea is to keep condensation from forming deep inside your car behind the dash inside those dark ducts.

    As long as you're single I would continue to be (vainly) anal about the interior cleanliness of your car.
    Consider also vent visors and leaving windows cracked.

    Over a period of time, your new car is going to get to be your old car and if you're smart and young, you will eventually learn that there is a very liberating feeling that comes from driving a car that has a little more character for a longer period of time than some bank-owned car that you're still making payments on that you feel you have to grieve over every little scratch and blemish over.

    I used to be you.
    Which means....
    Someday....you're gonna be me.

    Yeah.
    I know....
    #okboomer.

    But here's the thing.
    We boomers are the original hippies.
    We all eat plant based now, and since we were the original health geeks, and we still have decent health care we're gonna live a looooooooong loooooooong time!

    Better plan for that!

    Meanwhile
    Relax and enjoy the car. ;)
    Warts and all.

    Good Luck with the plants.
     
    #7 ETC(SS), Nov 8, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
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  8. Chris Wolfgram

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    Brand spanking new.... They had to drive it from a town a little bit down the road, so it had 1 trip of about 50 miles on it...
     
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  9. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    very odd. maybe mold grew in the system while sitting on the lot.

    dealers have a special cleaning system. (not the chlorine bomb) i would ask for a freebie
     
  10. alanclarkeau

    alanclarkeau Senior Member

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    That's odd - for the first time, mine did smell a month ago after I'd carted ½ dozen bags of manure - next day I realised I should have left the windows open for a while. But before that, no smells. But that odour cleared after 2x 50km trips.

    Do you still carry PIZZAs? As you said, they do tend to permeate a car - and don't smell like PIZZA after being locked up for a day or 2 in the sun. My son was carrying them in his first car for a while - and it took a month or 2 for that smell to dissipate after he stopped.
     
  11. sam spade 2

    sam spade 2 Senior Member

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    Post #2 in this thread seems to have disappeared.

    Sometime during it's life, the car may have sat under a tree where leaves and other debris collected in the air intake just in front of the windshield. Also a rodent could have made it's way inside and died. :eek:

    I think you really should leave it with the dealer for a few days, while you have a loaner.
    There might be an easy fix......and this would be a good test of their service department.......to see if they actually find and fix the problem or just try to cover it up.

    I actually had a home system that stunk when brand new.
    Eventually they replaced the evaporator and the problem went away.
    Something was wrong with the manufacturing process and it smelled whenever it got wet.
     
  12. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    i can see post #2, are you ignoring the user?
     
  13. Chris Wolfgram

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    Well, you might be a little older than me... But I'm 55... So I have a little experience
    I've owned about 15 vehicles, and put a total of over 1 million miles on them.... But this is my 5th brand new vehicle.
    I always drive them until they are almost ready to throw away.

    My truck is my baby though She is 12 yo, with only 64K miles on her :)
    NO pizzas on this car ! I made surprisingly good money doing that, but it totally made my car smell like a rotten food dumpster !
    I had to get a complete professional deep shampoo after that + do the chlorine bomb for the havac system. Fixed it though...
    For about 6 months then the vents started stinking again.

    But with my brand new car that I have not carried any hot steaming food in, this should not be happening !
     
  14. alanclarkeau

    alanclarkeau Senior Member

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    No, not on a brand new car.

    Like your PIZZAs, I bought a car when I was young which had been owned by a smoker - I assumed (wrongly) that the smell would go away - but no matter how thoroughly I scrubbed it, park it in the sun and the stench of the previous owner pervaded it yet again.

    Maybe it is time to contact TOYOTA?
     
  15. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The other One Percenter.....

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    Well well....
    More fool me.

    Sounds like you're doing it right with the cars if you're keeping them that long.

    They make some sort of spray duct and vent cleaner that you can spray into the vent system.
    Don't know how it works but here's a link.

    A/C Pro No Scent Odor Absorber 10 oz. Aerosol - Ace Hardware

    There's also about 10,000 YouTube links.

    Let us know if you find a way to beat the smell.

    Good Luck!
     
  16. Chris Wolfgram

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    Yea, I've used those duct spray products too (on older cars that had this same problem). They work for a couple weeks, then start stinking again.
    Think I might have to give Toyota a crack at it.... But if they can't fix it, I'll just have to sacrifice the new car smell, and chlorine bomb it.
    It will then smell like a public swimming pool for a few days.... Then zero smell of any kind for a few weeks... Even if you try to use air fresheners, it will just strip it right out of the air !
    I feel like Toyota should pay the $30 for that though....
     
  17. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The other One Percenter.....

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    Turn it in on a warranty claim.
    All they can do is say no.....
     
  18. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    You use this car to haul rideshare, right? Passengers leaving things behind?

    All it takes is a leaky fresh water bottle. Passenger might not even realize they leaked. No matter where it comes from, a pint of water ignored in the carpet of a car footwell can give a musty smell before long.
     
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  19. sam spade 2

    sam spade 2 Senior Member

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    And I feel like it definitely is a warranty claim......and if they can't fix it, a "lemon law" claim might be in order.
    Unless, of course, you are the only one who can smell the odor or the only one who thinks it's objectionable.
     
  20. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    someone left the o without the b?
     
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