My car smells HELP!

My car smells when I get inside. I clean it on a regular basis so it isn't last weeks lunch. any suggestions on what it may be and how to fix it myself?


  • +10

    Possible moisture/water build up from the rain ?

    • Could be after all this rain we have been having, how can I fix it?

      • +24

        Get a new car


        • +13

          My car is proton Gen 2, i feel like that explains the boundaries of my budget 😂😂

          • +42


            My car is proton…

            Then definitely get a new car…

            • +4

              @pegaxs: its not a horrible first car it does the job plus i aint got the money to buy a new one

              • +1

                @Jax03: Get a new job.

                On a serious note go get it detailed by professionals, they will get to the cracks and nooks and use chemicals on the leather/fabric to deodorize.

              • @Jax03: if smeel like mold or musted get moisture absorber. then also if can one rain stop get car out in the sun. window open let it air then clean it after this. I was in Townsville in 2019 flood that what i did. Can i ask did you car get flood water inside of it?

          • +8


            Member Since
            55 min ago

            Btw, welcome ;)

            • @SF3: haha thnx

              • @Jax03: Mate you join ozbargain too late. If you have been checking deals here, seeing also those unpublished and insufficient quantity deals, you can surely afford a new car by now. XD

          • +13

            @Jax03: Did you win it on Wheel of Fortune?

          • +6

            @Jax03: An old Proton Gen 2… oh, well you are right, it does stink… !!
            …(Not just when you get inside)!

          • @Jax03: drive it off a cliff, get a new car

      • -1

        Windows down and let it air out I guess

        • -1

          Yeah as i was saying below, i put the windows down and air turn a/c on when i get in and it goes away however when i leave my car and come back 🤢

          • +5

            @Jax03: Turn a/c on to max with windows down, spray anti fungal spray (any disinfectant really) to the outside air inlets (just below the windscreen). Do the same with heater on. Worked for me.

            May be change the air filter, if you have not for a while

      • +16

        Put moisture absorbers in overnight - e.g.
        Just make sure you empty them if they are fill of water before your drive off with them too full as it turns into a bucket of water.
        Check for leaks in the back / boot at the bottom left and right under the carpet - may find wetness from a leak.
        If there is a rubber bung in the bottom and standing water, pull it out and leave it out to drain.

        Clean any wet smelly carpet with vinegar and/or baking soda or a proper carpet cleaner.

        The moisture absorbers are supposed to last weeks or months in a laundry or stored caravan etc - but I had an old leaky car that smelled and in wet weather they could almost fully absorb / turn to a bucket of water overnight to get rid of the excessive dampness sometimes. I'd also find safe places on dry days where I could park it in the sun with the windows down and back open (e.g. if I was close by at a park) to help kill off the damp / mildew.

        • +2

          +1 Damp rid

          Get a few cans of no-vac carpet cleaner and deodorizer, thoroughly spray every fabric surface in the car and get it nice and moist.

          After then load up the car with heaps of damprid containers and seal it up… prepare the be disgusted by the color of the water it draws out of the moist surfaces in your car.

          I had to do this once when I was younger and didn't have proper insurance and car got partially flooded up to the door sills and got a decent amount of water inside.

          One done open up the windows and dry it out thoroughly in the sun for a few days.

    • I noticed the same - smelled like cheese gone bad about 3 days into the last deluge. Now that it's sunny it's gone away pretty quickly.

    • Moisture entering the car would be very evident with water condensing on the windows inside the car.
      Also lift carpets and check the underlay.

  • -2

    First of all, what does it like?

    Damp? Food? Dead animal? After smell from using the AC? Perfume? Sweat? 💩?

    You could try this

    • Its kind of like a rotting egg smell, as I mentioned i clean it on a regular basis. it stinks when i get in then once i roll down the windows and A/C is on it goes away

      • +4

        Maybe something died under the bonnet?

        Or the person the car ran over still stuck to the bottom of your car…

        • No not that ive just cleaned my air filter and had a little inspection and could see anything

          • -1


            could see anything


            Police officer, that’s the evidence right there!

          • @Jax03: Cleaned your air filter? Do you mean the air filter that keeps dust out of your engine? That is nothing to do with smells inside your car.
            Or is it a model with a cabin filter (e.g. inside behind glove box?) and have you replaced / checked it?

            • @MrFrugalSpend: +1 cabin filter change here - altho OP did say when the AC is on and windows down the smell goes away, i thought a bad cabin filter would make the AC stink worse

        • +3

          this is possible, I've heard of mice getting into cars sometimes and just making mice smells generally but also dying under bonnet etc.

          • +1

            @MrFrugalSpend: 12v ultrasonic deterrent devices exactly for that, is what you do to prevent it. Connected to battery directly and placed in the engine bay somewhere (double sided tape)

      • +5

        We had this happen to us once and on opening the bonnet it was even worse. A bloke walking past straight away said it was the battery. He was right!

        • Yep, this can happen too. Relatively rare but it can happen.

    • He wouldn’t be complaining if it just smelled like chocolate whip icecream.

  • Kids bring in some dog poop on their shoes accidentally? (That has been the culprit more than once!)

  • +1

    I once had an orange and an apple wedged under the passenger seat. Smelt very fruity.

  • +5

    check the boot for a dead body?

    • 😂 I feel like id know if there was a dead body back there

      • +2

        Not if you've lost count of the number you'd disposed of …

    • +2

      aww dang, yeah, I hate it when that happens

  • +6

    You sure it's not your own B O?

    • Heck no! I am a very clean person who deodorises frequently

      • +2

        It's called olfactory adaptation, and it's the same reason you can’t smell your own breath, your body odor.

        • +2

          Its not a BO smell though its a eggy smell

        • +2

          well clearly it is not that because the OP is complaining about it - so must be able to smell it and find it pungent

  • +9

    A rotten egg smell is usually sulphur from a faulty or clogged catalytic converter. How many Ks has your car done?

    • About 115k, how would i fix this at home?

      • -1

        Take the exhaust off, you should find the bolts underneath the car ;). Then call it a EV.

      • +1

        type 'Scotty Kilmer how to clean catalytic converter or cat converter' into Youtube. There's the DIY way and the take it off and have it cleaned, then reinstalled.

    • Absolutely floored it took all those comments above before someone stated the answer. So much for OzMotoring… The catalytic converter gets replaced OP, at the exhaust shop, unless you really want to have a go at home.

      • Smells in the cabin. The egg fart stench you would smell coming from the exhaust. It's different.

      • Absolutely floored it took someone who didn't read the problem to think they know the solution to a problem that's not related to the 'solution'

        The problem is

        My car smells when I get inside.


        it stinks when i get in then once i roll down the windows and A/C is on it goes away

        So yes it is definitely the catalytic converter.
        Thread closed, everyone can go home now

  • +4

    Farted into the seat one too many times

    • baha nah dont think so

    • The first thing you do when you get back to your car is sit down….and relax….EVERYTHING. ;-)

  • +6

    Only real solution is to give it away…


    • +3

      Oh, this is isn’t even B.O. It’s beyond B.O. It’s B.B.O.

  • +1

    Could it be coming from the boot? Check under the boot floor where your spare wheel and tools are.

    • it seems more like the air vents then anything but ill try that

      • +2

        If air vents then I second Presence's suggestion below, and suggest to also put air system to recycled mode and spray into the passenger's foot well.

        You mentioned you checked air filter, but to be sure, is it the in cabin air filter and not just the engine air filter?

      • in that case - buy one of these, get UNDER your car and find the AC drain pipe. jam the tube as far as you can into the drain and empty out the can. leave for about 20-30min and then run your AC. it fixed my stank cabin and i bet it'll improve yours.

        car vent cleaner:

        video i got this from:

  • +6

    Turn on car, crank the AC then spray Glen 20 into the intake at the back of the bonnet. Change to all climate control modes (feet, head, etc, AC and heating).

    • ill try that thnx

      • +3

        Turn on the AC, put it on fresh air and max fan speed. Spray alcohol into the intake at the front of the windscreen for approximately 1 minute.

        I wouldn't use the car for at least 2-4 hours after this, with the windows open.

        To clean a heater core, you really have to spray directly onto it. Even better is to pull it out and clean it and then put it back in, if you don't want to just kill the crap on it and actually remove it.

        Make sure your AC drain pipe is actually draining under the car and not into the footwell… it will also make the car smell. Check the front footwells for dampness

        • omg thank you so much ill try this!

          • @Jax03: Silly me forgot to mention, you should take out the cabin filter before you do this, to do the job properly.

            *if it has one

          • +2

            @Jax03: Be sure to first check if your car has a cabin filter before doing this. If so, spraying things in will only saturate and destroy it, and be fruitless.

            I would find the root cause before doing anything. For sure, your nose can help better than OzB'ers!

            Sulfur smells (rotten egg gas) could be gases escaping the battery- did it run flat from little/short trip use, and/or is aged, so might be resisting charge and bubbling the gases in the cells? If under the bonnet these can be drawn into the cabin by the fan blower.

            If you decide it is the blower; and if using alcohol to clean it, be very aware that it is dangerous, and sparks may ignite it. You should exercise caution, and have a fire extinguisher handy. No one inside the car. Remember the blower (semi-insulated) motor produces sparks and could be an ignition source in the airflow.

            You need the atomised alcohol (isopropanol) to coat the fins in the condensor, to achieve anything. Then turn it off to let it soak/kill the mould. After a minute or so, turn it back on and spray more until saturated again. Then turn off and let it sit before using it. If any alcohol smell occurs it is still saturated and you should not drive the car until it has drained/dried completely.

            Bare in mine that this may not be the cause of your problem if the car smells damp once it has been locked up for a while.

            Maybe it is just a damp/mouldy cabin filter as water may have got into it. Most likely to be rain ingress around the doors and windows. Unless you have a sunroof, these are a major cause: Their drains block when parked under trees, and the water will overflow the edges of the assembly inside the roof. Often it leaks down the pilars into the carpet without you knowing.

            Have you had your windscreen replaced? Often they don't seal them properly and rain will seep in and dribble down into the front foot wells

            Door seals, depending on design can allow water into the floor carpet

            Trunk seals in hatchbacks… etc. Find where the water is- it can easily hide in the thick insulation under the carpet without being apparent from above.

            • @resisting the urge: Not going to destroy a cabin filter with ethanol on the filter, you could soak them in a bucket of ethanol and it'd evaporate and be just fine.

              The cabin filter will just stop the ethanol from getting around the dash airflow pathways.

              • +1

                @Bamboozle: Correct. I was thinking more of some other cleaning solution/mixture when I said that. Though technically activated charcoal will absorb any impurities, and/or other things mixed with the alcohol, (if it is not pure).

                There are a lot of A/C cleaners out there that have all kinds of things in them, after all.

  • +1

    How does it smell? Maybe it nose something is wrong with the car.

  • +5

    inspect and replace pollen filter: (sample link, you can search for cheaper)

    • I'm impressed the Proton actually has a cabin filter!

      Definitely should be replaced if it hasn't been.
      If you start spraying stuff through the vents it's just going to end up in the filter. If you want to spray stuff remove the filter first.

  • +1

    Maybe run a good ozone generator for a few minutes, making sure that there is plenty of air exchange, having your ac on to circulate the ozone throughout the nooks and crannies…

    My friend smoke in his car for years, but before sale I did the car for a short while and the smell was completely gone. Don't get me wrong, if you have a moisture issue or something like a dead rat that is still there you will get the smell back but otherwise this should help a lot. Just don't overdo it, 1 few minutes on a lower setting is all you need

    • +2

      Great idea. Ozone is toxic so follow the safety instructions!

  • Smelly car prank = prawns in hubcaps.

    The driver can never find it.

    • The cats in our street found it.

  • +1
  • Check all areas of carpet for moisture. You may have a water leak - might even just be water from your shoes, umbrella etc.

  • +2

    When I had a similar problem I took the vehicle to a car detailer and had all mats, seats etc deodourised and cleaned after trying lots of home remedies, only thing that worked for my, cost about $100 ish though.

  • +5

    My car smells when I get inside.

    May not be the car.

  • +1

    A/C filters can cause this

  • Possibly a number of causes: 1: Your vehicle leaks, soaking the carpets. 2: Your air vent pollen filters are filthy.

    Check for water within the vehicle, particularly after heavy rains.

    Pull out the air vent pollen filters and clean - and spray with a car deodorant.

  • +3

    SELL IT!

    Or do the Seinfeld thing and park in a dodgy neighbourhood and leave the keys in it.

  • +2

    My dog has no nose.
    Really? How does he smell?

  • +2

    My car once stank really bad for a month or two and I couldn't figure out why. It was a pretty overpowering stench that was just getting worse and worse and it got embarrassing to give people rides.
    Couldn't find anything that could explain it until I checked the spare tire in the boot.

    Turned out that mum had borrowed the car to go shopping, and some butter fell out of the bag, then somehow slipped under the floor mat in the boot and then melted down into the wheel well. Then just cooked there over time, a big pool of melted butter sloshed around all over the place.

    It wasn't fun to clean up

    • why couldnt she drop a lobster in there too ughh

  • +2

    This reminds me of a particular Seinfeld episode!

    • This reminds of a post that reminded me about a Seinfeld episode.

  • Could be you need to replace the air con gas or filters. Had that issue before and the smell can be similar to the smell of bad eggs.

  • +3

    Ive experienced bad smells in 2 different cars with 3 different causes:

    1. Smelly sock smelling coming from a/c. Fix: car shops sell a 'spray bomb' which is a large can which you 'set off' in the car. You leave the car running, all windows up, and the vents on full, for like 15 minutes. The spray bomb keeps going until it runs out, and cleans your vents of any mold build

    2. Hard acceleration on another car caused a rotten egg fart smell to start coming. The cause was some unburnt exhaust thing issue, which was a bit of a common issue with this type of vehicle based on a google search and forum results.

    3. Windscreen seal started to go, which let water in during heavy rain, this started to make the floor mats damp and smelly.

    Hope this helps!

    • +1

      Egg is usually a failed cat

      • +1

        Usually yes, however for this type of car, unfortunately not. Both my previous IS350 and current GS350 do it. Doesnt happen all the time however.

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