Four Issues That Cause a Musty Car Odor and How to Deal with Them

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Many people learn how to drive a car before they own one. But when you finally become a car owner, you realize there are responsibilities such as regular maintenance and inspection to add to your schedule. Even if you take reasonable care of your vehicle as you drive around Utah, you need to go to a local service in Salt Lake City for car detailing at least twice a year, for instance.

Busy people can sometimes skip regular car cleaning. When you notice a musty or unpleasant odor inside your car, it’s a sign that some maintenance needs to be done. Here are four common causes and how you can fix them.

Air conditioner issues

If you notice that the musty smell only seems to come up when the AC is switched on, then it could indicate some damage that may have led to the growth of mold or bacteria. A clogged filter or excess water dripping from the AC will create favorable conditions for growth – and a most unfavorable odor. Clean the AC with an antibacterial cleaning solution and make sure the drain tube works appropriately. You may also need to disinfect or replace the filter.

Leaky door or trunk seals

Damp smells indicate the presence of moisture, and sometimes this can be traced to a leak in the weather stripping. Even if you don’t see any actual water leaks, gaps in the seal can allow air transfer – and with it, moisture content. The trunk should also be inspected – the area where your spare tire is stored is seldom attended and may have water pooling in it.

If you’ve ever had to tear chunks of ice off your door in the cold Utah winters, this could have caused enough damage to create gaps in your weather stripping. Replacements are easy to obtain from your dealer; see to it that you regularly wash and condition the seals as part of your cleaning routine. And during the winter, a silicone spray helps prevent ice from sticking.

girl driving

Wet carpeting and upholstery

Moisture may not need a persistent leak to get inside the car and cause unpleasant odors. If there’s been a lot of rain or snow lately, there may have been several instances when a passenger entering or exiting the vehicle has also been accompanied by a significant amount of precipitation. Passengers themselves can be responsible for the occasional spilling of water onto seats or carpets.

If neglected, all that moisture can quickly lead to a musty smell, so take out your carpets and upholstery, wash it and apply some baking soda. If any mold has formed, scrub it off and spray the area with an anti-fungal solution. Vacuum the interior dry and leave the carpets and upholstery to hang in the sunlight for a few hours.

Clogged sunroof drain

The sunroof of a car is sealed against the weather, and water in this area should exit through the sunroof drains. If these become clogged with debris, the moisture can build up and lead to an unpleasant interior smell. Don’t just poke or prod around to remove the debris, as this can damage the drain; instead, use a vacuum cleaner to siphon off the dirt. You can gently clear out any remaining particles with a flexible wire. Test the drain’s function by pouring water through afterward.

Despite a busy schedule, don’t neglect your basic car routines – if necessary, schedule a home service appointment. Take time to care for your car so that you’re driving in a hygienic environment.

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