Q: Sour, stale smell coming from air vents

asked by on October 30, 2016

Sudden onset of of sour, stale smell coming from air vents. Car has always been in garage but stayed outside for 10days. Now has odor coming from air vents. Almost smells like cat urine when car first gets going then turns into a really stale mothball smell. Any product I can use to elongate this smell

My car has 99000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

This is most likely a cabin filter that needs to be changed. Your car is equipped with an air filtration system that works similarly to your engine’s air filter in that it filters the outside air as it flows into the cabin of the car when you have the vents open. Over time this filter will get dirty just as your engine air filter does and, in some cases as you describe, it will emit an odor or smell that is filtered into the cabin when you turn on the vent air.

I would recommend having an expert mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic, come to your location to replace the cabin air filter for you.

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