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A foul & mysterious odor..

 
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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 20 Jan 2011, 07:35 pm
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Default A foul & mysterious odor..

HELP! MY beloved 2002 PT Cruiser touring edition has had a funky smell coming out of the vents when the heat or defrost is on for about 3 years now. I've been told this model doesn't have a cabin filter so there is no way to fix it. It literally smells like something crawled into the vents and died - horrific smell that has me put the windows down on 10 degree days. I'm about ready to trade it in just to get away from the stench. Nothing has died in there - I've had it checked out by two mechanics and have no answers. Does anyone know what this may be and how to get rid of it? I love my car I don't want to trade it in but the smell is too much and embarassing if I have to have anyone else in the car. HELP!!
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Old 20 Jan 2011, 08:05 pm
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Default Re: A foul & mysterious odor..

We just had another member post for a similar "cat pee" smell coming out of the vents. Generally I'd say it's the condensation drain tube backing up into the housing unit. The more water it holds, the swampier it gets. Also some have disassembled their heater cores to find them filled with gunk, causing a stink in the car too. And even though you don't have a cabin air filter, you still have the position for it. If that has taken in water it could cause a similar stench.

You can see what was posted here. Candyman was kind enough to post a fabulous tutorial on how to get to that cabin air filter box, you may want to look there and see if, just inside the lip where the filter goes, there is swamp water collecting there. Both are mentioned in the thread above. Lastly, there is a door that opens to take in outside air just behind where the cabin filter mounts, when you check to see if there's water in there, make sure you have your vents NOT on recirculate. If you have it to take in outside air the door will be open. I think it's vacuum controlled so may have to have the engine running for it to be open.

Now, if you pull off the mounting kit for the cabin air filter and that door is open, but you have the selector switch set for recirc, then you may have a vacuum leak causing that door to remain open and allowing water into the bottom of the vent system. That, my friend, is a total bear to clean out. You have to do some serious disassembly work to get in there and clean that out.

My suggestion, if that door is stuck open, is to get some of that odor be gone stuff and maybe dump a tiny bit in there, see if it kills off the odor. I can tell you one thing, it's worse than being in a house with damp carpet padding, you're being exposed to tons of mold, mildew and bacteria, so hope you aren't having lots of upper respiratory problems!

Hope that helps out.

Last edited by Chromenut; 20 Jan 2011 at 08:10 pm.
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Old 21 Jan 2011, 02:08 am
mdfrodolives's Avatar
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Default Re: A foul & mysterious odor..

I had a problem similar to this a few years back. It's not uncommon in PT's. In fact, if you Google PT Cruiser Problems, you'll find that "foul-odor-while-using-A/C" stories are numerous. Anyway, back to my old problem with stinky air. The problem only existed while I was using the A/C. In "defrost mode", your A/C is actually running--even though you've got the temp controls on "hot", and hot air is naturally blowing out of your vents. However, my smelly air (more like moldy, musty air) was more noticable in the summer while using the A/C.

Well, at about 40,000 miles my A/C just went kaput. Fortunately I had an extended warranty (they had to replace the condensor, compressor--lines, the whole shebang) and the job only cost me $50.00. The weird thing was this: there was no longer a funny odor--not then, nor three years later (now, that is). I have no idea what the dealer did to my A/C system that made this very common problem go away, but I suspect they may simply have found a drain tube that was not draining and also replaced that.

I have heard of a cleaning aerosol product/procedure that actually clears out the problem. But first make sure your drain tube is draining properly before using this product. I don't know the name of it, but perhaps someone else here on the forum will remember it and mention what it is and where to get it.

Tim
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Old 21 Jan 2011, 02:24 am
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Default Re: A foul & mysterious odor..

Great advice from two of the coolest ppl on this forum. Greetings from san antonio, Eve(07 Touring Ed) and I say hello. I was gonna suggest what Chrome did but he beat me to it. Welcome to the site by the way.
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Old 21 Jan 2011, 03:15 am
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Default Re: A foul & mysterious odor..

Oops, I forgot to add that my daughter once had a 1985 Honda Accord. She drove it back to some Confederate State where they have too few eagles--and too many chipmunks. Now I'm not down on chipmunks, on the whole, but one of them apparently got inside her vent system. Once she drove back home to California, I was checking out her car when I heard the ominious sounds of some kind of rodent.

I hate killing animals of any size, but I couldn't let this guy stink up my daughter's Honda. So I got some rat poison and put the stuff on the floor of the car and came back the next day. The poison was gone. But the creature was nowhere to be seen. After three hot summer days, however, the corpse of the dead creature began to smell. When you turned on the A/C it was awful. I began to realize that I should have put a trap on the floorboard instead of the rat poison (then I could have removed the chipmunk, at least). After a few weeks, I finally had to open up the vent system, and in the evap housing, I found the dead chipmunk--and a huge nest. It took three hours to take it all apart, clean up the mess, then put it all back together. But the car didn't smell like Dracula's breath, anymore ....

Still, I suspect you do not have a decaying rodent in your evap housing. But I still don't know the name of the cleaning product you need. It is not the one mentioned by Candyman in Chromenut's post above. It's a kind of mold-killer stuff that is very strong (you don't want anyone in the PT when you're using it, by the way), and it apparently gives good results.

I don't know if this will work in the winter, or not, but as a test, turn on your A/C for a good ten minutes and see if any condensation water drips from under the passenger-side of the car. If you get the drip, your evap hose is draining. If not, it needs to be unclogged, per Candyman's instructions--and maybe replaced. Worst case, you have to take apart the evap housing and clean it out real good. It was a drag when I did it to the Honda, but the PT looks like even more work. Or have some mechanic do the job--and make sure he sees to that drain hose while he's at it.

Good luck,

Tim
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Old 21 Jan 2011, 01:34 pm
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Default Re: A foul & mysterious odor..

Thanks soooooo much to everyone that offered help & welcomed me to the forum. I apologize for not introducing myself just jumping in.. how rude!
So this is me .. I have a 2002 PT Cruiser Touring Edition and absolutely adore it. I've never had a car that was this fun to drive. I'm a total animal person - thus the screen name - and came here for help with the stink but also to meet other Crusier lovers and find out more about what you've all done to personalize and maintain your babies.

I have NO mechanical skill at all so I'm guessing I'll have to take it to a dealer and hope they know what to do. I hate to get rid of the car and get a car payment again but the thought of breathing in all that mold and yuck (which I hadn't even thought of before) is creeping me out. lol

Thanks again for all the help! I hope everyone has a great day!
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Old 21 Jan 2011, 01:50 pm
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Default Re: A foul & mysterious odor..

Quote:
Originally Posted by mdfrodolives View Post
If you get the drip, your evap hose is draining. If not, it needs to be unclogged, per Candyman's instructions--and maybe replaced.
Tim, great story, you're a good writer.

The drain is a very simple rubber thing. It clamps on a plastic tube that's low on passengers firewall, drains, as you say, right on the ground.
You could crawl under and 'squeeze' it or take off w/ a household pliers.
I *Think* one could just pull the blower motor and get some access to condenser.
I'd do it and shoot it, but it's -10 now ...
Aw, what the heck.

Standby.
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Old 21 Jan 2011, 03:17 pm
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Default Re: A foul & mysterious odor..

This is the drain:

Squeeze it (like milking cow) to see if it's full of debris.

Passenger's footwell:


Carpet removed, velcro and 'nippers' or fingernails, screwdriver, whatever to pull the little pins:


Please excuse the shakes, 10 second exposure. Location of four 5/16 or 8mm screws. Use a Craftsman/Snap-on 1/4" ratchet and 8mm or 5/16 socket.
You may have to finagle the hamster cage out, pull back carpet a bit.
The connector has a red lock you have to pull or push to get the simple latch to work.
They only put these 'locks' where:
1. it's absolutely needless
2. Impossible to get at.
3. The connector get old and brittle and breaks trying to undo lock (Fuel injectors).
Dunno why I wrote 'Red' in the screw box. Ignore.


Blower removed.


Box- Reach hand into hole, you can feel the fins and debris. BIG snakes live in these boxes ...
I was only bit once this time.


Debris.


Cost:
Ratchet, socket, snake bite kit.

Takes less than 1 hour.
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Old 21 Jan 2011, 07:10 pm
mdfrodolives's Avatar
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Default Re: A foul & mysterious odor..

Uptown--very funny and very informative. The job looks infinitely easier than my daughter's '85 Honda Accord. Thanks for the photos. Crewzin should put this in as a "Sticky".

Paws, sorry about all the animal cruelty. I have two spoiled Westies, by the way, so don't be hatin'.

And if you go to the dealer, they may tell you there is no problem whatosoever with your system. Chrysler has seemingly been ignoring the problem for years. Although, since I can assume you're out of warranty, they may take a sniff, scratch something while you're not looking, spit--and quote you $400.00, or so to fix the problem. See if you can find another mechanic in town who will not rip you off for what seems (according to Uptown's instructions) a job that should take no more than a hour, tops ... and no parts charges.

Come on, guys! I know someone wrote on the forum (and provided pictures) about opening up the vent system and spraying this stuff (the stuff I can't remember the name of) into the opening where the cabin filter is located. It's done while the fan is on, of course; and takes only a few minutes.

If anyone remembers the post, please put it in this discussion.

Later,

Tim

P.S. Uptown, I'm with Indy when it comes to snakes.
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Old 07 Jun 2014, 01:06 pm
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Default Re: A foul & mysterious odor..

[QUOTE=UptownSport;339394]This is the drain:

Squeeze it (like milking cow) to see if it's full of debris.

Can you please describe to me where this part is? I need to see if this is what is causing the water to drain into my floorboard, but I cannot find where this picture was taken. I have a 2007 PT Cruiser, Pacific Coast Hwy Edition.
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