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Thread: Car Smells!

  1. #1
    Senior Member Trstno1's Avatar
    Join Date:  Aug 2014

    Location:  Anchorage, Alaska

    Posts:    843

    My VIN:    5625

    Car Smells!

    Sooo... I have been running my AC this year more than any other and I have noticed something that must be fixed. After running my AC I notice the outside of the car smells a little like hot garbage! I noticed it the first time after parking in a garage after a 80 mile drive. The interior of the car is fine. The cold air smells fine. Just the air emanating from the car smells. What gives? Is there a AC drain somewhere on the car? I’m sort of wondering if its clogged or something. Either way, a Delorean smelling like hot garbage is not desirable. Especially when showing up to a car show and everyone immediately swarms the car.

    Before anyone says anything about general cleanliness, I keep the exterior/interior of my car impeccable. I have replaced the all carpet, carpet foam, seat covers, headliner, and sun visors. I have not touched the heater box at all. Exterior wise, I have had mostly everything apart since owning it with the exception of taking the fenders off, and have never found anything that could be remotely related to causing such a smell. This is definately related to the AC some how. Has this happened to anyone else?

    What do you guys think?
    You can't buy happiness, but you can buy a DeLorean and that's sort of the same thing....

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date:  Jun 2011

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    My VIN:    3937

    Look inside the heater box.


    Sept. 81, auto, black interior

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date:  Aug 2018

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    I suppose it could be related to the water drain, if something really nasty was in there.
    The next time you run your AC, find the puddle of water that your AC dumps on the ground and smell it. At least then you’ll know if the problem is stinky drain water.
    The drain itself is in the passenger front wheel well.

    Edit: here’s the “how to” I used to clean out my drain, and replace the factory hose with something less likely to clog. http://www.16908.info/?p=3072
    Last edited by CFI; 08-22-2020 at 08:53 AM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Trstno1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CFI View Post
    I suppose it could be related to the water drain, if something really nasty was in there.
    The next time you run your AC, find the puddle of water that your AC dumps on the ground and smell it. At least then you’ll know if the problem is stinky drain water.
    The drain itself is in the passenger front wheel well.

    Edit: here’s the “how to” I used to clean out my drain, and replace the factory hose with something less likely to clog. http://www.16908.info/?p=3072
    Thank you for that write up! I'll see if I can get to the drain to check and see if is clogged.
    You can't buy happiness, but you can buy a DeLorean and that's sort of the same thing....

  5. #5
    Senior Member Trstno1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan View Post
    Look inside the heater box.
    how does one "look" inside the heater box? Do that mean heater box removal?
    You can't buy happiness, but you can buy a DeLorean and that's sort of the same thing....

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date:  Aug 2018

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trstno1 View Post
    how does one "look" inside the heater box? Do that mean heater box removal?
    Maybe he hadn’t had his coffee yet

    The easiest way to clean out some of the “stuff” that might be in the evap box is to remove the blower motor. It’s located in the passenger footwell, near where their right foot would be. Once that motor is out you can reach in with your hand (or small vacuum hose) and clean it out.

    While you’re at it, remove the blower motor resistor which is located near the blower motor. They have a tendency to rust terribly. New ones are cheap.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    My VIN:    10757 1st place Concourse 1998

    While it can't hurt to clean inside the heater box and the drain, if the smell was in there you would smell it in the cabin. If you only smell it outside the car I would check the surfaces of all of the parts of the A/C that get hot. That includes the compressor, the discharge hose and the condenser coil. Just guessing but something may have gotten onto one of these parts and the heat is making it smell. This is a bit unusual.
    David Teitelbaum

  8. #8
    Senior Member Citizen's Avatar
    Join Date:  Jun 2011

    Location:  Houston, TX

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    I'm wonder if whatever cleaning solution used on the exterior of the car has left some sort of sheen or film, and upon getting cooked in the summer sun, is emitting the odor ?? Is the odor still there after the sun goes down and the body panels cool off?

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  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date:  Feb 2015

    Posts:    147

    If you only smell from the outside of your car and it truly smells like rotten garbage you may have a dead critter hiding somewhere under the car.

    This did not happen to my Delorean but on another car I had years ago. It was a dead rat that crawled up by the radiator in the winter when I parked outside overnight and must have been sleeping when I started the car and the fan tossed it up on the engine block. It and smelled like rotting garbage. It took a while for me to finally find it.

    A critter maybe your stinking problem???? Just a thought.

  10. #10
    Senior Member - Owner since 2003 Patrick C's Avatar
    Join Date:  May 2011

    Location:  Northern Michigan

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    Club(s):   (DCO) (DCUK)

    Run the car and turn on the A/C and the fans on high. Get out and shut the doors and let it keep running. Take a can of Lysol. Start spraying it in the fresh air intake at the bottom of the windshield. Don't use it sparingly, be aggressive. It will soak everything in the A/C ventilation system and sanitize and kill any bacteria you may have in there. See if that helps to begin with.
    Patrick C.
    VIN 1880
    Modifications done to my car can be seen in this video: https://youtu.be/ncMjW2pI2e4

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