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Stinky Ka-Ka odors coming from air vents


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9 replies to this topic

#1 onangaf

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Posted 12 April 2006 - 06:37 AM

There is a very bad odor (kinda smells like sh_t) coming from the air vents in my 2004 Outback. Everyone that gets in my car comments (What's That Smell).
After trying to do a little research on the problem I thought it might be mold growing in the air vents. So I took car to my local dealer, they said they put some kind of stuff down the vents and gave me my car back. Well of course I could no longer smell the KA-Ka because of the strong perfume smell coming from the vents of the stuff they put in there. After about a week and a half the perfume smell started to wear off and the Ka-Ka smell has come back.

I run the AC all the time, and in recirculation mode.
I have to or the windows will fog up.
If I use outside air mode, I just get alot of gas fumes in the cabin.

Anybody have any idea as to what the Ka-Ka smell I'm having could be from, and/or how to fix the problem.

PS, the dealer did not say that there was a mold problem, they just put the perfume smelling stuff in because I told them it might be a mold problem.

The car has 17,000 miles on it and is of almost no use to me if its gonna smell like cr_p all the time.

Appreciate any help given on this matter.

#2 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 12 April 2006 - 07:20 AM

There is a very bad odor (kinda smells like sh_t) coming from the air vents in my 2004 Outback. Everyone that gets in my car comments (What's That Smell).
After trying to do a little research on the problem I thought it might be mold growing in the air vents. So I took car to my local dealer, they said they put some kind of stuff down the vents and gave me my car back. Well of course I could no longer smell the KA-Ka because of the strong perfume smell coming from the vents of the stuff they put in there. After about a week and a half the perfume smell started to wear off and the Ka-Ka smell has come back.

I run the AC all the time, and in recirculation mode.
I have to or the windows will fog up.
If I use outside air mode, I just get alot of gas fumes in the cabin.

Anybody have any idea as to what the Ka-Ka smell I'm having could be from, and/or how to fix the problem.

PS, the dealer did not say that there was a mold problem, they just put the perfume smelling stuff in because I told them it might be a mold problem.

The car has 17,000 miles on it and is of almost no use to me if its gonna smell like cr_p all the time.

Appreciate any help given on this matter.


If it's a sweet, toasted marshmallow smell it could be a coolant leak. Sometimes a CV boot could split or get cut and throw grease on the exhaust. Sometimes a piece of plastic or something could get on the exhaust. Some folks get mice living in their cars!

Definitely look around under the car. Of course , it could be mold in the A/C system - maybe the drain for the evaporater is clogged. If there is no fluids dripping on the exhaust, I'd try an A/C specialist shop.

Carl

#3 mwatt

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Posted 12 April 2006 - 07:47 AM

There is a very bad odor (kinda smells like sh_t) coming from the air vents in my 2004 Outback. Everyone that gets in my car comments (What's That Smell).
After trying to do a little research on the problem I thought it might be mold growing in the air vents. So I took car to my local dealer, they said they put some kind of stuff down the vents and gave me my car back. Well of course I could no longer smell the KA-Ka because of the strong perfume smell coming from the vents of the stuff they put in there. After about a week and a half the perfume smell started to wear off and the Ka-Ka smell has come back.

I run the AC all the time, and in recirculation mode.
I have to or the windows will fog up.
If I use outside air mode, I just get alot of gas fumes in the cabin.

Anybody have any idea as to what the Ka-Ka smell I'm having could be from, and/or how to fix the problem.

PS, the dealer did not say that there was a mold problem, they just put the perfume smelling stuff in because I told them it might be a mold problem.

The car has 17,000 miles on it and is of almost no use to me if its gonna smell like cr_p all the time.

Appreciate any help given on this matter.


If you really do run the A/C in the recirc mode all the time, that is the cause of the odor problem. You must let outside air get thru the A/C evaporator and heater core. And the reason you have to run the A/C all the time to prevent the windows from fogging up is because you're using the recirc mode. Every so often, you see a car with the windows all fogged up on a cool, damp day. That's because the driver has left the A/C system in the "recirc" mode so humidity keeps building up and up inside the cabin. You probably already know this, but "recirc" should be used only with the compressor running and then only during extreme heat and humidity. I realize that you're trying to prevent outside objectionable odors (like other vehicle exhaust fumes) from coming into your car, but using recirc all the time is creating the foul odor because bacteria and mold growth favors those nice damp, dark conditions (with no fresh air) inside the evaporator plenum under the dash. Let fresh air get in there. Run the blower continuously, no matter what season. On both of our Subarus, we've never had an odor problem from the HVAC system because we keep fresh air moving thru the system all the time.

#4 ferret

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Posted 12 April 2006 - 08:40 AM

Try running it without the recirc on (Fresh air setting) and spray some Lysol or equivalant aerosol that kills mold/bacteria into the fresh air vent in front of the windshield to kill off the mold/bacteria built up.

My 90 Legacy was the only car I had to do this on. My 82 or 85 didn't do it, neither do my 02 or 04 Forester.

#5 ron917

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Posted 12 April 2006 - 10:44 AM

On my wife's Pontiac Montana van, some critter (mouse?) made a nest in the cabin air filter. I don't know if your car has a cabin air filter, but if so, I would check it out.

#6 simsj_1999

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Posted 12 April 2006 - 11:01 AM

I have had this problem before but it has been because mice moved into the ductwork and built a nest/died in there. Is this a possibility where you live/keep your car? Dealer had to pull all ductwork out of my car, disinfect, etc.... Hope it never happens again because that reeked!!!:slobber:

#7 91LegLS

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Posted 12 April 2006 - 11:40 AM

There is a very bad odor (kinda smells like sh_t) coming from the air vents in my 2004 Outback. Everyone that gets in my car comments (What's That Smell).
After trying to do a little research on the problem I thought it might be mold growing in the air vents. So I took car to my local dealer, they said they put some kind of stuff down the vents and gave me my car back. Well of course I could no longer smell the KA-Ka because of the strong perfume smell coming from the vents of the stuff they put in there. After about a week and a half the perfume smell started to wear off and the Ka-Ka smell has come back.

I run the AC all the time, and in recirculation mode.
I have to or the windows will fog up.
If I use outside air mode, I just get alot of gas fumes in the cabin.

Anybody have any idea as to what the Ka-Ka smell I'm having could be from, and/or how to fix the problem.

PS, the dealer did not say that there was a mold problem, they just put the perfume smelling stuff in because I told them it might be a mold problem.

The car has 17,000 miles on it and is of almost no use to me if its gonna smell like cr_p all the time.

Appreciate any help given on this matter.


I have a 91 Legacy LS and I was suffering with the exact problem you are now. Everything you read previously is correct and will temporarily solve the problem. To permanently fix the problem, you need to have the evaporator core under the dash inside the vehicle CLEANED. Many speciality shops and your local dealer should have a cleaning system that sprays an enzyme cleaner that dissolves the crap that has accumulated on the core and is stinking up your car. It shouldn't cost more that $150 to have done and takes about two hours to complete. Once your system has been cleaned (it has nothing to do with the refrigerant inside you system, just the core next to your heater core under the dash) the smell will be gone and your ventilation airflow will improve regardless if the A/C is on or not. Your car may have an in-cabin air filter and if you do, it should be changed once a year. Cabin air filters are designed to prevent accumulation on the A/C evaporator core, which is the problem you appear to be having.

The perfume your dealer sprayed was done so from outside the car at the air intake grills next to your windshield wipers. DON'T GO BACK TO THAT DEALERSHIP BECAUSE THEY WOULD HAVE USED THE ENZYME CLEANER IF THEY HAD IT TO FIX YOUR PROBLEM. Tell your next repair shop that you need to have your A/C evaporator core under the dash cleaned. If they are educated, they will know exactly what you're talking about.

#8 nipper

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Posted 12 April 2006 - 11:42 PM

Spare yourself the 150.00 and either get yourself a can of lysol, or go the fancy route and go to an autopart store and find an AC freshner or cleaner (not sure what its called). If you sue the lysol have the AC in the fresh air mode and run the HVAC through all the positions. Have the windows open in the car, and the lysol smell will be gone in less then 15 minutes of driving.

nipper

#9 91LegLS

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Posted 13 April 2006 - 11:11 PM

There is a very bad odor (kinda smells like sh_t) coming from the air vents in my 2004 Outback. Everyone that gets in my car comments (What's That Smell).
After trying to do a little research on the problem I thought it might be mold growing in the air vents. So I took car to my local dealer, they said they put some kind of stuff down the vents and gave me my car back. Well of course I could no longer smell the KA-Ka because of the strong perfume smell coming from the vents of the stuff they put in there. After about a week and a half the perfume smell started to wear off and the Ka-Ka smell has come back.

I run the AC all the time, and in recirculation mode.
I have to or the windows will fog up.
If I use outside air mode, I just get alot of gas fumes in the cabin.

Anybody have any idea as to what the Ka-Ka smell I'm having could be from, and/or how to fix the problem.

PS, the dealer did not say that there was a mold problem, they just put the perfume smelling stuff in because I told them it might be a mold problem.

The car has 17,000 miles on it and is of almost no use to me if its gonna smell like cr_p all the time.

Appreciate any help given on this matter.


Many people will suggest that you save some coin and spray Lysol or another bacteria spray into the vents. To remove the source of the odor, the source must be removed, not deodorized. If the material isn't removed, it will only get worse. Before I had mine done, the A/C smelled so bad it made my eyes water. I purchased the car in October and the previous owner didn't keep the interior clean. Fortunately, I detail cars once in awhile as a hobby and the car looks, and smells, much better.

Get it cleaned. You'll be glad you did later this summer.

#10 schlit

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Posted 15 April 2006 - 11:16 AM

Always running the car in recirculation mode is like never taking your socks off your feet.




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