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Help!! Smell coming from vents!!

bonnialisabonnialisa Posts: 1
edited March 2014 in Chevrolet
I have a 2001 Chevy Cavalier with 14K miles on it. Recently I have noticed a smell when I turn on the vent or AC (not sure about heating as it is warm outside). The smell is sort of like, for lack of a better description, dead animal, must and cat urine. I tried an air freshener, but that is not helping.

It is getting to the point where I don't even want to drive it, and I certainly do not want to have any one ride with me because it is embarrassing.

I have to take it in to be inspected in September, but I am hesitant to mention it as I am afraid that it will not be covered, and it will cost me a fortune to have the mechanic disassemble the whole dash and try to find the problem.

I wonder if this smell contains chemicals or bacteria, and that is why I keep getting respiratory infections.

Is this something that I covered in a Lease Warranty or would I have to pay for it myself??

Please help.. I am beginning to HATE driving my car!!



  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    you should get to and see if you want to try their excellent odor killer. if it is critter pee, a heavy spray of that stuff into the intake vents while running the fan full-bore in all hvac modes with the windows open should do wonders. if it is a plugged drain and/or lint and fizz on the heater or a/c coils breeding bacteria and mold, the problem will come back in a few days, and you'll know you face an extensive tear-down of the systems to take those coils out and clean 'em.

    GM parts is supposedly going to be distributing this stuff through dealer parts operations, check that out as well.

    // rant // which is why there should be micron HEPA filters AHEAD of the works in the air handling system in all cars, what the devil is wrong with automakers, commies, perverts all, etc etc etc..........

    // rant off //
  • vidtechvidtech Posts: 212
    may be a mouse in the works who has assumed room temperature.
  • I have the same year of cavalier as you and my a/c does the same thing especially when I just have the vents on w/o the ac on. I took it back to where I bought it and they sprayed some kind of stuff in the vents and some other places and it went away for about 2 weeks but its already back. I notice it the most in the morning but after it runs for a few min it goes away so it doesnt really bother me that much anymore so I guess that deoderizer/antibacterial spary did something. But before they did this for me they suggested spraying som lysol in the vents an where the air gets sucked in above the hood, so you might want to try that.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    to shake all the dead little woodsy creatures out.
  • When my Cav. was new (long ago in '92), the same thing happened every time I used the fan at a high speed. Though they never told me where it was originating, the dealer would "cure" it, but the fix would only last a couple weeks. Finally, they must have done something different on the 4th try, because it hasn't recurred since. It was all covered under warranty.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    if you pulled the fan motor and cage (assuming your car designer didn't work in a rubber room, and that can be done with a hex socket in three minutes from under the hood)... and if you took a springy 3 or 4 finger "screw retriever" tool... and if you pushed that into the ductwork under the air intake cowl until you brushed something, and then clamped down and pulled it out... maybe, just maybe, it would be a little dried-up mousie and your problems would be over.

    unless under the half-rotten elm seeds and leaves, there was another....
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    ...a friend of mine has a 1998 Corvette which he keeps stored in the garage. One day he turned on the A/C and got a blast of the foulest stench imaginable. He took the 'Vette to the Chevrolet dealer and it turned out to be dry dog food that mice were taking from a 50 lb. bag stored nearby, carrying to the car, and depositing it in the HVAC ducts. From what he told me, the HVAC ducts were nearly 1/4 full of kibble. The repair wasn't cheap.
  • A girl a used to work with had a 97 (I think) Cavalier that had the ac smell problem, she had been very sick for several months, eventualy found out that rainwater got in and grew a strange mold in vent system. She found out that prevous owner had been in hospital for same problem. I believe she got GM to buy the car back eventualy.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    there are a few molds that insurance companies hate to hear about, members of aspergillus and stachrobotyris families, that are very bad news producers of toxins. they are why household insurance companies are raising rates a couple hundred percent, along with floods and such. mold damage is killing them.

    I'm surprised that she got GM to buy the car back.
  • Most air condition systems collect moisture on the evaporator located in the cowl, glove box area. The evaporator operates very cold and has a fan to transfer the cool air into the cabin area. Water condensation will collect on the evaporator and is suppose to drain onto the road below. Keep the drain clear of any leaves and stuff. Also, before storing the car, run the blower fan without the a/c compressor for ten minutes to dry out the evaporator fins so mold won't have any water to thrive. And most a/c systems fail due to this moisture settling on the aluminum fins causing them to corode. This corosion then makes a R-134a freon pin hole leak . If there was a way to run the blower only after we park the car for ten minutes to dry it, it would last forever and make ever a/c repair shop belly-up.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    if the idiot engineers would put a cabin air filter in all cars... AHEAD OF THE COILS where it belongs... we would never have any more of these discussions. if somebody ended up with a stink, open the hood, open the hatch, pull the filter and the dead critters would fall out, then put in a new filter. fixed for 20 bucks.

    / -rant /
  • No need for a micro-filter to prevent leaves to enter the cowl area. A screen where the wiper arms are attached is enough and is currently implemented. Don't demand the auto makers to spend any more ducats than they have to. We don't want to cut into their bonus.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    and the dandelion tufts that float around. all that crud plates out on the fins of the evaporator and plugs it, trapping water, starting rot, stink, and corrosion. similar issues with the heater core. take a couple out and you will see.

    I am right and everybody else is wrong :-D tremble and obey, bwah ha ha ha ha

    /// slap \\\

    ooh, sorry.
  • Sorry, swschrad, you may have dandelion where you are, but here in Hawaii we have none. Just boring, clean air here year around. Nothing new. See ya soon:)
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    one of these fine days, as soon as my telco stocks recover and join my russian bank and lebanese hotel stocks in posting handsome returns, I will indeed come to Hawaii for rest and repose.

    meantime, it's getting cold, the leaves are turning, and we are being pestered by the "sewer flies", some sort of dung fly that comes through the pipe traps occasinally to flit about the apartment.
  • Happycar says happysurfing. Sorry about your stocks. I'm hardheaded and stayed with bonds even during the heydays of the 1999 stock market rally when they doubled in price daily. Yep, everybody laughed at me back then. They said,"Only five percent interest?" Rightlane investing for me. You can have the leftlane, brother. Have to go, this is not a investing message board. P.S. What is a dandelion?
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    they rise grandly above the grass, flower in about half-inch long petals, randomly organized, some hundreds of them surrounding a sticky center of about a quarter-inch diameter. until the seeds mature. then the petals dry up to fluff, the first wind or disturbance kicks loose hundreds of seeds with parasails that float for long distances in the wind of even a butterfly, to root and grow.

    they'll suck up a lawn or garden in a year, crowd everything else out, and they root deep and hard. dandelions produce rubber in their sap, and practically nothing eats 'em.

    many are the kids who are lured into the world of work first with, "hey, I'll pay a dollar for every bag of dandelions you pick!" by frustrated parents. I wager that nobody has ever filled the second shopping bag.

    dandelions are why 2,4-D is a billion dollar business. you by God don't want 'em in the islands, brown tree snakes are better for you :(
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