Before Perth’s wet weather really sets in, having your air conditioner serviced could be the answer to something that has been on your mind for some time.

We have all been in a car that we think smells and when it isn’t your own, it’s difficult to stay silent, which can be awkward for the driver. There are plenty of causes for bad car smells, here are a few of them and ways to overcome them.


Causes of Bad Car Smells

Mould or Damp

The air conditioning system in your car is generally a damp environment and the evaporative unit, in particular, can be a suitable breeding ground for mould, particularly when not regularly maintained.

Whilst not a significant issue with newer vehicles, older vehicles can be more susceptible to a build-up of mildew or mould, resulting in that wet, earthy smell. With any case of mould, prevention is easier than treatment and can be as simple as spraying mildew and mould-killing cleaner into your cabin air intake.

A form of prevention is to use the air conditioner setting that draws fresh air from outside the vehicle rather than always using the recirculation setting. Of course, there will be times on the road where a vehicle in front of you is emitting exhaust smoke, so be selective when choosing to open the vents. A further issue for older cars is when the door seals begin to perish, allowing water to leak inside the car and onto the carpet.

Dirty Cabin Air Filter

A cabin air filter is something that most cars possess these days, that filters dust, pollen and other allergens from the air which is drawn into your car’s interior for air conditioning.

When your filter becomes dirty and clogged, moisture can be trapped in the layers. If this has been the case for some time, it is likely the smell that you are noticing is resulting from the air that is coming through the cabin air filter.

Luckily, it’s an easy fix and all it requires is a new cabin air filter. On most vehicles, the filter is quite simple to change and is not an expensive exercise.

Takeaway Smells

These smells can be a direct result of takeaways from the night before or from days gone by with on-the-go packaging left in the car. If you have kids, your best intentions to keep the car clean are always there, but there are regular challenges presented that require food or drink being handed over, to keep them happy.

The worst thing with this category of smells is, it often takes another person to make you realise just how bad it is. Once reality has dawned, it’s easy enough to take steps that will overcome the bad smell and make it more pleasant for passengers and for you.

Keeping your car clean of empty food and drink containers is a great place to start and making sure that anything that has spilled on the carpets or other interiors is cleaned thoroughly.

Takeaway packaging and food contribute to bad car smells


How Can I Overcome These Smells?

Firstly, it’s about finding the source. Most odours are trapped in the interior fabric and a start is to use the upholstery attachment on your vacuum to help you do a detailed clean. Steam cleaning is another option and for mould and wet carpet smells, a dry/wet vacuum will do the trick.

A popular way to avoid foul scents is to always keep your favourite scent in the car. Examples might be a standard air freshener, putting vanilla on cotton balls, a tin of ground coffee, or placing two drops of citrus essential oil on a wooden peg.

Regular car servicing will help identify any underlying or contributing problems with your air conditioning, testing for efficient operation, temperature, and pressure. To book your next automotive or air conditioning service, book Gino’s car air conditioning service today.