Car Odors

There are two kinds of odors in a car. The first is an odor which is caused by a specific problem or circumstance. The second type is a malingering old car smell which may or may not have an individually identifiable cause, but it just lingers in the car. We aren’t talking about odors such as your kids spilling a strawberry shake on the seat. We’re just talking about a sort of thrift-store smell.


The point is that car odors--those stinky smells that steal our joy of riding in our cars--can be stopped.  Let’s look at some causes and solutions.

The air conditioner

If your car stinks when you turn the air conditioner on, it might be mold or mildew in the unit. It’s not common here in Arizona, because we have a drier climate, but this guy Scotty Kilmer, swears by a can of Lysol.
Here is another solution, also available in an aerosol spray from Lowes or Amazon.

Smoke smell

If a former smoker owned the car, the lingering residue is going to be on virtually every surface of the vehicle and it will need to be washed off. If a marijuana smoker owned the car, It might have a stale, skunk smell which lingers. Some weed smokers use air fresheners which dangle from the rearview mirror, described by law enforcement as, 'a felony forest.’  But, even though times are changing and laws relaxing, no one wants to smell old skunk weed.

Ozium, if you can find it, will get the pot odor out with just a little bit. Febreze is easier to locate, and it’s a great alternative. 

Just remember that smoke clings to surfaces, and surfaces can be washed and vacuumed.


If your car smells like gas, check the gas cap. If the gas cap is on correctly, you have a tank leak, a fuel injector leak, or a line leak. Any of these problems need to be repaired immediately.

Old car smell

If your car has an odor which isn’t ascribed to anything specific, but it lingers, and you don’t want to try to mask the smell, Zeo Trap rocks from Amazon or from Lowe's are one way to go.

They’re rocks which absorb odors, much like charcoal, and moisture. Once they quit working, you can lay them out on a sunny day to ‘charge’ them back up. They’re highly reviewed, and people say they work on other things besides that old musty car smell, such as cat box odors and dirty shoes.

If you are in the Phoenix Metro area and want a no-hassle cash offer on an old, wrecked, unwanted, salvage or burned car, SUV, van or truck, give us a call at I Buy Junk Cars 480-771-8290.