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covering nose air conditioner Big Stock Photo: zoph

Over time, you may notice bad smells coming from inside your vehicle. While most odors can be eliminated with a quick clean and some air freshener, there’s a certain scent that is beyond foul. Dead rodent smell is the one I’m referring to, and it’s certainly one that’s hard to ignore, even with deodorizer.

It’s a very distinct stench, but the dead animal smell is also a dead giveaway that you have a rodent problem inside your vehicle. There’s a number of small animals and critters that could have worked their way into your car, but the most common culprit will be either a dead mouse or a dead rat. If you notice this foul odor, let’s discuss the next steps you should take in order to rid it from your vehicle.

How to Get Rid of Dead Animal Smell

You may wonder if this is a situation that you need to inform your insurance company about, or if you can handle the job yourself. In most cases, this isn’t a terribly hard DIY job. The only time you should really consider calling insurance is if the rodent happens to chew up wires or causes additional damage.

The first step you should take is locating the animal. While doing so, it’s smart to roll down windows in order to get as much fresh air as possible while dealing with the smell in the meantime. You should also bring some gear, such as a face mask, rubber gloves, and a few plastic bags. Search under the hood, between the engine compartment crevasses, and inside the vehicle until you can track it down. If you’re in the right vicinity, your nose will let you know. Also use this time to inspect for further infestation.

Voila! You’ve found where the dead animal odor is coming from. Now, it’s time to think about clean up. Obviously, you’ll want to discard the dead body right away. Following this, start scrubbing the affected area using either a diluted bleach solution, baking soda, or a commercial disinfectant. After cleaning the area, it’s also beneficial to put down some kind of odor neutralizer.

Keep in mind that if the bad car smell originated from an area near the cabin air filter, it’s also recommended to either remove and clean this filter, or replace it all together. Not doing so may cause the stench to cycle through the car air conditioning ventilation system. Nobody wants that blower motor directing dead mouse odor through the air conditioner straight into your nose.

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Don’t let the odor get the best of you. Figure out where it’s coming from, give it a good hard clean, and get your car back to smelling fresh again. Even if you can put up with it, passengers will never agree to enter your car with that dead mouse smell inside. It’s one of those things that needs to be taken care of promptly, or it’ll get even worse with time.

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