Consumer Reports has tips to get rid of stinky car smells

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Does your car smell musty or funky or just plain bad no matter how many times you go to the car wash or how many air fresheners you buy? You are not alone. The experts at Consumer Reports reveal some easy ways to root out those pesky smells.

The dog, the kids, and maybe even the compost, often mean a trip to the car wash.

"You know how milk tends to fester on and on," one driver said.

"You don't want to give that impression that you're not a very clean person," said another one.

But sometimes, that is just not enough to get rid of unpleasant smells once and for all. "It can be very tough to figure out why a car smells so bad. There are so many vents and crevices in your car where odors can hide and thrive," said Jon Linkov, Consumer Reports Auto Editor.

"The first thing I look at when a customer comes with a smelly car, is look into the cabin filter," said Satoshi Fukunaga, a mechanic.

One obvious place to look and smell are the dashboard vents. If that area is the problem, see if there is debris like leaves in the cabin filter. Clear it out. If that works, great.

If not, installing a new cabin filter can really help. They are not very expensive and you can probably do it yourself. "You can also try spraying a professional grade vent and duct cleaner to get rid of any fungi that may have taken a foothold in a vent," said Linkov.

Moisture in and under carpet mats can also cause odor problems. Carpet cleaners can help, but for tougher smells, you may need to get professional steam cleaning.

And do not forget the sunroof. There are small drainage holes on the sides which sometimes get clogged allowing water to seep into the roof's liner or even drip onto the seats. A quick vacuum of that area can solve that problem.

If none of these fixes work, you may need to have your mechanic check for more serious problems with the climate system.

Take a look at all of 7 On Your Side's stories with Consumer Reports here.

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