Foul interior odors can reduce the value of a used car. With the right actions, these odors can typically be eliminated.
1. Cigarette Smoke
One of the most persistent odors is cigarette smoke. The smoke forms a tar film that can cover all hard surfaces and soak deeply into carpet and upholstery. A vinegar and water solution can be used to remove the tar residue from every hard surface in the interior of the car, including the underside of the dash and even the pedals.
A thorough carpet cleaning is also needed. A detailing may be necessary to remove tar film from inside air vents and in other hidden places. A special odor eliminator may be needed, such as an ozone cleaning, in order to fully remove smoke odor.
2. Mold and Mildew
Moisture is the cause of mold and mildew smells in a car. This could be due to moisture that has been tracked in and soaked upholstery and carpeting, or it could be coming in from the air conditioner and defrost vents in the car. The first task is to make sure there are no current leaks letting moisture into the car, and any wet areas must be dried thoroughly.
Cleaning to remove mold spores involves vacuuming and shampooing the carpet and the upholstery with a cleaner made to kill mold spores. A detailing service can remove any mold or mildew in the air vents. It may also be necessary to replace car mats, as these are often the source of most of the smell. An odor eliminator is then used to remove any remaining odors and to prevent future mold smells.
3. Spoiled Food
Spoiled food smells can be caused by nearly anything. Spilled milk and dairy products are the most common, but stale grease from fast food spills is another type that often occurs in a car. These odors are hard to get rid of because proteins in the food item bond with the carpeting or upholstery in the car. Cleaning isn't enough to get rid of them.
One must use an enzyme cleaner to break down the protein bond that is making the odor stay in the car. This may mean finding the source, which can often be hidden. The space under backseats is common since children are more likely to spill milk and other odor-causing foods. Once the enzyme cleaner does its job, a dealer-approved odor eliminator should get rid of any lingering smells.
Contact a service that specialized in odor eliminators for car dealers if you need more help combating bad smells in the car's interior. For more information, contact a company like NuVinAir.