Bad smell?

Tiny
BILL SASS
  • MEMBER
  • 2006 LINCOLN TOWN CAR
  • 9,000 MILES
I inherited this car. My dad bought it in 2007 (I think) as a new last-year's model from a Lincoln dealer. I actually encouraged him to buy it. I looked at and sat in the car on the lot with no negatives.

About a week after purchase, I visited and went to his garage to see the new car. When I opened the door, I immediately noticed a strange odor emanating from the interior. I cannot say what the smell is, it is not quite fishy, and not quite carrion. But it is unpleasant and the reason the car has only 9,000 miles.

My dad took the car to the dealership a couple of times over this issue. From the one invoice I saw, they would clean the interior and do some kind of deodorizing step and return the car. It never helped, and the car just sat in the garage.

I became the owner 5 years ago. I have extensively aired the car out to no avail. I cannot locate the source of the odor. It might be coming through the vent system, but it is hard for me to tell. I took the car to a detailing service, and they did their best but no change. (They didn't charge for the special deodorizing because it didn't work)

I hate to give up on the car because it is such a nice vehicle, but I don't know what direction to take at this point. What do I do?

Bill Sass
Friday, July 28th, 2023 AT 10:56 AM

10 Replies

Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • MECHANIC
  • 108,560 POSTS
Bill,

Wow, 9,000 miles. I would want to keep it too. As far as the odor, does it have a musty odor? Is the odor only noticeable inside the vehicle?

Do me a favor. Check the passenger side floor/carpet to see if there is any evidence of mold. The evaporator for the AC may have leaked and caused an odor.

Also, allow the vehicle to warm up and then open the hood to see if there is any evidence of the odor.

Additionally, I attached the procedure that a dealer would have followed when the vehicle was new. Take a look at it.

I do have one last question. Is there any chance mice may have gotten to the vehicle? They can make a mess and cause a strong odor. Check for evidence of that as well.

Let me know what you find.

Joe

See pics below.
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Friday, July 28th, 2023 AT 8:28 PM
Tiny
BILL SASS
  • MEMBER
  • 6 POSTS
Thanks for the reply.
The odor is not musty or mildewy to me. It is sharper smelling.
I see no evidence of mold in the areas you mention or anywhere else.
The car is on a charger right now as the battery has declined, but past experience has not located the smell in the engine compartment especially, it is much stronger inside the car.

As for mice, there is evidence in the engine compartment, and they have gotten into what I think is the AC intake through a plastic grill. The detailing shop I took the car to pointed this out and cleaned the intake as best they could without disassembling anything and I believe that this could be at least part of the problem, but I am kind of familiar with rodent odors and while there are similarities the odor I smell is very distinct and differs from only mouse odor. Also, the smell was there only days after Dad took delivery of the car and I don't think mouse odor would become that bad that fast. But I don't know.

If the ducting contains the problem, what can be done to correct it? Major disassembly or a flushing as the documents you provided suggest? A Mechanic suggested spraying an entire can of Lysol into the ducting intake but I won't do that. I think it might make things worse.

Bill
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Sunday, July 30th, 2023 AT 3:05 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • MECHANIC
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Hi,

If no one has done it yet, remove the blower motor so you can see into the HVAC box. It really isn't too difficult to do.

If you look below, I attached the directions for removing it. At least this will let you see inside the box to determine if there is something inside.

I agree with your comment as far as when it started, but remember, the vehicle sat before it was shipped and delivered. But even that doesn't make sense. I would think the odor would be gone by now.

It doesn't smell like something electrical or hot, does it?

Let me know.

Joe

See pics below.
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Sunday, July 30th, 2023 AT 8:45 PM
Tiny
BILL SASS
  • MEMBER
  • 6 POSTS
Hi,

The smell isn't electrical or hot.

To remove the HVAC blower, I will have to remove the front wheel in order to reposition the fender apron. Not very convenient for me but I will try. I will let you know the results.

Bill
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Tuesday, August 1st, 2023 AT 2:16 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • MECHANIC
  • 108,560 POSTS
Hi Bill, they never make things easy. I agree. Regardless, if you have the chance, let me know what you find. Also, if you have other questions, let me know.

Take care,

Joe
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Tuesday, August 1st, 2023 AT 7:59 PM
Tiny
BILL SASS
  • MEMBER
  • 6 POSTS
Hi Joe,

I removed the HVAC blower motor, and the cavity looks clean and clear excepting a light tan film. No obnoxious smell either other than the ever-present background smell. Is there any more for me to check here before reassembly?

As I mentioned earlier, there is mouse evidence in and around, and the mouse smell is present in the engine compartment a little, but it is distinctively different than the odor that permeates the interior.

I don't mind (too much) putting a few bucks into solving the problem, but I don't know where to go.

Can you suggest any more delving on my part or maybe a place to take the car?

Thanks,

Bill
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Wednesday, August 2nd, 2023 AT 1:57 PM
Tiny
KEN L
  • MASTER CERTIFIED MECHANIC
  • 43,614 POSTS
Any smell that lasts this long is not rodent generated, I would think the coolant is leaking into the heater core which keeps regenerating but not enough to drip on the carpet, I would use a paper towel up under the HVAC plenum to check for the presents of coolant over a week or so of driving it. Also, pull up the carpet on the passenger's side to double check for coolant as well.
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Thursday, August 3rd, 2023 AT 11:50 AM
Tiny
BILL SASS
  • MEMBER
  • 6 POSTS
Thank you for your reply. I realize that an odor problem that is described and not experienced is difficult to diagnose.

I will follow up on your suggestion regarding a possible coolant leak.

Bill
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Friday, August 4th, 2023 AT 1:01 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • MECHANIC
  • 108,560 POSTS
Hi Bill,

After I left the last post, I did some thinking and thought I would ask the site owner if he had any ideas. That is who responded to you, so you got the big guy helping. LOL

Let us know if anything is found.

Take care,

Joe
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Friday, August 4th, 2023 AT 8:51 PM
Tiny
BILL SASS
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LOL indeed.

Thank you, Joe.

Bill
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Sunday, August 6th, 2023 AT 11:39 AM

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