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Old 11-15-2006, 11:19 AM
BodhiBenz1987's Avatar
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The gross smell from vents ...

I suspect this is just something to have a good laugh at myself over, but I want to double-check. I'd been noticing a rather foul, musty smell in the cabin area whenever turning on the heat. Having read the many antifreeze leak threads, I feared the worst (and of course, began to worry that I was going to die of poisoning en route to work, or something morbid like that). Several time I stuck me face up to the vent to the left of the wheel and took a whiff. No smell. Odd. I tried to smell the air coming out of that vent several times and it never smelled. Finally last night I got home from work at 2 a.m., and it definately smelled in the cabin. But not from that vent. So I leaned over and sniffed the middle vent ... it reeked! With my face up near that vent, it suddenly occured to me what was about an inch in front of my nose ... the cheapo cup holder I hang on the vents to put my coffee in. Cheapo cup holder doesn't do a great job of keeping the coffee from sloshing on the holder AND into the vent ... any guesses what the smell might have been?

That said ... I want to make sure that the smell is in fact baked stale coffee (it does smell like it). I'm assuming that a leaking core never causes a smell to come from just one vent, assuming all vents are functional (mine are)?

And the next step ... how hard is it to disassemble the vent and clean it? It really is gross. I tried to clean it with a Q-tip and the Q-tip came out covered in black old coffee. I'm really not messy but I guess little slips of the java juice just strays into the vent now and then. I'd like to get rid of the residue. Is that a major undertaking? What does it involve?

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1978 240D 4-speed, Euro Delivery, light ivory/bamboo--370,000 miles
2005 Jeep Liberty CRD Limited, light khaki/slate--140,000 miles
2018 Chevy Cruze diesel, 6-speed manual, satin steel metallic/kalahari--19,000 miles
1982 Peugeot 505 diesel, 4-speed manual, blue/blue, 130,000 miles
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Old 11-15-2006, 11:22 AM
Parrot of Doom's Avatar
1997 W210 E300TD 243,000
 
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Over here, there are special anti-bacterial spray cleaners you can buy. You put one in the car, set it off, shut the doors and windows, and leave it alone for an hour or two.

They kill all growths from the aircon system, and the smell goes.

Its a good idea sometimes to turn the AC compressor off a minute or two before you park up, so its completely dried out by the time the engine has cooled down.
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Old 11-15-2006, 12:25 PM
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I'd make a joke out of having loose women inside the vehicle at various times.............but..........it clearly doesn't work with you.

Your solution is as follows:

Get a commercial spray bottle and fill it 1/2 way with clorox bleach. Fill the remainder with water.

Turn the blower on high in the economy mode with the temperature wheel dialed all the way to full cold.

Spray at least half the contents of the bottle into the cowl intakes. The chlorine will kill all the mold and mildew that have accumulated in the vent system. I'd leave the doors open for a few hours to get the vehicle fully aired out.

Should be good for about one year.........then you'll have to do it again.
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  #4  
Old 11-15-2006, 12:44 PM
F18 F18 is offline
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I agree with Brian......bleach/Chlorox is probably the best anti-microbal agent.
Had to dissinfect the air ducts on the 87 that way.
Heck... a 10% solution of bleach will even kill the HIV virus on contact..its used in some clinics for that purpose.
Cheers,
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  #5  
Old 11-18-2006, 04:24 PM
BodhiBenz1987's Avatar
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So it should be sprayed into the intakes right beneath the base of the windshield wiper? Or do I have the anatomy wrong here? While we're in that ballpark, would it be a good idea to change the filters in there? I've never done it, and I wonder if that's not something that would help make the air a little fresher. Also, should I be worried about bleach-solution overspray damaging anything (other than my clothes, which, unlike most girls, I really don't care about )?

What about cleaning right inside the vent? When I put a Q-tip in there, it comes out black, so I'd like to scrub out inside the vent cover (too hard to get in between those slats) ... is popping that cover off complicated?
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1987 300D, arctic white/palomino--314,000 miles
1978 240D 4-speed, Euro Delivery, light ivory/bamboo--370,000 miles
2005 Jeep Liberty CRD Limited, light khaki/slate--140,000 miles
2018 Chevy Cruze diesel, 6-speed manual, satin steel metallic/kalahari--19,000 miles
1982 Peugeot 505 diesel, 4-speed manual, blue/blue, 130,000 miles
1995 S320, black/parchment--34,000 miles (Dad's car)
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  #6  
Old 11-18-2006, 09:35 PM
I miss my MBZ
 
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Location: Cincinnati, OH
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I'd sprayed Lysol through the vent intake before, worked well, but the car in question didn't have a really bad smell to begin with. I would also be worried about what would happen if chlorine mist got onto my seats...but I've never tried it myself.

in the W123's the "fresh air" inlet is beneath the windshield wipers, I'd imagine that on W124's it is in a similar location (I think you are correct there Bodhi)

-John
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  #7  
Old 11-18-2006, 11:05 PM
Larry Delor's Avatar
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Are there any concerns about chlorine interactions with the aluminum evaporator?

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