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That Awful New Car Smell...


moosefuel

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SO I "accidentally" bought a 1990 Reatta sight-unseen at an online auction about three hours away from me. The car itself is not in bad shape for its age, there are lots of little problems which I'm sure I'll post about here. BUT driving it is made unbearable by one thing, the SMELL!

 

I think it might be moisture (the roof wasn't quite sealed properly), but part of me thinks there must be a dead mouse or five in the dashboard or under the rug somewhere for it to smell this bad. It's a sort of pungent, acrid smell, like rotten plastic mixed with mold and a chemical spill.

 

Has anyone else had a very smelly Reatta? How did you fix it?

 

Right now I'm making plans to remove all the carpets (clean them) and check behind the dash but man, that's going to be a lot of work.

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Edited by moosefuel
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Rodents could have built a nest anywhere. I have found them in the heater plenum, wrapped around the HVAC blower, in the center console, under the dash on top of the closure panels, in the trunk in the spare tire well, etc.... As a matter of fact, I had a mouse nest inside the center console of my 90 when I took it out of storage this spring and it was stored 6 ft in the air on a lift😑

 

I have since cleaned out the nest which was built under the shifter and sprayed it with bleach as well as fabreze, plus added deoderizer tablets supposedly used on  car lots. It has helped, but either there is more I didn't find, or is just that persistent.

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There's nothing like "the new car smell"!  Actually, local auto supply stores sell spray cans labeled "New Car Smell".  It's supposed to smell like a new car just prepped fresh from the dealer.

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Well, at least the interior looks pretty nice.  Welcome to the forum.

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22 hours ago, 2seater said:

Rodents could have built a nest anywhere.

Thanks for the feedback. Looks like I'm carefully going to disassemble the entire interior of the car. Clean it, then reassemble. I did find one dead mouse today, he was inside the brake calliper. Poor little guy. 

 

I'll have to be really careful because some of the plastics have become rather brittle and I want to be able to put it all back together again.

 

Thanks again.

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One of my old posts, dealing with a skunk smell 

 

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9 hours ago, rogold said:

One of my old posts, dealing with a skunk smell

Good idea with the air freshener bomb. I am still going to take everything apart and look for mice, but I added one of those to my online cart at my local Canadian Tire store. For sure that will be how I ice the cake.

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First thing I would do is remove the side cover from the console and look in there. Lots of empty space inside there for mice.

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1 hour ago, Ronnie said:

First thing I would do is remove the side cover from the console and look in there. Lots of empty space inside there for mice.

Unfortunately the late models don't have the removable sides or it would be easy😑 I pulled the surround from the shifter and the complete storage bin from the console on my 90 and access was pretty good but not all the way to the front below the dash.

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23 hours ago, 2seater said:

Unfortunately the late models don't have the removable sides

Is there a tutorial somewhere or a step-by-step on how to take apart the dash in a 1990? I'll hit Google in a moment but it doesn't always turn up info and I get good results when I ask the experts here 😀.

 

I just want to make sure the process is a quick as possible and I don't break anything I don't have to.

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Start by pulling the glove box out and look around inside the dash from there. Just remove a few screws and it comes right out.  Then pull the kick panel off the driver's side and look up inside the dash from there. I would avoid removing the brittle plastic parts if possible.

 

Have you turned on the A/C and heat to see if the smell is stronger from the air coming out the vents? If it is you can remove the blower motor and blower control module on the firewall and see what you find in there.

 

 

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My Reatta sat in a garage/pole building (concrete floor, but no heat) for two years after my father was no longer able to drive.  The interior was covered with mildew and there were several mouse nests under the hood that would smell like, well, hot mouse pee when I drove the car.  Meticulous inspection from up top and under the car revealed all of the locations.  Shop vac with crevice tool followed by steam cleaning got rid of the mouse issue.  The interior cleaned up readily using standard cleaners and leather conditioners.  I cleaned the carpets (without removing them) with our household hot water extractor unit and everything looks as good as it should for a car with 26k miles.  I used Febreeze on the carpets and also sprayed some into the intake for the HVAC when it was running.

Edited by alchemist
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That is a feat of alchemy!  I've got a 1993 Olds Custom Supreme convert with the 3.4 twin cam that I will get at next year.  Noticed that when it was covered in the driveway, mice decided it was the perfect estate to homestead.  In disgust I just rolled it into the garage without cleaning it up.  I now wonder what I might drop in there to discourage any rodents and combat the odor.  When I am ready to work on it it will be rolled back out into the driveway [hey, it's San Diego].  Someone suggested moth balls.

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3 hours ago, wufibugs said:

Someone suggested moth balls.

My father tried everything.  Mothballs, fabric softener sheets, etc.  The only thing he did not try was feral cat.

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Thanks for the info. I ended up removing the interior, also found a lot of rust and mildew I have to combat. Priority #1 is making sure I fix all the seals to stop water coming in, but it's going to be a challenge and a half to find all the leaks. Anyone ever try one of those ultrasonic leak-finders? Seems like I need some help here.

 

 

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You should check the wire splices under the seats while you have the carpet out. If you have water in there the splices can cause lots of problems.

 

Wire Splice Repair

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On 7/18/2024 at 11:31 AM, Ronnie said:

If you have water in there the splices can cause lots of problems.

Thanks for the tip! Will-do.

 

On the bright side, I spent the week cleaning, grinding and painting and the rusty floors have never looked better. 

 

The car's name is AMY, btw.

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