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This damn musty smell!

Discussion in '5th Gen 4Runners (2010+)' started by MeefZah, Sep 21, 2022.

  1. Sep 21, 2022 at 4:40 AM
    #1
    MeefZah

    MeefZah [OP] Curmudgeonly

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    Fuck yo' overlanding
    For about the last two months my 19 ORP has had this musty smell in the interior.

    It's making me nuts.

    It is parked outside and only used infrequently now, which I have to believe is part of the issue. It also seemed to start after I got a car wash and they gave me one of those shitty car wash air fresheners which I hung up for like a week and then pulled down because it was a shitty car wash air freshener.

    I figured high pressure car wash water got in, or rain was getting in somehow, but I can't find any means of ingress and I can't find anything wet inside. I do not have a sunroof so the drain issue is a non-issue for me.

    I've poked around in every part of the interior looking for a dead mouse or something that stinks and there's nothing. I keep it cherry inside anyway so it's not like a hamburger got shoved under the seat and is rotting.

    I've parked in the garage for 3 days straight with the doors open, windows down and a fan blowing - and the smell dissipates; but as soon as I close the doors and windows (like an hour later) the smell is back.

    I changed the cabin air filter. Still smells.

    I have run the heater, and run the AC on hot, at high for like an hour trying to bake out anything that might be in the ducts. Still smells.

    I open all the windows and park in the sun every nice day but the smell remains.

    Any other ideas from the masses?
     
  2. Sep 21, 2022 at 6:07 AM
    #2
    canadian.bacon

    canadian.bacon H9 halogen is the best led bulb

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    What you’re probably smelling is the condensation that comes from the evaporator. If water puddles there, you’ll get mold.
    Try to spray some Lysol in the hvac box with the fan on and windows down then let the fan work and change the cabin filter again. Maybe leave the fan running after you use the AC.
    I know this was a huge problem with some GM cars we had and GM actually had a flag you could set on to have the fan running for 2 min after the AC was used, even with the car turned off.
     
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  3. Sep 21, 2022 at 6:08 AM
    #3
    MeefZah

    MeefZah [OP] Curmudgeonly

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    Fuck yo' overlanding
    Hey thanks man! HVAC box being the structure underneath the cabin air filter?
     
  4. Sep 21, 2022 at 6:18 AM
    #4
    MyWyfsRnnr

    MyWyfsRnnr Have you seen the mall?

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    Can't remember if you have a sun roof or not? If so, is the sun roof drain clear? If no sunroof, double check that when you run the ac on cold, that water drips out of the bottom of the car. That is water from the evap that Canadian is talking about and if that is plugged you end up with some funk
     
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  5. Sep 21, 2022 at 6:26 AM
    #5
    MeefZah

    MeefZah [OP] Curmudgeonly

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    No sunroof, will do. Thanks.
     
  6. Sep 21, 2022 at 6:31 AM
    #6
    PVT Pablo

    PVT Pablo

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    MeefZah [OP] likes this.
  7. Sep 21, 2022 at 6:47 AM
    #7
    TRD8

    TRD8 New Member

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    You can try sprinkling baking soda on the carpets and leaving it there for a few days before vacuuming it up.
     
  8. Sep 21, 2022 at 6:59 AM
    #8
    rickc5

    rickc5 New Member

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    The musty smell is a common complaint about Toyota & Lexus vehicles. I also hate the smell, so I can offer two potential "fixes" for this. 1) I always turn off the AC when I am about 2 miles from home. but leave the fan on. This allows outside air to help in drying out the HVAC tubes where the mold can grow. 2) If the smell persists after #1, you can buy a HVAC system flusher/cleaner from your Toyota dealer. This is sprayed into the HVAC input port under the hood with the engine running, doors open, and fan on high (follow instructions on can). This stuff kills the mold, but you will STILL need to turn off the AC when you are 2 miles from home after using this. Also, run the AC in fresh air mode, not recirculate, as much as possible.
     
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  9. Sep 21, 2022 at 7:18 AM
    #9
    MeefZah

    MeefZah [OP] Curmudgeonly

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    Thanks all. Interestingly I rarely use the air, and I almost always have all 5 windows down with the HVAC set to 'foot' and 'off', non recirc.
     
  10. Sep 21, 2022 at 9:19 AM
    #10
    MJR

    MJR New Member

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    upload_2022-9-21_11-18-21.jpg
    upload_2022-9-21_11-18-40.jpg
    this is what we used in the dealership and i now use at home on my Toyota’s
     
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  11. Sep 21, 2022 at 10:08 AM
    #11
    MAXIM

    MAXIM New Member

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    At your local dealer, part number:
    AC Refresher Kit - Toyota (00289-ACRKT)

    [​IMG]
     
    MeefZah [OP] likes this.
  12. Sep 21, 2022 at 10:58 AM
    #12
    Captain Spalding

    Captain Spalding Explorer

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    I have read other threads where water got in through a failed roof rack seal and traveled down through the b-pillar to the floor. Do you have a roof rack?
     
  13. Sep 21, 2022 at 11:13 AM
    #13
    FN2187

    FN2187 Stormtrooper

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    From what I can tell, you do NOT have an aftermarket roof rack, correct? I know I've read threads about water coming down through the bolt holes and making the seat belts wet inside the pillars. If you still have stock though I wouldn't suspect this
     
  14. Sep 21, 2022 at 11:18 AM
    #14
    Too Stroked

    Too Stroked New Member

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    Lots of great advice here, but I'll offer one more bit. Don't worry about what product to use to eliminate the odor until you find what's causing it. Fix the cause, then the effect.

    My son and I just finished up a rather involved witch hunt for the source of a ton of water in the floorboards of his 2013 Scion tC and the resultant musty odor. We finally tracked it down to an A/C drain that had become slightly dislodged after tearing out most of the interior and all of the carpet and underlying padding. A week of carpet steaming / cleaning / disinfecting and then drying later, all is well.
     
  15. Sep 21, 2022 at 3:27 PM
    #15
    Matt83

    Matt83 New Member

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  16. Sep 21, 2022 at 6:01 PM
    #16
    j cat

    j cat New Member

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    I put the fiberglass mosquito screen on the wiper grill area.../////////////////////

    my GM vehicles had the insect screen then no mess in the HVAC ...
    my 2016 runner did the job and not mess in the air filter ...................fiberglass insect screen .. used the black sealer ............on top of the plastic grill ..
     
  17. Sep 21, 2022 at 7:16 PM
    #17
    MeefZah

    MeefZah [OP] Curmudgeonly

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    No roof rack.

    I did the Lysol in the fan thing today and ran the fan a lot on hot, and checked the drain, which was clear. I had to leave my truck at work so I will check it Friday and see how it is. I'll try the Toyota product if I'm unsuccessful.

    I had no idea this was a thing.
     
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  18. Sep 21, 2022 at 7:32 PM
    #18
    4runningMan

    4runningMan New Member

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    Did you (or previous owner) remove the roof rack after purchase and install the roof rack delete kit?
     
  19. Sep 22, 2022 at 4:27 AM
    #19
    MeefZah

    MeefZah [OP] Curmudgeonly

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    There is a roof rack, it is the factory roof rack. No aftermarket roof rack was what I was trying to communicate. I think we can pretty much rule out roof racks and sunroofs as this is pretty evidently an AC thang. Thank you!
     
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  20. Sep 22, 2022 at 4:37 AM
    #20
    GrantA

    GrantA Enjoying God’s creation

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    I have a 3rd row and when I was running wire I found water under the 3rd row. Not sure if it came from my kids water bottle or not but I have heard another person on this forum have water penetrating into the cab and he took apart the entire inside to find the cause. Might be worth looking under all your carpet.
     
  21. Sep 22, 2022 at 10:01 AM
    #21
    Captain Spalding

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    Good morning. How did the Lysol treatment work out?
     
  22. Sep 22, 2022 at 12:52 PM
    #22
    MeefZah

    MeefZah [OP] Curmudgeonly

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    Seems better. I hit it a second time and also hit the spots suggested in the link posted above; the intake at the windshield and the drain. Currently in the garage with the cabin filter hatch off and a fan on.

    PXL_20220922_194940464.jpg
     
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  23. Sep 22, 2022 at 1:45 PM
    #23
    5six

    5six New Member

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    Musty smell reoccurring is usually water getting in the interior and sitting in material, especially with you noting it being after the car wash. Could be poor seal on top or side of doors openings or hatch. Best to remove any material floor mats if you have them, and run a dehumidifier in cargo area and keep the windows closed. But as others noted, need to find source off issue, if not at least where moisture is centralized.
     
  24. Sep 22, 2022 at 2:14 PM
    #24
    j cat

    j cat New Member

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    you have to take of the hvac plastic grill next to the wiper blade area .. then you have a load of crap in it and probably the rodent nest...
    the front fenders are a gap port and the water drains out then the rodents create the nest...clean it / inspect it ..
     
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  25. Sep 22, 2022 at 5:13 PM
    #25
    FN2187

    FN2187 Stormtrooper

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    Good thread. I wouldn't have expected A/C causing these issues since it looks like OP's is 2019 (same age as mine) so I've learned some good things that probably should have been more obvious to me. Specifically, turning off A/C a few miles before home and letting it dry out before parking
     
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  26. Sep 22, 2022 at 5:52 PM
    #26
    McSpazatron

    McSpazatron New Member

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    This habit would probably have the benefit of keeping rust away from the area in the frame the ac drains over.
     
  27. Sep 22, 2022 at 6:36 PM
    #27
    MeefZah

    MeefZah [OP] Curmudgeonly

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    Thanks. Checked. Immaculate in there. Like... Not even a leaf.
     
  28. Sep 22, 2022 at 8:12 PM
    #28
    mynameistory

    mynameistory New Member

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    The roof rack thing can happen even with factory racks. The side rails are removed and reinstalled at port if you option the factory crossbars.
     
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  29. Sep 22, 2022 at 10:40 PM
    #29
    4runningMan

    4runningMan New Member

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    Only the two plastic covers on the rear ends of the luggage rack rails are removed for installation of the crossbars. Not sure if crossbars could also be installed from the front, as I’ve never tried. Removing any of the plastic covers won’t affect the side rail installation in any way. It’s not necessary to touch the side rail installation hardware to install crossbars.
     
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  30. Sep 23, 2022 at 8:35 AM
    #30
    mynameistory

    mynameistory New Member

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    Got it, thank you for the clarification.
     

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