2006 CRV Chemical smell inside cabin

My wife has a 2006 Honda CR-V. She purchased new and has had it serviced at the dealer for all the regular service intervals and fluid changes etc. Her last service was about 1 month ago. She’s never had any issues with the engine, brakes, transmission or heating/cooling systems.

Yesterday it was 91 degrees outside. When she went to her car to come home after work, the cabin smelled like chemicals. The best descriptor is the fumes from spray glue. She aired out the car and drove home. She did not smell anything on the ride home. This morning before work, the smell returned. I went to check it out and when I opened the passenger door, the smell was very strong. It was not sweet nor the smell of decay. It was a very strong chemical smell. I looked around the cabin and under the seats looking for any items that may have become so warm the glue melted and separated. Nothing.

This car has seen its share of direct sun and 100 degree days, so I don’t think anything inside delaminated.

I’m a lifetime boater and have smelled more than my share of gas, gas leaks and gas fumes. This did not smell like any gas fume I’ve experienced. I would be very surprised if its related to a gas leak.

After reading these forums and searching around, it seems like it might be a heating core leak. I have not checked those levels. There was no moisture inside the car.

Anyone have any thoughts? Thanks!

Coolant will have a sweet smell. If the heater core is leaking, you should find the passenger floor damp.
Note that if the car is sitting in the sun and the floor is damp and is close to your body temp…you may not feel the dampness. You can use a few paper towels and press them around the floor. If there is a leak the paper towel will be dampened somewhere on the floor.


what all was done at the last service? Anything that would require moving of carpet, headliner, or door panels?

Thanks! She is checking the moisture now with a paper towel. Definitely no sweet smell.

They did fix the motor for the drivers power window. That would involve the plastic protector and glue!

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I can’t imagine why glue would be involved in a window lift motor repair. How long ago was that done?

It was done about 30 days ago. This is the first real heat wave we’ve had. The few times I’ve removed my door panel to work on the locks/window mechanism, there has been a plastic vapor barrier that has a sticky substance around the perimeter to keep it in place. That’s the only glue type material I’m aware of that could be in there.

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Check any storage compartments like the console, door pockets, and glove box.

Maybe a container of "finger nail polish or remover, can of lock thaw, a spray can of some type, WD40, etc. etc… may have opened on accident.

You would be surprised at what some people have stowed in their glove box and console.

I have found everything from melted crayons, set up wood glue, to dried up salad dressing on some cars.


The odor is probably some material used in the interior of the vehicle out gassing.

If you think of the adhesives, plastics, vinyls, foams, synthetic carpets, etc…, it isn’t that uncommon.


in a 12 year old car?


I’ve seen cars older than this where the inside of the windshield starts to form a haze from the dash panel out gassing.


I suspect that the temperature has been this high before where the OP lives. If the car didn’t smell like this before, it is probably a new issue. I suspect a heater core issue, or some other leak that would dump coolant into the cabin.

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Why are you telling me this?

Shouldn’t you be telling the OP your opinion?


Evaporator coil refrigerant leaks will produce a chemical smell.

I went to her car at lunch because it still smelled and did a thorough check. How’s this for a car-talk answer!

She has a plastic tote in the back which has water, blanket, emergency kit and portable battery jumper. I pulled everything out and the smell was overwhelming. There was a black plastic glad garbage bag in the tote. There was a section that was melted!

This was under the blanket so not receiving direct sunlight. My only thought is that the positive and negative terminals in the portable jumper battery somehow made a connection, maybe some moisture, and sent a current that contacted the plastic bag. The actual alligator clips were secure and did not touch.

Kinda scary when I think about it…


Good for you for discovering the problem. Yes, something like that could cause a good deal more trouble than just an off-odor.

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Glad that you found the source of the odor.

Tonight we went for dinner about a 20 minute drive from the house.
We kept hearing a rattle that sounded like an aspirin bottle with just a few aspirin rolling around.

We searched and could find nothing that would make the sound.
I noticed that when the wife put her sun visor back up the noise stopped.

Turned out to be the metal clip on the garage door remote. It was loose and rattled against the remote.

Goofy things happen!!!


Those trash bags now are biodegradable if that helps at all. I don’t know what conditions cause them to dissolve but maybe simulated being underground.