2012 Volkswagen New Beetle smells like steamed cauliflower

My car has suddenly started smelling like steamed cauliflower. I like cauliflower but not the odor when it is cooking, especially in my car. None of the warning lights are on and it is running OK. Do you suspect a mechanical problem?

No, mechanical problems don’t usually smell like cauliflower. Have you just started using the heater? Does the smell coincide with the use of the heater?

Thanks, it has just occurred to me that I should open the hood to see if squirrels have been storing their foodstuffs in my engine compartment.

If you have a cabin air filter, start by seeing if something unusual is in that area.

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That would be something! The squirrels near me just eat acorns and stuff off the ground, but gourmet squirrels who’ve learned to steam cauliflower would be a sight to behold!

If it’s not the rodents, you might want to check under the car seats and in the trunk, just in case not all groceries made it from car to home and are decomposing there. :face_with_hand_over_mouth:


It could be a leaking heater core. I’ve had two of these over the years and depending on the age of the coolant it can smell like stale curry or cauliflower…

Have the cooling system checked for leaks as well. A fogged up windshield would be a sure sign of a leaking heater core.

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Another possibility is a bad battery, reminds me more of cauliflower than a leaking heater core.

Thanks everyone, I drove quite a bit today and except for stinky dog, there was no objectionable odor. Recently had radiator flush, new battery, air filter, oil change, new heater fan motor, etc. I will keep in mind a possible leaking heater core because it was quite possibly the only thing not replaced or replenished. Hoping it was just some outdoor stench that crept in when I opened my car door.

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