Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Dead animal smell - Toyota Tacoma


I’m being overwhelmed by a dead animal smell in my 2000 Toyota Tacoma. I’m sure it’s in the ventilation system. I’ve removed the cowling under the windshield, but still can’t get into the ventilation channels. Is there any other way to get in there that’s fairly easy? I’m not up to removing the dashboard.



Try removing the blower motor from under the passenger side dash. Then reach up into the vent system to see if you can feel the dead critter. I recommend wearing a latex glove when doing this.


Agree with Tester but I think you will find the critter in the squirrel cage of the blower motor.

Once you DO get the animal out, your car will still have a lingering smell. Chlorine Dioxide will help you get rid of that. Use Nok-Out ( in a common household vaporizer, when a fog has developed inside the car, turn on the AC, set it to recirculate the inside air and let it run for about 10 minutes. This will apply Nok-Out to all surfaces, even in the places you can’t easily get to.

If its a mouse, the smell will go away in about a day. Leave the windows open.

But, you’re not up for getting into the dash. I don’t know much myself about where all the ventilation goes, so I’m going to say these other guys are probably right in saying you’ll have to buck up and do it if you want it to be done right.

Now, a good way to do it wrong: Get the fans running, I recommend on the defroster and floor mix, and get them going full speed. I’d even say to maybe turn the A/C on, but leave the recirculation OFF, so the air is coming from outside. Spray your favorite air freshener into the intake vents near the bottom of your windshield. I don’t know exactly where that is on the Tacoma, so it may be that you have to lift the hood. Spray a good amount in there. Let the fans run a bit longer, and then shut off the car.

Again, it’s not a fix, it’s a cover-up. But, when somebody smokes in one of my rental cars, it does the trick pretty well - for a week or so. By then, the cigarette smell disappates. The dead critter in YOUR engine, however, is still there. So, if you’re still not up for getting into the dash, repeat the cover up as needed ad infinitum.

Generally you can remove the blower motor without tearing the dash out. It’s located under and behind the glove box and usually drops out after you remove 3 screws.

Once that’s removed, you can reach into the next chamber over (evap chamber) and feel around to see if anything’s dead in there. Or, if you have a webcam, stick that in there and watch your laptop screen. If there’s a mess in there beyond just a dead animal (sometimes they’ll store things like dog food in the squirrel cage and that will get shredded and blown into the evap coils where it gets wet and forms a perfect breeding ground for bugs) you can spray it out with a hose - the water will drain out through the drain pan - and then treat it with the Nok-Out.

1 Like