Is it safe to drive a car that has mold under the carpet?

My parents gifted me their 2002 VW Passat Wagon. After a few months, I noticed that a bag I left behind the driver’s seat was soaking wet. Since then, I have seen up to 2” of water there when it rains. There is definitely a leak. My parents were unaware of this issue so I am unsure how long it has been happening.

Is it safe to drive a car that has mold under the carpet? There is no mold visible on top of the carpet itself. However, some mold was visible on the leather seats when I didn’t drive the car for a week.

Financial resources are limited so any advice would be greatly appreciated before I bring it in to a repair shop to dig deeper. Thank you!


This is car talk, not doctor speak so I don’t know how safe it is.

The first step is to find out hoe the water is gettin in. Since the water ids in the second seat, I would suspect the second row doors. Open the doors and clean out the drain slots on the inside bottom of the doors. Inspect the roof edges for rust holes and the floor for rust holes.

If the floor is rusted through, the car is probably unsafe to drive.

Of course the car is safe to drive, but the question is whether breathing is important to you.

Seriously though, I’d first try to kill the mold by spraying vinegar and scrubbing with a brush. If that doesn’t work, you could try a bleach solution (if it doesn’t discolor the fabric), or a product like Concrobium Mold Control or Clorox Clinical spray. The link that Tester shared has more helpful information. I helped my mom clear out some light mold staining around the doors and on the trunk carpet, and the vinegar method worked for us, and the smell cleared within a couple days.

But I think it will be important to figure out how the water is getting in, and address that. I’d guess it is an issue with the weather stripping or window seals. You should look at that closely to see if it’s torn or improperly seated, and clean it if necessary. But it may be necessary to replace it in the area that’s allowing so much water to enter the car. More info here (there were a few useful links at the top of the results).

Good luck.

There’s good mold and bad mold but yeah not real helpful to breath it, especially if it is black. First thing though you need to get the leak fixed. Then you should probably pull the carpet and the pad underneath for a good cleaning.

if it has a sunroof the drains could be clogged

I would continue to drive the car.

However, as others noted, I would very soon remove the carpet and any padding, and then spray the flooring area with a bleach-&-water solution to kill the mold.

I’ve always had good luck with a bleach solution, though do wear a mask. You might want to try the vinegar solution that others have suggested.

Once it’s clean and the rugs are out, it’s hopefully easier to determine where the water is entering.

I wouldn’t until you get it fixed if you have no health problems now you will if you keep driveing it that way.

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Good idea to also crawl under the car (or remove the carpeting) in that area to see if the floor panels are rusted through or not. If they are, that needs to be addressed asap as it could allow exhaust gas to enter the passenger compartment