Mildew smell in 2004 Camry

I’ve been noticing a mildew smell when I open my car door, but don’t feel any wetness. I’m not sure if this could be related to a car wash or oil change - if something got accidentally dislodged or clogged.

It’s probably from leaves and assorted debris getting into the heater’s air intake in front of the windshield. Try turning the blower on high, air intake to outside air, and spraying some Lysol or other mold killing disinfectant into the air intake while it’s running.

Make sure the evaporator drain tube is not clogged. If it is, water can remain in the HVAC system and you will get a nasty odor. The tube is located on the firewall, low on the passenger side of the vehicle.

If that’s not the problem, lift the floor mats and feel under them for wet carpeting. There may be a leak somewhere.

I got the Lysol and tried that. The grillwork is small - it’s hard to see how leaves could have gotten in.

I couldn’t find the evaporator drain tube itself or any reference to it in the manual. Is it on the side of the passenger door, or on the underside?

The first thing you need to do is to determine if this smell is stronger with the AC blower going or with it off. If the former, the source is in the HVAC system. If the latter, you have something in the cabin that is getting moldy. By they way you describe it, I suspect it is in the cabin. What is the climate like where you live, damp?

Make sure your spare tire isn’t under water.

I live in Manhattan, in NYC, and my car is garaged on nights and weekends. When I used the car today, I tested a few things out and found the smell was stronger when I turned the blower on the setting that circulates the air inside the cabin, rather than when fresh air was drawn in from the outside, or when the a/c itself was put on. I don’t know what in the cabin is getting moldy, and don’t feel anything wet, but I sprayed the Lysol on the carpeting on the driver’s side, front and back. I wondered if there could be something wrong with the door seals.

There may be a simple solution…I had an “awful” moldy, mildewy, disgusting smell in my 03 Camry, at least according to my wife…I told her if she didn’t like the way I smelled she could walk…but seriously, there was an odor, but I just learned to ignore it, because I was too lazy (and cheap) to check out what I figured it was.

So, finally, after wife threatened never to get in the car again, I popped open the glove box, disengaged the retaining ears and removed the hydralic arm retainer and took out the cabin air filter.

Removed the three dead baby mice…the remains of the mouse nest and noting that the filter was too badly chewed to repair with duct tape, bit the bullet and bought a new Bosch aftermarket cabin filter for $24.

Presto. Smell was gone. So, moral is, check the cabin filter. It might be gunked up…you really should be replacing that filter every 30K or less anyway, depending on your driving habits and the number of mice in your neighborhood.

I’m not getting the smell in the trunk, so I hesitate to take all the stuff out of the trunk to check for sure. I’ll consider that an option if none of the other solutions work.

You may have a dirty evaporator. Try DWD2 evaporator cleaner. Google “DWD2”. But first I recommend changing your cabin air filter and making sure the evaporator drainage tube is open. I’ve used DWD2 successfully on my 1992 Honda Accord. I haven’t needed it on my 1998 Accord because I change the filter at 30k mile intervals.

I can’t say DWD2 is better than cheap things like Lysol. I’ve never tried Lysol.

DWD2 requires drilling a hole upstream of the evaporator coil and inserting a nozzle to spray the foam directly at the coil. If you’re unsure of exactly where the evaporator coil is, don’t drill a hole. Big bucks if you drill a hole into the coil.

Having sprayed a too liberal amount of Lysol on the inside, since I thought it might help if there was mold or mildew on interior carpeting, I now have an overwhelming Lysol smell to contend with. I think the Lysol it may have either masked or gotten rid of the mildew odor, but now I think I will have to have the interior shampooed to get rid of the Lysol odor. I still have to check the cabin air filter - I’ve been on vac. so this exercise got delayed.