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Mold smell with windows down

After a torrential rain my 2004 Matrix started reeking of mold when I drive with windows open - took to dealership - 2 dealerships said they had NEVER heard of such a problem. They took door panels apart and there was some standing water collecting in bottom of car door - the drain holes were not plugged shut though according to repair technician - they dried the moisture and sprayed with lysol which I provided . . . anyone else had to deal with this . . . .still smells like mold and now like lysol, too. Why wouldn’t the dealership have a better way to deal with what can’t be as uncommon as they say?

Windows open stirs the air up more.
The standing water was in a place without drainage? Sounds odd.
Did they check under the rug?

How did the doors retain water if the drain holes were clear?

Good question - there are 3 drain holes and they seem to be clear but there are litte pools of water in between where the drain holes are . . . definitely where the mold smell is coming from . . . they repair technician said he would dry the moisture then he sprayed with lysol - which is a whole other stench on its own . . . .mold odor still coming from the doors though, esp with windows down.

no - but the interior of the car is dry . . .only inside the doors themselves seems to have gotten wet - the technician dried the moisture and sprayed with lysol but that wasn’t very effective at eliminating the problem…

There was a post very similar to yours recently. Same problem. The mold smell was coming from the doors, not the interior of the car.

If you’re still smelling mold the moisture must still be there. If water pools between the drain holes and remains inside the door I don’t see how you’ll ever get rid of the mold. How many doors are affected?

Have you removed the inner door panels and checked this out for yourself? Maybe the dealer tech didn’t really clean the mold and dampness out before spraying with lysol. It seems to me that if all the mold had been cleaned up there wouldn’t be any more mold odor.

I’m surprised the lysol smell hasn’t dissipated by now, too. Of course, there’s not a lot of air circulation inside the door.

My guess is that the door panels themselves are harboring the mold. The compressed materials they’re typicaly made of provide a good growing surface. Remove the panels, put your nose close to the back of them, and sniff.

If my guess is right, you’ll need to replace the panels.

Thanks for the posts. The tech did remove the door panels and moisture / water was pooling in the metal door frame but that 's a very good point . . . mold could be growing on the door panels/molding too . . . they are supposed to put new molding/ stripping around the windows this week . . . the toyota techs said they’ve never seen this problem and act as though they really don’t know how to proceed.

The techs are probably baffled. This is not a common problem. Are they charging you for this work or is it being covered under some sort of warranty? This sort of work is mostly labor and could get expensive.

There should be a plastic liner, often called a “shower curtain,” between the metal door and the inner door panel. This plastic liner is designed to keep the inner door panel from getting wet when water inevitably gets into the door. This liner would have had to be removed or cut to access the lowest parts of the door, where the water is pooling.

If the inner panels are the source of the mold smell the plastic liner is not doing it’s job.

I’d want to examine the inside of each door before they reinstall the inner panels to verify that all water is gone and that the inside of the door is clean, dry, and free of mold.

Maybe you’re not inclined to do it, but if this were my vehicle I’d be taking the door panels off and checking out the insides of the doors for myself. If they’re holding water there’s a problem.

Thanks again - yes, it’s costing me big time for labor so far . . . I may have to become ‘inclined’ to take the panels off and see what I can do. I do have to go back as they are putting on new stripping around the borders of two front windows.

I think they are baffled . . . more used to mechanical problems. The access to the insides of the doors is actually pretty limited by the openings in the metal.

I wonder if a body shop might be more helpful than a dealer. The body shop technicians may have dealt with problems like this in the past.

I thought about that as well . . . I’ll make some calls. Thanks for the suggestion. T

Ok, So probably this reply is 10 years late but this is for anyone with the same problem and can’t find a solution. There’s very little out there on this specific problem so home this helps. I bought a 2 year old Acura TLX. After the dealer perfume wore off I noticed the same problem. Mildew smell when the windows were down. I’m fairly mechanical so I started an all out search for this smell. I pulled the head liner, went under the carpet, ripped everything out of the trunk, pulled up the back seats, and nothing. I was convinced this car may have been in a flood. Finally I took the door panels off. Door panels usually come off any car with 3 screws (usually behind the door handle and the grab handle) I found that there was a mold smell inside the doors and mostly around the window seals. If you get the door panels off you’ll really be able to expose these on both sides and clean the seals. I used Clorox wipes followed up with a microfiber towel and some Super Clean mixed 5-1, plus sprayed the super clean anywhere I could find a hole into the inner door panel. You could pull the plastic raincoat, but this looked like a much bigger ordeal. It was stuck too well and figured it wouldn’t reseal. So this is what I did and fortunately problem SOLVED!!