My car is ruined by skunk. UPDATE

2013 Prius, 6 k miles. She was driving car home from work and hit a skunk and killed it with all the windows open, now the car reeks so bad its ruined. i washed off the underside and the outside of the car and its fine, its the interior that stinks. It wasn’t her fault but she has bad luck with cars. My friend also has bad luck with cars.
What do I do?

Call your insurance agent and let them take over.

Take it through the carwash several times to get the outside smell out. I would shampoo the interior several times, take the floor mats and pour tomato juice over them; it really works.

I assume this is a real problem, not a hypothetical one.

Your car is not ruined. Your wife did not do it; the skunk did!

I have heard that brewed coffee leftover absorbs smells well. Have tried it once with good luck for a minor smell issue.

As long as no skunk juice got inside the car, the residual odor will slowly dissipate. A good professional detail shop may be able to help…

Get a couple of aluminum roasting pans from the grocery store. Take some towels you don’t care for and place them into the roasting pans. Place the pans on the floor of the front and rear seat.

Now take some distilled white vinegar and soak the towels. Let the soaked towels sit in the pans overnight.


I would think pouring tomato juice on carpeted floor mats would stain them.

Have you called a detailer? I sent a friend who had mice get into her car and die, stinking up the thing with rot that wouldn’t go away to my detailer, and he got all the smell out.

A body shop or a detail shop can get a ionizer or it might be called a deionizer. Let them run the machine in the car for a day.

I recently inspected a vehicle that creamed a deer and guts, meat and manure entered the cabin via the knocked out windshield. It was in the 90’s the week I saw it and it sat there 4 days before I got the assignment. It was horrible!!! It sat another two weeks waiting for parts.
After repairs were completed the owner called me to ask a question and he stated there was barely a hint of the odor.

And don’t blame she for ruining the car. She hit a skunk. Do you think she did it on purpose?

I used to drive by a whole family of skunks everyday when I lived in Colorado. I’d often stop the car and watch them. Skunks are really playful and clever. These ones weren’t suicidal though, so I never myself encountered the problematic side of skunks and their relationship to cars. They do run quite fast and corner quickly, so it would be difficult to avoid one that was determined to get run over I think. My guess is the odor will for the most part just go away on its own, but it might take a few car washes and a few months. You may have to put the car on a lift and wash the underside that way. The more you drive the car, the quicker it will go away too I expect. I guess besides the remedies above, I’d be inclined to put a big tray of 1/2 inch of baking soda in the car and let it sit, replacing it every few days.

The smell will leave,leave the windows down every oppurtunity-some people have problems avoiding animals(never understood why so many possums get ran over)-Kevin

Come back to reality. Your car is not ruined and your girl is not to blame. There are many good suggestions above regarding your car. Try them. Then show a little sympathy for the driver.

@shadowfax I recommended pouring tomato juice on the floor mats if they are rubber and doing it outside the car of course!

Other suggestions from posters make a lot of sense.

Some 30+ years ago … Spencer gifts use to sell Skunk Smell air fresheners. I bought one and put it my friends car. He drove around in the middle of winter of winter for a couple of days before he realized where the smell was coming from.

In addition to cleaning the interior, or having your insurance company handle it, there are portable air purifiers that can help eliminate odors. These are usually “ozone” air purifiers. A good 30 minute “scrub” with an strong ozone purifier might do wonders. You can rent them, too.

My daughter is trying to get into med or vet school (don’t know yet) but both require working in a clinical setting with your application. She worked for a vet last summer and I remember her telling me that her vet sold a product which dealt with this issue when dogs get “skunked”. Want me to call and get the product name? Rocketman

I don’t think any of the skunk got into the interior of the car, but you should pull the front windshield fairing and clean out around the air intake, as far down as you can reach. Then replace the cabin air filter as it will hold most of the “juice”.

You cannot clean out under the car unless you put it up on a rack. You could try ramps or jack stands, but that puts you directly under the stuff you are trying to remove, it could drip on you.

Skunks get hit a lot. In their natural environment, they are not afraid of much. Not many predators will risk getting sprayed. when they hear a predator running up on them, they hike their butt in the air and fire. That stops almost all predators.

Unfortunately for them, a car sounds just like a predator coming at them so the respond in the same way. They do not try to get out of the way. Typically they are blasting the car just before it hits them. There was a Nature special on skunks on PBS. Quite interesting. BTW, cats and skunks will become friends and cats will share their food with them. Dogs not so much, thats why dogs get sprayed more often than cats.

UPDATE- I have state farm full coverage and Its in their hands now.

I tried pans of vinegar, febreeze, bio-kleen, a homemade cleaner… airing out the car for 3 days, The smell is on the interior of the car the windows were open when she hit the skunk. When she walked in the house she smelled like she got sprayed by a skunk, her clothes she was wearing still smell after washing them.

The smell inside the car has dissipated a tad but its still so strong that no one has been able to go in the car for very long, My eyes water and I feel nauseous just sitting in the drivers seat trying to put the windows down. I know it sounds extreme but 4 people have agreed its horrible, even 2 people that thought I was exaggerating.

The car was deemed not drivable due to the smell by state farm, it got towed to a toyota dealer body shop today and see what they can do. There is no body damage but state farm said to take it to a body shop and go from there. I have a rental car but I miss the Prius.

Somehow spray got into the interior, the drivers seat back and headrest seem the worst. What can you do… The tow truck dude thought it was stupid to tow a car that had no body or mechanical damage… Until he got in it, he had to get out to get air, its that bad. He smelled like skunk once he got out, he said he never seen anything like it.

Its going to have to go on a lift to completely clean the underside and the interior is anyone’s guess.

There are two people on the internet that claim their cars were totaled due to the skunk smell, they claim its almost impossible to completely remove.

The car is a lease with 31 months to go, it had 5k miles on it. Depending on what the bodyshop says I will call the leasing company since its their car. I don’t want this to be an issue when I turn it in. I was going to keep the car but now since its tainted its going back at the end of the lease.

I don’t hold her responsible, there are so many animals that get hit around here, I have a friend that has had a total of over 17k of animal related repairs on a 2007 civic over the life of the car, 80% of the car has been repainted. He got married and was driving his new wifes focus for a total of 3 days before he tagged a deer, it was wiped out bad.

It just plain sucks, I am very sensitive to smells, I am worried this won’t end up well… Time will tell…

Thanks for all of the help!!
I will keep updating…

@kmccune "(never understood why so many possums get ran over)

It’s because they are stupid. The first car that whooshes by them causes them to go into “playing possum” mode. The second one hits the dormant future greasy spot.

The good thing is, animal strikes are considered comprehensive claims by State Farm and other insurance companies. It’s like they are acts of God because He created them dumb.

I’m surprised that fresh air and sunshine have not dissipated the skunk smell by now. I mean, when a skunk has sprayed anything near my house, the smell is totally gone in a day or three. I used to shoot skunks from my back porch when I was a kid on the farm. Shooting them always caused a stink. They’d come into the yard at night, looking for left over cat food. By morning they’d be gone, scavenged by birds of prey with a poor sense of smell. I’m told owls qualify. I’ve hit several with cars, and even one while landing my old Piper Cherokee one night. I’ve never had an issue with lingering smell.

Please let us know what the insurance company does for you. Inquiring minds want to know.

Thanks for the update. I’m sure the body shop guys are cursing your name. Half the crew probably called in sick to avoid working on your car.