Parts from a smoker's car = my car stinks

This is my first actual question to this board, kind of exciting.

Anyway, I recently did a whole bunch of work to my '90 Thunderbird. Swapped in a 5.0L V8, and with it, some interior stuff. Chiefly, the automatic climate control system out of a newer T-bird.

That stuff works great, the problem is, the car that it came from was a smoker’s car and the stink of tobacco must have permeated the plastic HVAC housing and residual dust and junk that I couldn’t vacuum out. I didn’t even swap over the vent duct work, just the plastic housing that holds the heater core, condenser, blower, etc.

The smell is not overpowering, and after the fan blows for a minute or two, it’s mostly dissipated, but I’ve noticed that the interior of my car is starting to take on that “4 packs a day” odor, if only subtly.

I have heard of people spraying Fabreeze (no clue how to spell that one) in to their fresh air intake to kill off mildew and mold smells… think that’d work for neutralizing tobacco odor? Suggestions on something that I can do to the vent system that will neutralize the odor, not just try to mask it with some horrible chemical interpretation of fresh flowers or spring dew?



There are 2 solutions to your problem. The interior can be vacuumed and scrubbed out with carpet cleaner and a brush. You can buy these kits at auto supply stores. After that keep a couple of “bounce” towels, the kind your wife throws in the dryer to make the clothes smell fresh, under the front seat.

The ducts can fumigated out with an A/C kit called Wynn’s FRESH AIR. It is sprayed liberally into the air intake for 15 seconds from the outside with the fan on high. Keep windows open to promote flow. Then wait 15 minutes to do its work. Then do the sam thing for the heating circuit. Instructions are on the can. About $12.

This has really worked for us when we bought a smoker’s car.

“After that keep a couple of “bounce” towels, the kind your wife throws in the dryer to make the clothes smell fresh, under the front seat.”

If the driver or any of the usual passengers has asthma or allergies, I DO NOT recommend this. The smell of those god-awful scented dryer sheets will cause my lungs to constrict faster than just about any other allergen.

Adding fumes of that nature to the confined interior of a car is not good for anyone, and can be potentially very dangerous for anyone with a respiratory condition. When my neighbor uses those G*d-damned dryer sheets in her clothes dryer, I can’t stay outdoors, and our houses are not even that close!

Same with me on the dryer sheets. Too bad you did not scrub out the ducts before installing them. Some spray might work, but it will have to be something that will chemically react with the smoke-derived stuff that is coating the inside of the ducts. Depending on the duct set-up you may be able to spray some detergent into parts of them through the blower motor or control unit openings in the plenum.

I forgot to add that after doing this you park the car in the garage with all the windows open for a long time. The smell will eventually disappear. The Wynn stuf is actually a fungicide, which is meant to not only take the musty smell out of the A/C dust but also prevent you from catching “legionnaire’s desease”.

Neither my wife or I have allergies, and we could tolerate the bounce smell much better than the cigarette smoke.

Well thankfully, the interior is not yet all that bad. You notice it just a little when you first get in to the car, and you’re used to it very quickly. It doesn’t make your clothes smell, or anything like that, but I’m afraid with continued exposure (and because this is Oregon and you don’t roll down your windows for 4 or 5 months out of the year), the rest of the cloth will start to stink.

I’ll definitely look for Wynn’s Fresh Air, and try that right away. I think if I can get the smell out of the HVAC box, the rest of the interior will eventually air out.

I would have loved to have washed out the HVAC box before installing it, but it’s a pretty complex system of doors, it’s a molded shape, and it would have been very difficult to split it. I replaced the heater core while I had it out, and put the vacuum nozzle in where I could, however, and managed to remove a lot of lint/dust/gunk.

Thanks for the replies, folks.