Rubbing Alcohol/Solvent Smell in Cabin


#1

Long time, first time.
2006 Toyota Matrix 66k miles.
I’ve recently developed a powerful rubbing alcohol or solvent smell in my car after it has been parked for some time, It has happened parking inside, outside, while the AC was running right before the car was turned off and when the AC was not turned on. Once the windows are opened and the car aired out, I can run the AC or blower without the smell returning.

After some preliminary digging, I found a post on Cartalk indicating it could be a cracked heater core and I’m smelling Antifreeze. I took the vehicle in to my mechanic and on my list of things to check was the smell. They could not find evidence of the smell, or a crack in the heater core, nor were any of my fluids low.
Might anyone have another possible source for this smell I could ask my mechanic about?
Thanks so much.


#2

Windshield washer fluid?


#3

Spilled bottle of hand sanitizer? Distinct possibility in my wife’s rolling trash can of a car.


#4

Look under the seats for a piece of citrus fruit (like an orange) that has spoiled to the point of having mold growing on it.


#5

I still support the antifreeze theory. If this condition persists, drive your car to the shop and let it sit overnight. Have the mechanic sniff it in the morning when the smell would be the strongest. Any experienced guy knows the difference between antifreeze and unrelated odors.

A defective heater core is a possibility, as is a cracked hose under the dash.


#6

Thanks for the responses, I checked under all the seats and could not find anything.
Today I tried not using the AC at all and when I came out to the car after work there was not a detectable scent.
I left the car overnight when it was serviced, and they said there was no smell in the morning, I might have to try it again.
Are there any other “alcohol” scents aside from Antifreeze and washer solution?


#7

Got one of these?
http://www.partsgeek.com/mmparts/cabin_filter/toyota/matrix.html

You can change it like this

Oh, yeah, and I get that smell when I use my window washer squirter often, like to help smear the bugs on the windshield. I use a “winter mix” fluid and some of them smell exactly as you describe when aerated.


#8

Did you recently have the car serviced or detailed? Perhaps a technician who worked on your car cleaned the steering wheel or something else in the car to remove grease or dirt that was on his hands. The cleaner he used may have contained some solvent that either is or smells like alcohol.


#9

You may have a clogged drain hose for the ac condensation, and it has become a living soup of bacterial action. Ask the shop to blow out the ac drain hose.