The 2008 car smells a little like sauerkraut - what can be done?

In our quest for a used car we’ve come across one we’re considering but it smells a little like sauerkraut. What could it be? Can a car smell, like this, ever be totally eliminated? If so, how? The car is a 2008 Honda Pilot with leather seats.The dealer doesn’t know anything about the cause of the smell.

Since the odor of sauerkraut is caused by fermentation, chances are something is fermenting in the car or the ventilation system or something that was fermented was once spilled on the carpet or seats.

If it’s the latter, a good carpet cleaning shuld eliminate the problem. If it’s in the ventilation system, I’m not sure what would help, and I’d like to know the answer myself.

Then again, you might want to look into some recipes that include sauerkraut. If you like them, the odor in your car might end up being a good thing.

Probably spilled food, but could be a leak with some odd mold growing that smells like that. It would be good to look at the car after a rain or a car wash and feel all over the inside looking for dampness.

Is the smell coming out of the A/C vents? Would probably smell more when the A/C is turned off then when it is on. An A/C evaporator is a favorite spot for mildew.

Spilled milk or a ‘latte’ which is mostly milk. Get down on your hands ans knees and do a ‘sniff’ test around the entire van - chances are you’ll find the smell.

Another thing used car dealers do is shampoo carpets in a car, then roll the windows up and throw it on the lot for sale. The moisture can’t evaporate anywhere and mildews in place. Pull up the floor mats (if there are any), see if it’s moist and growing anything.

Usually if it was easy to fix the dealer would have already done that. My guess is they couldn’t get rid of it and just want to unload it as is.