How to get a Dead Animal Smell out of Your Car

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Dead animals can cause nasty smells in your car, especially if they die under the hood, which is surprisingly common. Thankfully, there are easy ways to get rid of the dead animal smell.
There are many things that can create bad smells in your car: a spilled yogurt, a piece of lunch meat dropped under the seat, the dreaded hockey equipment that’s been in your child’s locker for the last six games. But if you’re smelling a particularly bad smell in your vehicle and you can’t find its source in the cabin, its origin might be a dead carcass under your hood.

What causes your car to smell like dead animal?

It isn’t uncommon for small animals, like mice and rats, to crawl under the hood of cars and hang out by the engine bay for warmth. Problems arise when the car is turned on or the animal simply perishes on its own.
This is sure to cause a bad smell for your car, but the problem gets even worse if the animal dies near your ventilation system. Make sure you keep an eye (or an ear) out for small animals near your car in the winter.
Animals also have a habit of seeking warmth in your home and then dying in your walls, which is also a particularly miserable experience to rectify. If you’re looking for one piece of good news, cars are a lot easier to air out than entire homes.
Key Takeaway: Small animals can cause your car to stink by crawling under your hood and then dying there, especially if they do so near the ventilation system. Be especially on guard against animals doing this near the winter, and keep in mind that they can get into your home as well.
If you have a dead animal carcass under your hood, here’s how to get rid of the dead animal odor.

Remove the dead animal

To start chipping away at the smell, you have to remove the source. Put on gloves and a face mask and start your search. Odds are, the dead animal is lodged somewhere under the hood of your car.
If you can’t find the animal, it’s probably because it is nestled or tangled in your car’s machinery. In fact, you may have to remove some of your car’s mechanisms to access the carcass. If this is the case, it’s advisable to take your car to a professional for dead animal removal so you don’t risk ruining anything under your hood.

Eliminate the lingering odor

Once the animal has been removed, the smell is probably less intense, but still lingering. Leaving it to air out while hiding in your house probably won’t do the trick either; the affected area could potentially smell for months. It’s a good idea to tackle the smell head-on.

If the animal is under the hood

If the animal was found in the hood of the car in a place that was far away from the ventilation system, the odor might not have circulated too much. If that’s the case, you can focus on cleaning the parts of the vehicle that had contact with the dead animal.
Put on gloves and use a commercial disinfectant (a dead mouse odor neutralizer is a great way to get rid of the smell) or a diluted bleach solution. Once that is done, let the car air out.

If the animal died near the vents

However, if the animal died near the car’s ventilation system, the odor might have spread throughout the car. If this is the case, you will need to clean the whole vehicle by applying a commercial or homemade odor neutralizer and airing out the car.
Possible homemade odor neutralizers include baking soda, activated charcoal, white vinegar, and ground coffee.
If the smell is still there after you’ve removed the dead animal, disinfected the car, and applied an odor neutralizer–it might be time to get professionals involved. Take your car to a car wash, explain the situation, and request a deep clean.
Key Takeaway: Finding the body near the ventilation system means you’ll have to clean your whole car with commercial disinfectant and deodorizer, and not just the affected area. If cleaning doesn’t make the smell go away, you’ll have to take it to the car wash and request a deep clean.
Though having to deal with the stench once they die is bad enough, animal invaders can also chew through your wiring and cause power shorts and system failures. If this happen while you’re driving, it could lead to a nasty accident.
You’ll really want the right kind of car insurance should that happen. But finding good insurance can be complicated, and the last thing you probably want is more stress. That’s where the Jerry app can help by finding you the best and most affordable quote estimates from over 40 providers, paperwork free.


What does a dead animal smell like?

If you’re wondering if your car smells like dead animal, you should be able to identify the smell by a few key characteristics. The dead carcass will smell like decomposing tissue, which is a putrid lingering smell.
The smell may be subtle at first, but as the animal decays more and more, it’s sure to become more pungent. Some have even described the scent as being similar to rotting cabbage.

Will vinegar get rid of dead animal smells?

Vinegar by itself probably won’t get rid of the smell, though it is a good idea to place a bowl of vinegar or baking soda in your car after all of the other disinfecting steps have taken place. This is another step that could help ease the smell.

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