My car smells like weed. I didn’t smoke weed in my car. Help!
December 9, 2019 6:11 AM   Subscribe

I went shopping yesterday at the mall. I parked in the parking garage. My car was locked. We shopped about an hour. When we opened the car doors, it smelled like someone had been hot boxing in my car. It reeked of weed. We didn’t smoke any weed in the car, we didn’t have any weed in our possession. How I can fix this??

We drove with the sunroof open, and the windows down for about 45 minutes. Went to another store. STILL SMELLED LIKE WEED.

We drove for 20 minutes, again, windows down, sunroof open. STILL SMELLED LIKE WEED. So we bought a Febreeze air vent thing. Drove home two hours, sunroof open, Febreeze hopefully doing its thing.

I opened my car this morning and it still smells like weed. We have looked all over in the car, in the engine, in the trunk, we cannot find any reason why my car smells like weed.

What happened to my car???

More importantly, how can I fix this?
posted by bodgy to Home & Garden (18 answers total)
I can't help you with how it happened, sorry. But Febreeze will kill that odor. We lived in a house that stank of weed (neither of us smokes...). Our college-age neice knew the solution. She was right. Get some Febreeze and saturate the interior. You may have to do it twice. It will not damage the fabric.
posted by Enid Lareg at 6:26 AM on December 9, 2019 [7 favorites]

Sprayed by a skunk, maybe? I don’t know what to do about it, though.
posted by something something at 6:27 AM on December 9, 2019 [14 favorites]

Febreze is good, OdoBan is also great for getting weird odors out.
posted by rachaelfaith at 6:47 AM on December 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

Sounds like you got some spray from a skunk. Wash the exterior (particularly the wheels and undercarriage) with white vinegar and lots of water, as soon as possible, and the interior as thoroughly as you can with dilute hydrogen peroxide and lots of water (about a billion damp rags should do it). Hydrogen peroxide can mess up your upholstery, though, so you'll have to decide on balance which is more important to you. After you're done, air it as much as you can to dry it out and then tuck Bad Air Sponges into every cup holder for several weeks. Good luck - skunk spray sucks but if you act fast you can abate it a LOT.
posted by DSime at 6:53 AM on December 9, 2019 [5 favorites]

I'd also try and find a car cleaning place that has a wet upholstery scrubber/vac. My cat pissed in a soft carrier I was using to take him to the vet and saturated my seat and using an upholstery scrubber/vac was the only thing that helped deal with that in any significant manner.
posted by Ferreous at 7:22 AM on December 9, 2019

If you want to nuke the smell ASAP and don't mind paying for it to happen, what you need is a visit to a car detailing shop that offers ozoning as a service. It's not a DIY solution, but it'll work!
posted by rossferguson at 7:29 AM on December 9, 2019 [4 favorites]

Were you recently running your front defogger? You can get some mold build-up in the A/C system between summer and winter (since you're not using it very much in the fall), and then the first time you use the defog the A/C kicks in to remove moisture and BAM you get a funky smell.

Wouldn't say it's 100% weed-like, but it stinks. Just an idea.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:56 AM on December 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Another possible smell, not particularly weedlike, is antifreeze. Were your windows fogged up? Antifreeze is somewhat toxic so keep your windows open. Any mechanic will recognize the smell.
posted by H21 at 8:07 AM on December 9, 2019

Unless someone threw an actual baggie of weed into your car, and it's still there, you aren't smelling weed. Even if they hotboxed in your car the smell would be gone in a day if you left the windows open. Try taking the car through a thorough external car wash FIRST. That could be the source of the smell. Give it a day or three before moving on to the interior of the car.
posted by Patapsco Mike at 8:19 AM on December 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

Ozium. You can buy it in the automotive section of any store usually.
posted by Young Kullervo at 8:46 AM on December 9, 2019 [4 favorites]

Yeah, I'm team There's Something (Not Weed) In Or On Your Car. Some kind of food rolled to an inaccessible place*, you have a newly-emergent mold/mildew problem, a skunk or tomcat or other wildlife sprayed the car (possibly even from underneath the engine, for extra inaccessibility), or you have a wiring/electrical issue (melting wire insulation has a nasty odor). I would inspect the engine compartment and then interior with a bright flashlight and remove anything loose, vacuum as well as you can at home to see if you dislodge anything from under the seat. If you don't find the culprit do the car wash-detail service. If THAT doesn't work escalate to a mechanic, who probably can diagnose with a sniff-test.

*Also look for mouse droppings.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:52 AM on December 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Look under the hood and see if some kind of plant matter has fallen inside the engine or inside the vents under the windshield. This sounds bizarre but my car smelled like a bakery (like, grandma’s making cookies, but SO INTENSE it was nauseating) and we found that a squirrel or rat had stashed cookies all over the engine, like, one even inside the plastic cover of the battery (they were Oreos, and the animal had licked all the cream out first, proving that even squirrels know how to eat Oreos right).
posted by holyrood at 8:56 AM on December 9, 2019 [46 favorites]

> What happened to my car???

Did you hit a skunk? Possibly a skunk someone else had already hit? I did that once and the results were unpleasant.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:23 AM on December 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Did you get a new steering wheel cover?
I had one once that made the whole car smell like weed until it eventually went away. It was super embarrassing.
posted by exceptinsects at 9:44 AM on December 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

If you replace the cabin air filter (in many cars this takes about a minute) with an activated charcoal one (few bucks on Amazon), it can destinkify a car that's starting to get a dank basement smell from the AC.

Your case sounds a bit more severe though.
posted by w0mbat at 11:22 AM on December 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

If you choose a DIY route, ozone generators are available for rent.
posted by dlwr300 at 1:05 PM on December 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Have you checked under all the seats etc for something stinky? I had a jar of asafoetida roll under the car seat once, and it took me ages to work out why my car smelt so awful.
posted by kjs4 at 3:39 PM on December 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oddly, many bad car smells can be removed by leaving several apples in the car until they’re soft and borderline fermented.
posted by Capri at 3:20 AM on December 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

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