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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
When I bought my 2009 LTZ, it had a "musty" or "mildew" odor. I thought it was coming from the vents. Upon closer inspection, it is coming from the cowling (cowl). I can find my car blindfolded in the parking lot; the smell is that strong. (If you bend over and smell the cowl from the outside, it's pretty bad; inside isn't usually as bad). The dealer has sprayed something twice onto the cowl that is supposed to remove the smell, but it hasn't worked. I have big time allergies and when the temp gets above 40 degrees the smell makes my eyes water.

Anyone heard of this problem? Anything I should have the dealer do - like replace the cowl? Do you think it could be a leak that they need to take care of? They told me it was from the car having the A/C on (from the factory) and being left to sit without being dried out. I might believe that if the smell were in the ventilation system, but it is clearly just the cowl. The third time I had it in for this smell, they turned on an "after blower" that is supposed to air out the system (it kicks on for a couple minutes 30 minutes after the car has been turned off and runs for 2 or 3 minutes). So far, that has done no good.

There are four other 2009 Malibu's in our parking lot and none of them have this problem...
 

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When I bought my 2009 LTZ, it had a "musty" or "mildew" odor. I thought it was coming from the vents. Upon closer inspection, it is coming from the cowling (cowl). I can find my car blindfolded in the parking lot; the smell is that strong. (If you bend over and smell the cowl from the outside, it's pretty bad; inside isn't usually as bad). The dealer has sprayed something twice onto the cowl that is supposed to remove the smell, but it hasn't worked. I have big time allergies and when the temp gets above 40 degrees the smell makes my eyes water.

Anyone heard of this problem? Anything I should have the dealer do - like replace the cowl? Do you think it could be a leak that they need to take care of? They told me it was from the car having the A/C on (from the factory) and being left to sit without being dried out. I might believe that if the smell were in the ventilation system, but it is clearly just the cowl. The third time I had it in for this smell, they turned on an "after blower" that is supposed to air out the system (it kicks on for a couple minutes 30 minutes after the car has been turned off and runs for 2 or 3 minutes). So far, that has done no good.

There are four other 2009 Malibu's in our parking lot and none of them have this problem...

What, specifically, do you mean by the cowl? The hood, the rubber like cover over the valve cover, the cowling around the fan and radiator, the cowling around the airbox intake tube, the cowling around the battery box, the cowling by the wheels, or colwing near the firewall?

If it has been this way from the beginning I would take the car to the dealer and tell them you're not taking it home until it is fixed. Not covered up, but fixed. Replace the cowl if necessary, and any other contaminated parts because of it. If it was the A/C as they say, and because it then sat, well, then that is still their problem as it happened by their own fault. Even if it was your fault, that shouldn't happen from normal use, and if it does, it is covered by the bumper to bumper warranty.

I would reccomend getting all you can out of the B2B warranty before it expires or before GM goes under and doesn't honor them.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The smell is coming from the piece between the hood and the windshield. If you stick your nose down alongside the windshield wipers, the smell is terrible on both sides of the car. There appears to be some sort of "fiber" filter there -- I think they have sprayed that in addition to any filters elsewhere in the system. It's going to be 60 degrees today and 70 tomorrow, which means it's going to radiate this smell....

The service manager has told me he is following the standard protocol for a problem of this type. I suggested they replace the cowl and he said that was a very major undertaking (it wasn't simply a piece they could snap off and replace) and they wanted to try this first.

I still have to wonder if a small leak is causing the problem though -- maybe around the windshield. I don't get a bad smell from the vents if I use inside air, which makes me think it's not "internal" to the ventilation system.
 

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Maybe you have a dead mouse in there??
Keep after them to fix it right.
 

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I'd make them replace the filter and the cowling.

On another note, are you sure it's a musty smell and not a dead rodent smell? The dead rodent smell is pretty bad though. An ex girlfriend of mine had a bad smell coming from the vents and you could smellit outside in the same place you're describing. She couldn't get it to go away, but as soon as I smelled it I recognized the smell (I worked in a movie theatre for 7 years, and sadly, you get to know this smell well), and it was dead mouse. I had to take the vent system apart from in the engine compartment, remove that cowling, etc., and eventually found the dead mouse and removed it. I sterilized the whole thing, replaced the cabin filter, and life was good.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I sure smells like mildew or mold to me. It's the same smell I have smelled in the basements of damp, older buildings...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Ok, they pulled the cowling off and sprayed everything with a "special spray" they got from GM. It still smells. It's making our garage stink like a mildewy basement!

My brother-in-law was an engineer for GM and said it could be a leak in the windshield. I have noticed that the seal at the bottom of the windshield smells too... anyhone ever had a windshield leak? I figure if it were bad enough, I'd see water in the car when I wash it or when it rains, but I have not yet had it in a hard rain...
 

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I figure if it were bad enough, I'd see water in the car when I wash it or when it rains, but I have not yet had it in a hard rain...
One of my S-10 pickups had a leak in the firewall area. I could not feel wet carpet or smell it, but my wife could smell something damp. I mentioned this to the service manager and he told me insulation could soak up a lot of water before the carpet felt wet. They checked it, and sure enough the insulation under the carpet was soaked. They replaced the insulation, carpet and fixed the leak.
Your dealer can spray away, but they really need to find what is causing the smell.
I'm lucky I have a good dealer to work with.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
One of my S-10 pickups had a leak in the firewall area. I could not feel wet carpet or smell it, but my wife could smell something damp. I mentioned this to the service manager and he told me insulation could soak up a lot of water before the carpet felt wet. They checked it, and sure enough the insulation under the carpet was soaked. They replaced the insulation, carpet and fixed the leak.
Your dealer can spray away, but they really need to find what is causing the smell.
I'm lucky I have a good dealer to work with.
Thanks! I'll be sure to mention that to them.
 

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It's your windshield wipers that smell musty....the rubber part. Take a sniff. Mine are the same way. I hadn't noticed it until the next day after it spent it's first night in the garage. There was a super overpowering musty smell in the garage. I thought maybe it was the tires or something. My husband said right away that it was the wipers on the car. He said that he had bought a handtool or something that had that rubber on it as well and it stunk to high heaven. He had to leave the tool set outside of his shop for a month or so because the smell was so strong it stunk up his shop.

The rubber was made in China. He said the smell went away, but it took a Looooong time.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
It's your windshield wipers that smell musty....the rubber part. Take a sniff. Mine are the same way. I hadn't noticed it until the next day after it spent it's first night in the garage. There was a super overpowering musty smell in the garage. I thought maybe it was the tires or something. My husband said right away that it was the wipers on the car. He said that he had bought a handtool or something that had that rubber on it as well and it stunk to high heaven. He had to leave the tool set outside of his shop for a month or so because the smell was so strong it stunk up his shop.

The rubber was made in China. He said the smell went away, but it took a Looooong time.
It actually smells more like the rubber seal at the bottom of the windshield rather than the wipers... smelly rubber? Go figure. Gotta wonder what's in it.
 

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Ever any update on this stink? After my mother had her '08 2LT for about 6 months abd summer hit last year, she started saying it stunk like mold. After initially saying there was nothing special they could do, the dealer cleaned out some passages, sprayed down inside the ducting, and reprogrammed the car with an update from GM in the name of "afterblow" so that essentially anytime after driving and then parking, the blower will automatically come on when the car is off and just run 5-10 minutes straight to "dry" it out in there daily. Seemed to work last summer, but just got an enraged call from her today saying it now stinks again so bad, afterblow running and all, a year later, and she's now also itchy and sneezy when in or after being in the car. Not a happy 'Bu driver at all right now at 16k.

Any updates to this or anyone else.
 

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Ever any update on this stink? After my mother had her '08 2LT for about 6 months abd summer hit last year, she started saying it stunk like mold. After initially saying there was nothing special they could do, the dealer cleaned out some passages, sprayed down inside the ducting, and reprogrammed the car with an update from GM in the name of "afterblow" so that essentially anytime after driving and then parking, the blower will automatically come on when the car is off and just run 5-10 minutes straight to "dry" it out in there daily. Seemed to work last summer, but just got an enraged call from her today saying it now stinks again so bad, afterblow running and all, a year later, and she's now also itchy and sneezy when in or after being in the car. Not a happy 'Bu driver at all right now at 16k.

Any updates to this or anyone else.
Maybe these products will be helpful:

1Z Einszett Klima-Cleaner Air Conditioner Treatment
(smells coming from vents) The Link

Dakota Odor Control Products feature the Dakota Odor Bomb and Dakota Non-Smoke for car odor removal.
(interiors) The Link

Duragloss Absorb-It Odor Eliminator #371
(matts) The Link
 

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Yeah, something like that is the next step, for sure. After the issue of it last year, them cleaning it out, the afterblow being turned on and blowing daily, etc., the fact that it's now back and worse than ever apparently, it's again beyond old with 1.5 year old car and 16k miles. It's certainly not uncommon, as one can see by Google'ing such a problem regardless of car, but one that's not easy to solve...or keep solved.

I'll have to look at it a little more myself and see what I think. I'm used to my G8, and my '09 Malibu before had no such issue, but I guess something has always been a bit odd in hers...including some of the worst inside of the glass fog/film that develops more than in any other car she's had, and again, mine.

Given the stench, itching, etc. reported, it might be a bit more intense...whatever the heck is going on. redhorse...any update on yours, if you're still around?
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I'm still here...

It's much much better than it was (I can no longer walk up to my car, blindfolded, in a crowded parking lot) but we occasionally get a whiff of musty mildew. Between the thorough cleaning (they had to remove everything) and the afterblow it seems to have kept the smell to a minimum.
 

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I'm still here...

It's much much better than it was (I can no longer walk up to my car, blindfolded, in a crowded parking lot) but we occasionally get a whiff of musty mildew. Between the thorough cleaning (they had to remove everything) and the afterblow it seems to have kept the smell to a minimum.
Ahh, good. However, that sounds just like this car was last year post dealer visit, only for it to apparently return full force this year. She refuses to use the A/C now, because of the smell and the itches and such (who knows, on that), but we'll see.

Sitting parked and off, I couldn't smell a thing inside or outside and she confirmed it's only when it's running and the blower & A/C is on. Given that it took some prodding to get the dealer to do anything last year, their "spray Lysol down in there" will be the first try and then I'll take it from there with something more focused. Thankfully I've never dealt with any such issue, whether in my ex 'Bu or the G8...the '08 'Bu, well, it seems like a yearly occurrence now.
 

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She couldn't stand it further and stopped into the dealer yesterday, who showed her where and how to Lysol it. She's now done this twice, spraying it in the cowl out front and letting it run, and didn't seem perturbed as much with it today...so we'll see.
 
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