Poor Ventilation Design in '95 Civic Sedan?

The ventilation system in my '95 EX sedan smells terrible. It's not mainly mold, but a combination of smells accumulated in my garage over the Winter (I don't drive it in snow, only when the roads are dry), a
burned wiring smell that I suspect is the recirculate flap motor (it works, but I hear static on the radio when I use it) and just stale air. I've tried various treatments to little avail, and will probably try ozone next, if I can find a shop that uses it. But I can't help but notice that, unlike all the other cars I've owned, the fresh (ha!) air intake is located *completely* under the hood, in the engine compartment. Does anyone else with the series Civic (any of the sedans of that era) have a similar problem? If so, have you found a way to solve it? The car gets 40mpg and I don't want to sell it.
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Leftie wrote:

don't. ozone rots rubber, and thus all your seals.

no it's not. unless you have a seal missing, air gets drawn from the gap between the windshield and the rear of the hood.
> Does anyone else with the series Civic (any of the sedans

now you know why modern cars with a/c have cabin filters - it prevents the crud build-up in the evaporator matrix. unless you want to do major surgery and clean-up, the truly anal solution, you're stuck with trying to deodorize the matrix from the outside. with the fan on, spray in isopropyl alcohol from a squeezy bottle. use a whole bottle and just keep going for as long as it takes.
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jim beam wrote:

Good point.

I didn't mean that it's completely isolated from fresh air, I mean it's completely out of the outside air stream. The air hitting that buried air intake has just blown over the engine. All the other cars I've owned have had the intake either exposed right at the base of the windshield, or at least with open air directly above them at the base of the windshield.

I've actually tried my vodka and cider vinegar mixture, but I guess I didn't use enough. How much labor (actual time and book rate) is involved in physically cleaning the fresh air path? On recirculate the smell is still there, but substantially reduced.
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Leftie wrote:

if you think you know better than honda, write, tell them, then get rid of the car. your call.

call the dealer and ask! if you can't do it yourself, you can't afford to do it.

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snip

Are you positive there isn't a tiny oil leak under the hood that's causing the smell?
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ACAR wrote:

That or an exhaust leak was my initial guess, but I keep the car garaged and there is no oil under it. I replaced a leaking section of exhaust pipe, and there was no difference. And no, the leaking pipe wasn't even in or under the engine compartment...
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Check the soft rubber gasket just in front of the wieprs.
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So it's a gasoline and oil smell?

Actually, it's not. It's sealed from the engine compartment by a soft rubber gasket that presses against the underside of the hood. That gasket wouldn't be missing, would it?
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Tegger wrote:

Not exactly, certainly not gasoline, but there is a garage-y component to the smell.

Aha! I have no idea, and will check that when the rain stops. If they buried the intake and then used the gasket to make fresh air flow downwards and backwards into it from above, though, I remain unimpressed with the design. Thanks a lot for the info, though.
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Leftie wrote:

dude, have you ever looked at the air intake on a modern helicopter? it's convoluted so that ground debris doesn't get in the engines. even fine dust is separated out. similar logic here - all the driven debris stays out of the intake.
of course, if you drive detroit crap with a design life of 5 years, this might not be a problem, but if you have a honda and want to drive it 20+ years without its being clogged with twigs, leaves, mud, insects or any of that other crap, this is the way to go.
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jim beam wrote:

Interesting, then, that neither of our Camrys of the same year, with their open-at-base-of-windshield intakes, has clogged or developed this nasty smell. Nor the even older Volvo 240 before that.
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yup, hondas of that era have funny ventilation smells. i own one and remember a one line review of them in some car mag: Honda: nice car. smells funny. One thing that helps a lot is to dry out the AC before turning the car off, by turning the AC off a couple of minutes before turning the car off. that helps keep the condensate on the evaporator to a minimum and reducing the fungus growth. but you don't seem to have mold smells.
i'd guess your diagnosis re the recirculate motor may be correct.
re the location of the air intake, there have been quite a few cars who do that kind of thing. lots of gm cars with the "hidden wiper blades", for instance, for sleek look. i don't know why honda does it though, since the wiper blades aren't hidden.
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z wrote:

Just to make me cough, apparently. I always dry the A/C out after using it. I'll probably bite the bullet and pay to have the system (the intake, at least) manually cleaned, and the recirculate motor replaced. Thanks for the response.
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You can get disinfectant sprays that eliminate the mold in the system; no need to dismantle it.
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Tegger wrote:

It isn't mainly mold, and the disinfectants are as bad as the odor. I'm sensitive to harsh chemicals. What mold there is is in the carpet, because of that damned Civic rainwater leak. I got caught with the car at work in torrential rain, and now I have to have the carpet shampooed, too.
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Look up bacterial bloom it may be on this news group but you will find it on a search. My wifes 06 pilot has the same thing and the dealer dumps some stuff down the air intake vent. It cures it for a while but it always comes back. You can see it on the windshield it starts with bluish tint in spots then takes over the entire winshield with the film. I washed it with a mild bleach solution and then vinegar based windex.
The bottom line is there is something living in your in the ventilation system that need to be eliminated. It does not seem to affect all vehicles my daughers 05 civic is fine. There is a drain on the bottom of the system look where the ac drips out see if it is plugged.
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