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Hello All,
I am not sure if this is on the right forum, and can move this if need be. I am new to the element community, and bought a SOP 2003 4WD EX yesterday with 195723 miles on it. When I bought it from the second owner, it was extremely filthy, and is full of dog hair. It reeks of dog and cigarettes, and was wondering if you guys had any tips or tricks to get rid of the smell. I have replaced the cabin air filter and engine air filter (both looked to be the originals from when the car was new), and vacuumed out most of the dog hair. Do you guys have any ideas on how to get rid of these smells?
 

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You might want to consider having it professionally cleaned this first time and maintain it yourself thereafter. I'd suggest going to a local detail shop and let them see/smell it and tell you what they can do.
 

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Unfortunately if the smoker contaminated the interior excessively the smell is well beyond the surface and into the seat foam and adhered to the actual adhesives used to assemble the interior itself including the rubber floor. My mom was a chimney in her car to the point it effected her vision clouding the windows with yellow tar and smoke resin. It was terrible. That was a Toyota Matrix so the seats and carpet, headliner and door panels could be heavily shampooed. One thing that saved the seats was the cheap seat covers. The E has a water repellent material instead of standard fabric. Ive had the interior of my 07 SC shampooed and although it did clean the seats it was obviously not as effective as with a regular material car seat.

For the E I would,

Remove all interior panels for heavy cleaning, even the plastic parts. Then heavily clean the exposed areas behind those panels. Smoke will have lingered in those cavities attaching itself to the adhesives and rubber parts. There will be animal hair in there as well.

You may want to look into a custom headliner. Smoke rises so if it was a super heavy smoker as it sounds, that smoke has left a build up below the headliner again on the adhesives and the bare roof itself. A good mom and pop shop can do the job in a day. Ive been quoted at $300 to do a custom leatherette headliner in my 07 SC by a local shop. Keep in mind 20 years ago it cost just under $100 to have the same done to my 69 Cougar. Not a bad price at all.

The floor, being extremely allergic to animal dander I would just replace the floor rubber and underlayment. There will be animal hair under the rubber floor and sounds like the animal would have been in the E as it was wet so that dander and smell is IN the underlayment.

The seats, try shampooing and see where that gets you. The rear seat I suspect will be inundated with animal dander and again the wet pet hair would have pushed its odor into the seat foam itself. If all else fails, the seats are simple to replace with the rears being inexpensive to do so on the used market.

Youll find online ways to try and remove the smell and pet hair but in reality, as mentioned, its IN the material. The second owner didnt seem to care about the E's interior which is sad. But ive noticed this with many smokers. Its why I never have and never will buy a used car owned by a prior smoker for my own use.
 

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Rob Dobbs;. But ive noticed this with many smokers. Its why I never have and never will buy a used car owned by a prior smoker for my own use.[/QUOTE said:
some of the detail shops can do great work.
also I smoke, but never in the car, with 20,000 miles and better then new condition, guess you wouldn't buy mine.
 

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I bought a car once that had been heavily smoked in -- I mean it just reeked of smoke. I sprayed every part of the interior with Auto Fabreze, the cloth parts to the point of soaking - although I purposely avoided the dash and instruments. Then I would drive around for days with the windows open, and park the car outside with the windows down to help air it out. I did this 3 times, and used a couple spray bottles of the Auto Fabreze. It really did work. No one who rode in the car ever commented on any smoke smell. It's the cheap and easy solution if you are willing to patiently see it through.
 

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some of the detail shops can do great work.
also I smoke, but never in the car, with 20,000 miles and better then new condition, guess you wouldn't buy mine.
I wouldnt. Again I was raised with a family of old skool smokers. Were talking card nights of a dozen continuously smoking people in a single room with the doors and windows closed. The smell still to this day nauseates me.
Smoke gets trapped in clothing and skin/hair. That odor transfers. Odds are your seats and interior have that odor but you cant smell it. In the OP's situation were also talking animal dander/smell and hair. Im assuming its on the extreme side of things which is why I made the suggestions.
 

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I wouldnt. Again I was raised with a family of old skool smokers. Were talking card nights of a dozen continuously smoking people in a single room with the doors and windows closed. The smell still to this day nauseates me.
Smoke gets trapped in clothing and skin/hair. That odor transfers. Odds are your seats and interior have that odor but you cant smell it. In the OP's situation were also talking animal dander/smell and hair. Im assuming its on the extreme side of things which is why I made the suggestions.
That's nice.
 

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Change the cabin filters for sure. I have had good luck with this stuff, SCOE x10, tested it on my favorite pair of summer sneakers which were pretty ripe.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Change the cabin filters for sure. I have had good luck with this stuff, SCOE x10, tested it on my favorite pair of summer sneakers which were pretty ripe.
did you just spray it onto the headliner and any fabric? or did you scrub the trim pieces and floor with that mixed with water, or both?
 

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Unfortunately if the smoker contaminated the interior excessively the smell is well beyond the surface and into the seat foam and adhered to the actual adhesives used to assemble the interior itself including the rubber floor. My mom was a chimney in her car to the point it effected her vision clouding the windows with yellow tar and smoke resin. It was terrible. That was a Toyota Matrix so the seats and carpet, headliner and door panels could be heavily shampooed. One thing that saved the seats was the cheap seat covers. The E has a water repellent material instead of standard fabric. Ive had the interior of my 07 SC shampooed and although it did clean the seats it was obviously not as effective as with a regular material car seat.

For the E I would,

Remove all interior panels for heavy cleaning, even the plastic parts. Then heavily clean the exposed areas behind those panels. Smoke will have lingered in those cavities attaching itself to the adhesives and rubber parts. There will be animal hair in there as well.

You may want to look into a custom headliner. Smoke rises so if it was a super heavy smoker as it sounds, that smoke has left a build up below the headliner again on the adhesives and the bare roof itself. A good mom and pop shop can do the job in a day. Ive been quoted at $300 to do a custom leatherette headliner in my 07 SC by a local shop. Keep in mind 20 years ago it cost just under $100 to have the same done to my 69 Cougar. Not a bad price at all.

The floor, being extremely allergic to animal dander I would just replace the floor rubber and underlayment. There will be animal hair under the rubber floor and sounds like the animal would have been in the E as it was wet so that dander and smell is IN the underlayment.

The seats, try shampooing and see where that gets you. The rear seat I suspect will be inundated with animal dander and again the wet pet hair would have pushed its odor into the seat foam itself. If all else fails, the seats are simple to replace with the rears being inexpensive to do so on the used market.

Youll find online ways to try and remove the smell and pet hair but in reality, as mentioned, its IN the material. The second owner didnt seem to care about the E's interior which is sad. But ive noticed this with many smokers. Its why I never have and never will buy a used car owned by a prior smoker for my own use.
Thanks for all the help, I'll try the ideas listed. I also cleaned the floors (which I also believe has never been cleaned) with soap and water, but that didn't seem to help. I then used Black Magic Bleche-Wite Tire Cleaner, and sprayed it on the floors, let it sit for a few minutes, and then scrubbed it with a stiff bristle brush and wiped it off with a rag. This seemed to work magic not only on the dirt and grim, but also seemed to get rid of some of the smell.
 

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It comes as a concentrate, you mix it with 8 or 10 parts water, you can vary the strength a bit. I used a good sprayer bottle and misted the surfaces pretty well and rubbed it in a bit. I sprayed just about everything; plastic, material, carpets. Then you let it sit a while (they recommend 20 minutes) and wipe off the excess. Did a couple applications, letting things dry then repeating the process with some pretty good results.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
It comes as a concentrate, you mix it with 8 or 10 parts water, you can vary the strength a bit. I used a good sprayer bottle and misted the surfaces pretty well and rubbed it in a bit. I sprayed just about everything; plastic, material, carpets. Then you let it sit a while (they recommend 20 minutes) and wipe off the excess. Did a couple applications, letting things dry then repeating the process with some pretty good results.
thanks I'll try it, did it leave any discoloration on the seats or plastics?
 

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I'd still think about the Auto Fabreze. It was color safe when I applied it, even after soaking the all the fabrics with it.
 

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My first Element had a dog owner prior to me. I found dog hair hidden in that thing everywhere. I cleaned it all out but still in places like under the dash there would be dog hair. Thankfully it didn't stink but I was appalled at the amount of hair that could hide in a car, so I feel for you there. My 2nd and current Element didn't smell either, but I tried the aerosol Meguiar's Whole Car Air Freshener when it was buy one get one free. It seemed to be a bit strong but a nice smell. It's basically an air freshener bomb, you close the windows, turn the fan on recirculate and let the can empty. In 10 min your car is fresh. A couple of those may help with the smell. It may also help the headliner some since the spray rises. Also I'd use upholstery cleaner. I used some Meguiar's upholster/carpet cleaner on it and it had a nice smell too. I haven't used the 2nd air freshener bomb yet, but it's good to have on hand. Good luck, I think you'll need to clean it a few times if it's that bad.

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/mAyYCVuadqk/maxresdefault.jpg
 

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Interior odour

I used a type of "odour eliminator bomb" also!! Have A/C on full, closed windows, position "bomb" can next to A/C- heater consol and release lever, get out. Let systems run for 15 minutes, and job is done. Can is about $10. The aerosol cloud does the work.
 
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