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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For the past few weeks I've had problems with a musty, somewhat dead-animal smell coming out of my air vents, but only occasionally. At first I thought it was my homemade cabin air filter, so I took that out, but I still got the smell at times (though there was no sign of any dead critters in there). I cruised this forum and found mention of some folks having problems with their AC drain getting clogged, so I've been monitoring that the past few days but have been running the AC regularly and the smell hasn't returned. I had a rain leak problem previously and I thought it might be tied to that, but we had a big rain here last week and the smell didn't return. So I was stumped, but up until this afternoon the smell seemed to have gone away.

However, as I was going to run errands this evening I pulled out of my driveway pointed into the afternoon sun and noticed my windshield had a good layer of pollen on it (which hadn't been a problem after the big rain mid-week last week), so I hit the windshield washer fluid switch to clean things off, and I was immediately hit with an awful smell (much worse than before; like a damp pig sty on a hot afternoon!!), and noticed the windshield fluid had a very muddy look to it. I drove straight to an auto parts place to get some fresh fluid, and when I opened the hood I saw the lid to the reservoir was open. I topped off the murky fluid (it was about half full) hoping it would dilute the nasty stuff in the bottom and closed the cap, but I can tell the thing isn't spraying 100%, so it's clogged to some degree...meaning I'm going to have to somehow remove/flush the reservoir and lines to make it work properly.

By the time I got home it was dark so I haven't been able to prod around in there too much, but my guess is that most likely a mouse stumbled in there looking for water, and either found the lid opened or managed to pop it open (it doesn't exactly fit snugly) and crawled inside...and couldn't climb back out. Nothing floated to the surface when I topped it off so I can't say that with 100% accuracy, but something organic definitely got in there somehow and decomposed (which was only made worse by the 80-degree temps we've had here for the past week).

So, does anybody know how much trouble it is to remove that reservoir? I noticed while topping off the fluid that the coolant overflow reservoir and the windshield fluid one clip together, so I'm hoping they simply clip together or are maybe just held in with a screw or two. I really want to take it out and give it a good scrubbing, but I'm a little afraid to see what I'm going to find at the bottom! :puke:
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Well, I got in the Patriot this morning to come to work, and while the smell wasn't as bad, there's no way to avoid it. I was going to tackle it on my own this weekend, but driving to work I remembered my former Jeep dealer that's only a few blocks from my office still does service work (though their dealership was shut down with the Chrysler bankruptcy), so I took it over there. They're going to tear it all down and bleach things out, so hopefully all I'll have to do this weekend is spray a little Febreeze on the interior.

In any event, I wanted to post this out here so that if someone else is having problems with what they think is an AC smell that they can't resolve, to be sure to check the washer fluid. And I'm going to start double checking the lid on that reservoir too; I might even figure out a way to fashion a screen or something over the opening so even if it blows open nothing can get inside.
 

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Well this is certainly good to know -
I have been wondering what your funky smell was all about and hope to avoid it if possible!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I just talked to the service department and everything is back in order now. I asked if they could tell what was inside it and the response was "a wad of hair"...they couldn't tell exactly what it was originally, so all we really know is it was a mammal instead of a bird or something else.

I've noticed my wife's car has a built-in plastic screen in her washer fluid fill tube, which I always thought was just there to keep out stray bits of trash that might fly in accidentally and clog something; now I'm starting to think if this flap won't lock down tight on mine I might zip-tie some screen or something over the opening on mine just in case. I park outside at home, and in an underground parking garage at work, so I'm pretty much wide open to suicidal varmints otherwise.
 
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