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Thread: Chasing down mildew smell

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
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    1998 BMW 540i Sport

    Chasing down mildew smell

    My 540i sat for a long time before I got a hold of it. Iím trying to figure out why a mildew smell keeps creeping back into the vehicle. I know my sunroof has issues and the seal is bad. Iím working on replacing that seal and fixing the sun roof.
    Would anyone know what is causing it? My door gaskets are cracked and the cabin air intakes are somewhat loose and come off the boxes every now and then. Thanks

  2. #2
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    Mar 2019
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    456 X3s
    Carpet needs to be steam cleaned with the right product (plenty on the market) ,,,my mother would tell you bleach but you need something automotive.
    Let it dry thoroughly! And underneath the carpet,,,on the floor board are several rubber like plugs...yes it's a big job...remove those plugs so that water will not stand or puddle below the carpet. Idk if your model doors are known leakers but make sure all areas of incoming water is addressed. your goal is to not let the affected areas get damp and wet again, or the mildew and odor will return rapidly

    See:https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sh...php?p=12799587

    Sent from my SM-J727T using Tapatalk
    Last edited by X3456; 12-13-2019 at 07:17 PM.

  3. #3
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    The matting under the carpet is probably wet from various leaks (door panels, sunroof, etc.).
    I haven't had to deal with it myself but I'm under the impression the front seats need to be removed in order to peel the carpet back and let it dry.
    I do not believe in a risk free society where the thrill of living is traded for the safety of existence. Nick Ienatsch

    The law does NOT determine "right" from "wrong". They are unrelated.

    If you put cheap parts on your car, you will soon have a cheap parts car.

  4. #4
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    ^^
    This.
    Remove the carpets, clean them thoroughly with something intended to treat mildew and let them dry in the sun for days until absolutely dry.
    The foam backing can hold GALLONS of water

    If you can leave two black stripes from the exit of one corner to the braking zone of the next, you have enough horsepower. - Mark Donohue

  5. #5
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    The fuse junction box under the passenger side carpet should also be checked for water damage, as it tends to collect there when sunroof drains are clogged or breached, and all the electrical connection corrode, break, or short.
    Ed CT
    1998 528i
    5-Speed
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    Aubergine Leather

  6. #6
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    Awesome thanks everyone! I’ll try it and get back

  7. #7
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    I wouldn't bother until you have fixed all the leaks. Water rarely enters from bad door gaskets, but could if really bad or sections missing. Most water enters the interior through the vapor barriers in each door. It will enter the trunk through the tail light gaskets. On the wagon, there may be other entry points through the tailgate...but I am not familiar with that car. Mildew smell also comes from the AC condensor inside the dash. Liqui Moly makes an aerosol product you can spray on it to kill the mold spores. It includes a long snorkel hose to reach inside. You can also drill a hole from the drivers side into the air box to reach the condensor.
    2001 540 M-Sport (cdn), ST X (KW) coilovers, H&R 15mm spacers, Eibach anti roll bars (28mm/18mm), M5 rear chassis reinforcements (traction rods), Strong Strut front upper strut bar, Dinan Stage 1 software, factory M-Audio subs, USA Spec Ipod/Iphone intergration, factory bluetooth phone integration, Stop Tech SS brake lines, Akebono Euro Ceramic brake pads

  8. #8
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    The best way to deal with mildew - and mold for that matter- is to spray the suspected areas with mixture of vinegar and clean water -a tablespoon of vinegar per quart of water-. Then dry it immediately.

    Here in the Pacific NW where the weather is very wet, it is best to do it in the dry hot days of summer, under the sun.....
    Beware that mildew and mold can be hazardous to your health (lungs).

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chedley View Post
    The best way to deal with mildew - and mold for that matter- is to spray the suspected areas with mixture of vinegar and clean water -a tablespoon of vinegar per quart of water-. Then dry it immediately.

    Here in the Pacific NW where the weather is very wet, it is best to do it in the dry hot days of summer, under the sun.....
    Beware that mildew and mold can be hazardous to your health (lungs).
    That douche ain't gonna do diddly squat when you have a sea of festering mung under the carpets.
    Last edited by ross1; 12-10-2019 at 08:24 AM.

    If you can leave two black stripes from the exit of one corner to the braking zone of the next, you have enough horsepower. - Mark Donohue

  10. #10
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    All good recipes here, vinegar with water, and steam. If you have access to a inyector/extractor cleaner it would be the top choice. If not then the pressure steamer (at least 3 bar) with steam only, no hydro-steam.
    Some cars just resist going to the grave.

  11. #11
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    ive found using apple cider vinegar (the real stuff, not "flavored" vinegar) to be superior to removing the final mildew odor, put a small bowl or two of it on the floor, close up the car on a sunny day for the final de-smelling after all the other cleanup is done.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattmar1 View Post
    ive found using apple cider vinegar (the real stuff, not "flavored" vinegar) to be superior to removing the final mildew odor, put a small bowl or two of it on the floor, close up the car on a sunny day for the final de-smelling after all the other cleanup is done.
    That works on refrigerators too.
    I do not believe in a risk free society where the thrill of living is traded for the safety of existence. Nick Ienatsch

    The law does NOT determine "right" from "wrong". They are unrelated.

    If you put cheap parts on your car, you will soon have a cheap parts car.

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