Nothing spoils a good ol’ car ride like an unbearable smell, especially a stink like that of rotten eggs. If you are sure there’s no way rotten eggs are in your car, the most likely culprit is battery acid. Aside from the noticeable odor, battery acid vapors are toxic. If you have this problem, here’s the solution.
To get rid of the battery acid smell in your car, first, find the source of the odor. If it is from the car battery, the most likely cause is a leak(s) in the battery. You should either repair or replace the battery to fix this leak. If it is from a spill, flushing the area with baking soda and water solution will do the trick. Finally, wipe dry and run an ionizer in the car overnight.
Although this solution is simple, it isn’t the only way to eliminate the battery acid smell. Also, note that baking soda and water are only effective when dealing with lead-acid or nickel-cadmium battery acids. Read on to explore other options for removing battery acid smell from your car.
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Steps to Removing Battery Acid Smell from your Car
Here we’ve detailed the steps to follow when trying to get rid of the battery acid smell in your car.
Step 1: Identify the Source of The Odor
Apart from battery acid, some other things can smell like rotten eggs in your car, such as stale eggs or egg-based food, a bad cabin air filter, and a faulty fuel injector. Confirm that the smell is indeed battery acid and locate the source.
Step 2: Remove the Problem
The problem can be either a leak or a spill. Here’s how to fix it.
Car Battery Leakage
If the smell comes from your car’s battery, you may be dealing with a leaking battery. Leakage can result from overuse, overcharging, overfilling, and/or cracks. If none of these is the case, you most likely are dealing with an aged battery in dire need of replacement.
Remove the leaking battery, bag it in appropriate trash bags depending on the type of battery, and dispose of it correctly. Special care must be taken if your battery is the Lithium-ion type because they are very dangerous. You can handle this yourself or call a professional to take care of it.
Battery Acid Spill
If the smell isn’t coming from the battery, it is most likely a spill. Perhaps you carried a battery in the floorboard of your car’s backseat or trunk, and it spilled onto the carpet.
Baking soda is your best bet in getting rid of the smell in such scenarios. Cover the affected area with an ample amount of baking soda. Then vacuum away the baking soda, or suction it using an extractor.
Alternatively, you can spray a mix of baking soda and water over the area if the battery acid is from lead-acid and nickel-cadmium batteries. Water will dilute the spilled acid. Baking soda will help neutralize the chemical spilled and absorb the pungent smell of acid.
For alkaline batteries, a solution of vinegar and lemon juice is effective. Wipe the spill off using a cotton swab or cloth. If you don’t have lemon juice, dip a cloth into a dilute vinegar solution and wipe the spill. For Lithium-ion batteries, dip a cloth into the water, squeeze out the excess and wipe the spill off. Use only water and nothing else to clean off the spill.
Follow this up with a thorough clean-up using lots of water. Wash the area using appropriate cleaners such as carpet cleaners, warm soapy water, or steam cleaner.
Neither a Leak nor a Spill
If the smell is not from a leaking battery or a spill, it might just be in the air. Roll down your windows and leave them open for about a day or two. Alternatively, open a box of baking soda, white vinegar, or activated charcoal and let it sit in the car for a while with the windows rolled up.
Step 3: Neutralize the Smell
Once you have fixed the problem, be it a leaking battery or battery acid spill, leave your car to air dry for a while. How long this takes depends on the extent of the spill/leak and the strength of the odor.
You can also leave an ionizer overnight. It helps to get rid of the smell even better. Or better yet, vacuum the area and leave it to air dry. You can also visit an auto detailer for ozone treatment.
The smell will disappear once the problem is identified and removed and your car is thoroughly aerated.
Why You MUST Get Rid of Battery Acid Smell
The smell from conventional lead-acid batteries is like that of rotten eggs. That characteristic smell is sulfur. These batteries contain a mixture of sulfuric acid and water. In the presence of lead, they release a highly flammable, explosive, and toxic gas called hydrogen sulfide.
Lithium-ion batteries give off the gas with a sweet, acrid smell like ether or diethyl ether because it is composed of lithium salts. This gas is colorless and also extremely flammable.
Asides from the stink, inhaling battery acid vapors is harmful. Prolonged exposure to hydrogen sulfide leads to skin, eye, and throat irritations. It also increases your risk of developing breathing difficulties or an attack if you have asthma or any respiratory condition. It is also capable of damaging your ability to smell over time.
This is why you must act immediately when you perceive the faintest whiff of that peculiar rotten egg smell in your car.
Safety Precautions for Dealing With Battery Acid
Since you are dealing with a potentially toxic substance here, you must take some protective measures, so you don’t put your health at risk.
- Wear safety masks, gloves, and protective clothing if you would be fixing or replacing a leaking battery yourself.
- Work in a well-ventilated area. The battery acid smell is harmful if it is not vented properly.
- Ensure you have no kids or pets close by.
No one likes to sit or ride in a smelly car. Aside from the funky smell, battery acid vapors are harmful. Even if your health is optimal, Iit is best to remove the smell as soon as possible. Follow our safety tips and thorough steps to get rid of battery acid odor from your car!