Dead Rat in a Car's AC System?


I know that a rat died in the AC venting system of my mom's& '96 Buick LeSabre. We are over run with Norway rats here. I knew the smell of roadkill immediately upon opening the door. I turned on the blower and could hear the fan blades hitting something soft and maggots came flying out of the system.


Anyway, I took off the plastic housing under the dash and no luck there. I don't know what else to do except take it to a repair shop or the Buick dealer here. I know that I will be charged more than I have and more than the car is worth. Other than that the only idea I have now is from my buddy who said to try a leaf blower. Where do I put the blower in the first place? I sure don't want to blow the thing further up into the system! Can anyone here help me?

Michael from St. Augustine, FL

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By nancycorinne (Guest Post)
February 5, 20090 found this helpful

I know this is gross but if you can't afford to take the car to a mechanic then the maggots are your FRIENDS!

Eventually the rat will decompose (with a little help from your new friends) and when it is completely decomposed I think the maggots will find another source of nourishment and leave or die off. Then the smell should go away.


I'm just guessing here and I don't know how long that will take. If they can do without the car for a while and just let the process happen it might be ok.

I had a rat nest and die inside my dryer hose (he/she came in through the hole in the wall, made a nest and for whatever reason died in there. The smell was hideous and unbearable....really! There is nothing that smells quite like it.

My other suggestion (tongue-in-cheek) is get on the freeway or highway (hopefully not in a crowded place like Los Angeles where I live) and go 60 or 65 whatever the speed limit is and open all the windows! and just blow that stench out!

But seriously, we really don't know what died in there, in some areas of the USA and I'm sure other places mice (I'm not sure about rats) carry the Hanta Virus which can make people very ill and can be deadly in some cases.


When handling mice droppings I know to always wear GLOVES and a MASK. Before cleaning up the droppings you should spray them with a mixture of bleach and water. I don't know the amounts offhand but you can do a quick google search for that info.

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By cajunangel (Guest Post)
February 5, 20090 found this helpful

I don't know if it would be strong enough but unwrapped Irish spring soap bars would get the smell out of your car when the things is decomposed and gone. It's great for getting the smell out of freezers where power goes off and food spoiled. Only thing that really works.

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Silver Feedback Medal for All Time! 270 Feedbacks
February 5, 20090 found this helpful

GET yourself a mechanic friend or body shop friend. You just need to find the skrews to remove the dash cover and the rest is good.
We had a mouse take the kleenex box in with it too before dying. So turning the AC on blew out the pieces of tissue.


Find a local tech college with an automotive section. They could do this for a minimal price--maybe free. 2 of my kids attended the 4 yr program and were always looking for things to make class interesting. AND they will have the tools, it takes just a few minutes for most car models to get to the point of removal of the dash.

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February 5, 20090 found this helpful

The Irish Spring idea may work. Thanks to cajunangel!......
.......And nancycorrine, you definately have rat the "fancy" parts of St. Augustine, they refer to their rats as house squirrels!hahahahah! but, I guess I could rig up a garden hose going from near the drivers headrest to the outside......I could breathe through that hose and drive like a bat outta hell and turn on the ac.....ugh!......full blast!


Just hopw a cop doesn't see me and pull me over.....he'd think I had a body in the car! I think that I'll try it today, when it warms up some. It went down to 19 degrees last night. I don't want to use the heat as that would make the gut wrenching smell even worse! Thank you nancycorrine!

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February 5, 20090 found this helpful

Thanks T&T Grandma!........It's amazing that you actually had the same problem! I love this site! Thrifty Fun rocks! Thanks for the advice, I'll follow up on everyone's suggestions and let you all know how it goes. Thanks again!

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February 5, 20090 found this helpful

Thanks T&T Grandma!........It's amazing that you actually had the same problem! I love this site! Thrifty Fun rocks!


Thanks for the advice, I'll follow up on everyone's suggestions and let you all know how it goes. Thanks again!

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Silver Post Medal for All Time! 364 Posts
February 8, 20090 found this helpful

Try the squirrel cage first (by pulling the blower motor out) and reach around the space with a gloved hand)
- otherwise, pull parts of the plenum chamber out. The plenum is a chamber with little doors that direct the flow of air cond and heating, the coils the air passes over for air cond and heat.
Good luck.

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February 9, 20090 found this helpful

Hey cookwie. Thanks for the good advice! I tried the leaf blower. That was a real blast! Then I tried taking it out on the road to blow out the system. I got all stunk up! Called votech and they can't help me right now, perhaps never. Oh, the bar of Irish Spring was a good idea but, now it smells like a dead Irish rat. So, I'm going to try to take the system apart per cookwie's direction, and go from there. Thanks again, cookwie!

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 116 Feedbacks
February 9, 20090 found this helpful

(Posted via email)

The info came from my husband who is in auto body repair.
The squirrel cage is part of the air conditioning system and the plenum is the entire air system. He doesn't know of a web site because he doesn't use a computer.

For my part, I would suggest going to your local library and looking at
their car repair section. You might also ask the reference librarian (their
job is to answer questions).

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February 9, 20090 found this helpful

I've been following this subject. I'm so sorry it is not taken care of yet, but I sure did get a LMAO out of the dead Irish rat!

Good luck!


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February 9, 20090 found this helpful

Thanks for the follow up cookwie! All of you have been very helpful!.....even Nancy for pointing out the humorous side of this situation, and it is a bit of a situation now. In what follows, I can now see the humor and since you have all been so nice, I decided to share with you!

Even though the dead rat moved into Mom's car,tonight we had to go to my brother and sister in law's "social function of the year", ew! Anyway,these are hard times for some people and a 1996 Chevy truck is still a fine mode of transportation. Right? Well, ok, I can understand that I maybe should have replaced the rusted out front bumper. It actually looks a lot like chrome lace, if you can imagine it. The topper is a bit askew since we got rear ended on the 206 bridge, by a man with one leg and the paint on the hood, I swear I didn't realize it until we were almost at the party, is oxidized in the strangest pattern of a huge mask with eye holes and a kinda crooked mouth......this is all one sentence?

Oh well, I'm almost to the good part. We pull up to this fancy country club, through tall iron gates, a guard who couldn't believe I even knew my own brother, with cars stacking up behind us, and finally, we drive up to the beveled glass front doors of the club. The huge black iron gas lights were lighting our, less than elegant, exit from the truck. A boy, I don't know old he was, didn't seem legal to me, holds out his hand for my keys, gets in, starts it up, with a jerk and the left headlight just pops right out of it's frame and explodes on the cobblestone driveway!

The boy managed to run over what was left of the headlight and slammed on the brakes! Now, everyone who wasn't looking, was looking. That's when, well, you know how it is when you get used to looking at something, you don't think about it at all? That's when I saw the funny bumper sticker. It wasn't low down on the rear bumper, no, it was dead center of the glass door of the truck topper, guess I didn't want to mess up my bumper, and with the brakes on and the gas lights shining brightly, who'd have thought gas lights could be so bright. It became very evident to me and the assembled crowd, sister in law included, that my "FISH NEKED" bumper sticker was glowing like a kriptonite powered neon sign!

I heard that shrill scream coming from my sister in law's direction and knew that things were going to get a lot worse for me if I didn't think fast. The boy was out of the truck so, knowing that Mom didn't give two hoots about events such as these, I opened the passenger door, helped her in, quite quickly too and made my way through the people to my door. I got in, feeling better already and drove away, down that fancy, bumpy driveway. I honked my horn at the gatekeeper and could hear my sister in law, yelling something.

The gates s l o w l y opened and we were free! Mom was smiling from ear to ear. We stopped at McDonald's, Mom's favorite. She's such a dear old soul! I made my way the fifty or so miles home with one headlight. I'll think about getting a new one tomorrow.

I'm sure I'll be getting a call tomorrow but, that's then and this is now and I wanted to share my situation with you good folks of Thrifty Fun.....people who are full of good advice, good humor and good hearts! Now that I've written it all down here, tomorrow looks pretty good too!

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February 10, 20090 found this helpful

Hi, Michael, just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading about your country-club foray in the Chevy truck. Please let us know what your SIL had to say! You should consider writing for money!

Nancy in NC

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June 14, 20190 found this helpful

We haf a rat in our car couple years ago in the air conditioning. Stunk to high heaven. Took it to auto shop who couldn't find anything. Took about a year for smell to go away. Frig me if we haven't had another rat in air con. It started to stink so today hubby got under dash pulled out air con fan which was full of tissues and plastic bags so we cleaned all that out then pulled bonnet up and removed plastic bits under windscreen so we could get to top of air con where we found the dead rat and his maggot family. The top of air con was stuffed with tissues and plastic. All cleaned up and poured a bottle of peppermint essence in before putting plastic back in place. Smells great again

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