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How to Eliminate the Musty Smell From the Vents of a Dodge RAM 1500

by Kevin Mclain

All vehicles tend to produce their own type of smell depending on what areas the vehicle has been exposed to. Everyday musty smells from the outside can circulate through the air intake system and into the cab of the vehicle. Some smells are so strong that they produce an odor inside of the vehicle that lingers and absorbs into the upholstery and the carpet. These types of odors require a precise cleaning process to remove the odors. The Dodge RAM 1500 truck is designed with an air intake system that is easily accessible for removing the odors from the cab.

Fill a 5-gallon bucket with water and liquid dish soap. Remove the inside air vents from the Dodge RAM 1500 by using a small flat head screwdriver to carefully pry the vents out of the dash. Carefully pry one side of the vents out at a time until the vents pop out of the vent brackets.

Place the vents into the soapy water and let them soak while spraying the disinfectant into the air intake system. Open the hood and lock it in place.

Locate the air filter box inside of the engine compartment. The air filter box houses the vehicle's air filter. Loosen the clamp from the round vent port that travels from the back of the air filter box to the cab of the truck with a screwdriver. Once the clamp is loose from the vent port, pull the port off the back of the air filter box.

Slide the plastic tubing into the air filter vent port as far as it will go. Crank the engine and turn the air conditioner controls to the cold position. Also turn the fan blower motor to the maximum speed and turn the outside air circulation button on. This will allow the outside air to circulate throughout the inside of the cab.

Move back to the engine and spray about half of the can of disinfectant into the plastic tubing. This process will saturate the entire air flow system with disinfectant from the back of the air filter box, through the air vents and into the cab of the truck. Use the whole can if necessary. Once the can is empty, remove the plastic` tubing and reinstall the vent port back to the rear of the air filter box. Tighten the clamp back down tight around the port.

Let the engine continue to run for about five minutes with the air conditioner controls still on maximum speed and with the outside air circulation button in the on position. Turn the engine off. Move to the bucket of soapy water and thoroughly clean the air vents with a clean rag. Use an old tooth brush to clean the corners of the vents and to remove any hard to remove stains. Also clean the vent brackets inside of the cab with a soapy rag. Dry the vents and the vent brackets off with a clean rag.

Reinstall the air vents to the vent brackets by snapping them back into place with your hand. Insert a dryer fabric softener sheet into each vent through the vent slots. Crank the engine and turn the air conditioner controls to the "Hot" position and the fan motor to max speed. Also make sure that the outside air circulation button is still in the "On" position.

Let the engine run for another five minutes and shut the engine off. Remove the dryer sheets from the vents. This process will allow the hot air to blow across the dryer sheets, releasing the pleasant smell of the dryer sheets into the cab of the truck. The smell of the dryer sheets will also absorb into the upholstery and the carpet.


  • You can also use car air fresheners to maintain a pleasant smell inside of the truck after the odors have been removed.
  • Vinegar and water can also be used to clean the inside of the vents in place of liquid soap and water.
  • Replace the cabin air filter as recommended by the Dodge Ram 1500 owners manual to prevent more odors from getting into the cab of the truck.


  • Use caution when working around an engine that is running.

Items you will need

About the Author

Kevin Mclain has more than 20 years of automotive, home improvement and landscaping experience. He has been writing for various online publications since 2002. Mclain has U.S. Army certification in automotive maintenance and repair, among more than 15 additional certifications related to the automotive field.

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