January 28

2009 Toyota Venza Interior Mold

Toyota, Podcast


Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver's best auto service experience. 19-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking about cars. How you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well this morning.

Mark: So we have a 2009 Toyota Venza that has interior mold. This is pretty unknown territory for us to cover. What was going on with this Toyota Venza?

Bernie: Well, yeah, this vehicle was brought to us by a client who, they'd moved from Alberta, they'd left the vehicle sitting for a few months, and wanted to now insure it in British Columbia, so if you're unfamiliar with the laws around these parts, when you bring a vehicle into British Columbia, it has to have a provincial safety inspection on the vehicle. So we got into the vehicle, or opened the door, and found this severe mold, like really dangerous level of mold inside the vehicle. And so what prompted me to want to do this podcast is, I want to educate folks who are moving, perhaps from other places, of the dangers of mold and how it can happen in vehicles. Or if you're planning on storing your car, that this is a real issue that can happen.

So we'll get right into pictures, because that really shows the best ... So there's our Toyota Venza on the outside. It's a little dirty. Again, it had been sitting for a while. But nice, clean, straight body on this vehicle. But getting into pictures that sort of ... we say a picture is worth 1,000 words, that's the picture. This is the passenger seat. I'm not an expert on mold, but there's definitely a few different strains and types of mold. And really not removable by shampooing, especially this black mold. Once it gets in, it's in there and stained, and it'll never come out of the interior.

2009 Toyota Venza Interior Mold
2009 Toyota Venza Interior Mold
2009 Toyota Venza Interior Mold
2009 Toyota Venza Interior Mold
2009 Toyota Venza Interior Mold
2009 Toyota Venza Interior Mold

Another view, this is the back seat of the vehicle. As you can see, it's covered as well. The driver's, we'd been sitting in it with blankets on top to protect ourselves. But other areas, too. This is just, when you open the driver's door, you've got mold and dirt here, there's mold growing down in these areas, and just all over the vehicle, and in any sort of space where there's some organic material, basically mold growing.

Mark: So is there anything that can be done about mold when it's this severe?

Bernie: You know, what the owner of this vehicle's faced with doing, because ... well, first thing we thought is, okay, we don't even want to get in this vehicle and drive it. Let's get it to a detailer to have it cleaned out and taken care of. So we took it to a nearby detailer, very reputable, they do a good job, and their first look was "Oh, you know, we can't clean this out. That'll never come out of the vehicle." If it was light mold, maybe a lighter colour, they might have been able to shampoo it off. But they kindly treated it with an ozone machine, which kills a lot of mold spores, and certainly reduces the odour greatly, to the point where we could actually at least get in the vehicle and use it. But we always had a mask on.

But the long and short of it is what the owner of the vehicle's now gonna be doing, is actually having the interior ripped out of the vehicle. Some things can be shampooed and cleaned, but the seats will more than likely need to be replaced, the upholstery and the seats.

Mark: So as you alluded to, it's not really even safe, when the mold is this bad, it's not really even safe to be in the vehicle, is that right?

Bernie: No, definitely not. You could get very sick from mold. I mean, I've been in a lot of cars that are moldy. We've probably all been in, walked through a house that's got a little bit of mold in it. But long-term exposure to these kind of things could cause some pretty severe sicknesses. So it's definitely not the kind of thing you want to be in.

Mark: And so how did mold this severe form in the vehicle? What's sort of the history behind it?

Bernie: So this vehicle was brought from Alberta, which is a much drier climate. The owners had left it sitting for a little while, a few months, she told me. And when they got back in the vehicle, it was full of mold. And she said "I was really surprised, because in Alberta you can leave things indefinitely, and you never get mold. It's a much drier climate." But here on the coast, it's wet, and mold is just the kind of thing that happens. I've been in people's cabins that have been left to get too cool and moldy. But a lot of things that cause mold, of course, are moisture and organic material. So you spill some coffee on the carpet of your car. There's something for mold to ... I'm not a scientist on this stuff, but mold will form around these kind of things. And you know, it's really where there's moisture, there's maybe a little bit of warmth, but not a lot of air circulation and usage, the mold will develop.

Mark: Yeah, this almost looks like the kind of level of mold that you would see from a car that had been in a flood or in a hurricane or something like that.

Bernie: Well, exactly. Now, yeah, and of course the key with that is there's too much water content in the vehicle. So for whatever reason, you know, there's a lot of moisture in this vehicle, and that's where it came from. This certainly wasn't a flood vehicle, but that's the kind of thing you can expect from a flood-damaged vehicle also.

Mark: So how can you prevent this from happening to your vehicle?

Bernie: Well, that's an excellent question. And of course, as I said, the reason I wanted to do this podcast is for someone who's moving from a drier climate to a moist climate, just be aware that mold is a big issue if you leave a vehicle sitting. Where you store the vehicle is, of course, important if we're talking about cars. If you have a heated garage or maybe an underground, in an apartment complex storage where it's very dry, that's a good place to store it, because mold isn't gonna likely form. But for other areas, I mean, I have an RV trailer. I always put these, they're called Dri-Z crystals, I'll show you a picture in a minute, in the trailer. And this prevents mold from forming, because I can guarantee you it's in the first year of owning a trailer, it would have been full of mold. It's just the way we use these things, there's moisture, mold forms really quickly.

So we'll get back, do another quick screen share here. Yeah, so this is a really good mold preventative technique. So if you have a vehicle, say you're not gonna drive it for a month or two and it's gonna be stored outside or wherever, there's moisture, you can get one of these, it's like a special basket, and it holds these crystals. And underneath it traps water. So putting one or two of these inside a vehicle would be a fantastic thing. Even one is probably enough. And that basically just takes all the moisture out of the air. Somehow they bond with these crystals and it drops in this bucket here. So that's a really good way to prevent mold. There are probably some other chemical methods that I'm not aware of. I've used this in my RV trailer and it works fantastic. And I'll just show another shot, you can see more detail. This is with the top of the basket, these are these crystals. And I don't know how they do it, but it just absorbs moisture right out of the air.

One caution, though. If you do do this, be very careful with this water. If you spill it on anything, it's highly toxic. And it'll stain fabric, so just be careful with it.

Mark: So the interior obviously needs a lot of repair on this, and expensive repairs, I would assume, on this Venza. But how was the rest of the car?

Bernie: Oh, it was good. It needed a couple items, had a cracked windshield, typical for Alberta. Every car comes from Alberta with a cracked windshield. That, and a tail light, and a check engine light. You know, a few minor repairs. Other than that, the vehicle's in really good shape. Only 110,000 kilometres. So it's a Toyota, lots of good life left in it.

Mark: And a Venza.

Bernie: And a Venza.

Mark: I'm a fan. So ...

Bernie: Yeah, you're a fan of Venzas, I know.

Mark: And of course, we don't have rocks in British Columbia, just wet.

Bernie: You say rocks?

Mark: Yeah.

Bernie: Oh, yeah, we do. It's kind of a joke, but it's like some places the roads are a little more gravelly, cracked windshields are just the norm.

Mark: So there you go. If you have run into mold in your vehicle, take precautions, don't leave them out for very long, or come and see us at Pawlik Automotive. You can reach us at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. Have to book ahead, we're busy. Or check out the website, PawlikAutomotive.com. YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. There's hundreds of videos on there on all makes and models and different issues with vehicles, and years of vehicles. And of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast. Thank you, Bernie.

Bernie: Thank you, Mark, and thanks for watching.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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