odor coming from my car's vents

I purchased a used car (1997 Nissan 200SX) about six months ago and noticed a stale smell coming from the vents. I just figured it was because of the way car dealers clean the engine compartment to make the car more attractive to potential buyers and would eventually burn itself out.
Six months later and I can still smell it.
It doesn’t manifest itself with the air conditioner, only when the fan is on and the A/C is off.
What causes this and is there any way I can get rid of it?



“Fixing the Air Conditioner, Defrost, or Car Vent Smell
Disinfectant spraysDouglas Miske sent us an article by Cam McRae of the Toronto Star with advice on curing the a/c smell (see below). According to this article, dealers can eliminate the bacteria and other growths which cause the smell by using a disinfectant; holes may be drilled to get to hard to reach areas. Ford dealers have a new spray that is (a) less expensive than the one used by Chrysler, and much less expensive than the one used by GM; and (b) is supposed to prevent re-infestation. Do-it-yourselfers can save about $50 by buying Fresh Air from many department stores - it costs $15 (Canadian). Wynn’s also sells a spray.”

Just for fun, you might try carfax.com Input the VIN number & see where that car has been. You can see if its been in a flood. Bacteria smell would suck.

Save your money. Lysol works just fine. Just keep your car and A/C running, and shoot a 10-second blast into the A/C intake located between the hood and windshield. Repeat if necessary. Leave windows down afterward. (Lysol comes in different fragrances; all work.) This tip was given on PBS’s CAR TALK.

Thanks, Tsunami!! This did the trick! My car no longer stinks.
Also, thanks for the links, handy and astro…this info may prove to be beneficial down the road…