Some 2020 Hyundai Palisade Owners Are Fighting a Stinky Problem

On paper, the Hyundai Palisade looks like an excellent midsize SUV. It comes with a capable V6, plenty of interior space, and a lengthy list of standard features. But despite its good qualities, the Palisade has become infamous for a different reason: It stinks. Literally.

We’ve previously reported about Palisade owners with this unfortunate issue. The smell has been colorfully compared to the odor of gym socks, garlic, rotten food, and even dirty underwear. If that doesn’t scare you away, here are some of the latest reports we’ve found.

Why the Hyundai Palisade stinks

On PalisadeForums.org, Hyundai Palisade drivers are wistful for that new-car smell they never got to experience. Most liken their SUV’s odor to a garlic smell that seems to worsen when the weather is hot. One driver says it’s bearable only when they roll the windows down, but the smell always returns.

A few other drivers reported another odor that caused their car to reek like chemicals, but it was only temporary. Regardless of the scent, each odor is apparently strong enough to make drivers feel sick to their stomachs. Though the entire interior is smelly, most drivers say the stench is stronger in the front of the cabin.

One CarComplaints user said a glue-like smell doesn’t go away even with intense cleaning. They poured baking soda all over the carpets and let it sit overnight, but the odor lingered into the morning. They also ran a dehumidifier inside the car with no success, ruling out a mildew problem. 

As a last resort, they recommend buying or renting an ozone machine to blast out the stench. Otherwise, leaving the HVAC system on seems to fix the problem temporarily.

A smelly cabin isn’t the only thing about the Palisade that needs fixing. Several other users on PalisadeForums.org reported the steering wheel isn’t centered correctly and sometimes makes an unsettling sound when turning. In some cases, the wheels aren’t aligned properly either.

Though dealers can fix those issues, some drivers aren’t so lucky. One PalisadeForum.org user reports the third-row passenger seat frequently pops up on its own when it’s folded down. Some users suggested a faulty switch, but mechanics weren’t able to diagnose the problem.

How to freshen up your Palisade

RELATED: 2021 Toyota Highlander vs. Hyundai Palisade: The Student Conquers the Teacher

So far, Hyundai hasn’t really given a satisfactory fix for the odors. The automaker released a technical bulletin instructing owners to saturate the foam inside headrests and seatbacks with Febreze. However, this led many drivers to question why Hyundai didn’t recall the seatbacks.  To make matters worse, Hyundai stressed that only a professional should take the components apart. 

Thankfully, the bulletin also says Hyundai will replace the headrests if the smell remains after two cleaning attempts. A PalisadeForums.org user was pleased to report their Palisade is stench-free after they got the headrests replaced in January. Though we appreciate the solution, it’s not something owners should have to deal with in the first place.

Dear Hyundai: Please fix the Palisade

The fact that an easily fixable problem mars the Hyundai Palisade’s reputation really, well, stinks. The Palisade has earned many awards for value, safety, and performance. Critics don’t seem to notice the smell, but it can be hard to detect after just one test drive.

It’s also troubling that Hyundai might’ve used subpar materials in a vehicle that can cost close to $50,000. We’ve yet to see complaints regarding the 2021 model’s smell, so we hope the issue has been solved. The Hyundai Palisade has the potential to be great, but we can’t recommend a vehicle that reeks of hot garbage.