Great News! Hyundai Figured Out Why Its Palisades Smell Like Rotten Ass

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Photo: Hyundai

Hyundai Palisade owners have been dealing with a very smelly problem: their cars smell. They reek. The odor was reminiscent of rotten, garlicky produce reminiscent of driving around in a decomposing produce bin paired with a lot of chemicals. Hyundai, though, has the answer: imitation leather.


Back in August, reported on the stench, and it’s that has once again found the answer. That stinky, shitty smell is coming from the imitation leather covering of head restraints in the Palisade Limited and Calligraphy trim levels that are outfitted with Nappa leather seats. A manufacturing flaw is causing the odor. And the stinky smell is only getting worse.

It seems hard to believe that the smell is coming from nothing but head restraints, but Hyundai claims that they’re from a different manufacturer than it normally uses and that swapping them out has solved the problem. New Palisades are outfitted with new head restraints, so the problem shouldn’t be present in any newer models.

When it comes to solving the problem for current smelly Palisade owners, has an answer:

In our previous report, we shared that our dealership had been instructed to remove each head restraint’s covering and apply an odor-neutralizing solution to the inside. This remains the first line of attack in Hyundai Technical Service Bulletin No. 20-BD-018H, which also directs technicians to spray the solution down the head restraint post holes in the seatbacks. Unfortunately, this treatment doesn’t always work, and our Palisade was just such a case. If customers are unsatisfied with the results of the first attempt and return to the dealer, the TSB directs the service department to repeat the treatment with a different odor-eliminating product.

If the treatment doesn’t work, Hyundai will replace your smelly headrests with a whole new set of the freshly manufactured ones for no cost.

Considering that the problem is limited to specific trims, Hyundai has said that it hasn’t received a ton of complaints compared to the number of models sold. Hyundai had sold 96,838 Palisades in the U.S. since the model’s debut, reports, and the site has received hundreds of complaints.


A stinky car is the worst hell that we can experience here on earth. After a trip home from college when I was a wee 18-year-old kiddo, my mom sent me home with a bag of mason jars of homemade soup. The bag tipped in my car, but I didn’t realize one mason jar was left behind under the seat. On my way home for Thanksgiving in literal stop-and-go traffic (it took six hours to make a 50-mile drive), the top came loose, spilling putrid soup onto the floor. I didn’t realize it until I went to return to college a week later, at which point the rotten soup had baked in the Texas sun.

Folks. It was bad. My mom and I deep-cleaned the car and bombed it with scented smoke. Once a week, I replaced all the air filters, Febreezed the hell out of everything, and left the car in the sun hoping to bake the scent out. It took about six months before I could drive with the windows up again.


So my heart goes out to all you stinky Hyundai owners. Take your bad boy into the dealership and get that stench taken care of.



Wait, nappa leather seats come with fake leather headrests?

I get that the non-touch surfaces in leather interiors and things like the armrests aren’t usually real leather because they’re high-traffic/impact areas, but seriously Hyundai the headrest?

Not sure if I’m spoiled by our cars but selling luxury brands you start to see where the “luxurious” off-brand stuff skimps out and sometimes it’s truly baffling. I thought Hyundai going upmarket would do it right but I guess you gotta save money somewhere to sell these so cheap.