CAR STORIES > The Disgusting Aftermath of Hitting a Deer

The Disgusting Aftermath of Hitting a Deer

Just What Happens When a Car Hits a Deer?

2013-12-02 13.44.00

This is a story from early in my auto-detailing career. One fine day I received a call from an insurance company. They wanted to know if I could help them with a car that had hit a deer. I said, “What the hell.”

Something All Drivers Fear

Hitting a deer is one of the things drivers fear. There you are on a backcountry road, and Bambi jumps out in front of you. The owner of the car in question didn’t just hit the deer – he ran over it and smashed the entrails into every nook and cranny under the car. There were guts strewn throughout the undercarriage and bowels below the engine. The stink and stank made the employees run for their morning break.

In the Detail Shop: Beyond Stink, Stank, Stunk

Once the car was at the detail shop it was time to thoroughly get a grasp of where all the body parts were tucked. Yes indeed, Bambi was no longer a cute cartoon character but a bunch of smelly, gelatinous chunks. Calling it rotten meat would be an upgrade. It wasn’t that surprising. The car sat around while the insurance company tried to figure out what to do. We could see blood on the very front of the car and pressure washed it off. That was the easy part. Visually things looked good. However, it didn’t have any effect on the disgusting odor or the fun waiting for us beneath the car.

At this point I had the crew jack up the car in the wash bay. Once it was in the air, I could get underneath and check things out. What I saw was beyond horrifying. There were slimy, rotting skin chunks and maggoty meat stuck to the undercarriage of the car. This foul smelling meat package from hell was packed in. The deer flesh was even neatly and tightly packed next to the engine. This offered an extra bonus: When the car heated up the smell went from hellacious to vomit-inducing as the rotted deer meat cooked around the engine. Nummy … if you are a zombie.

The first thing we did was use a hot-water pressure washer to blast out the meat. It wasn’t easy, but after about an hour we had most of the solid matter removed. I suppose we could have stopped there, but I had a feeling we needed to do more. The last thing anyone wanted was that dead meat smell to come back.

How to Really Clean Roadkill From a Car

By this time I had given this problem a lot of thought. We needed to hit the underside of the car hard. Harder than poor Bambi hit the car. I had the crew mix up an almost straight mixture of industrial, all-purpose cleaner and water. Next, we soaked the entire underside of the car with the cleaning mixture. We let the stuff soak in for about 10 minutes to make sure all maggots died. At this point it was time to go over the underside again with the hot pressure washer. again. This method took off all of the remaining innards. I had this done two more times just for good measure.

We couldn’t tell right away if this was the final solution to the deer stink. It was a warm day, and after letting the car warm up in the sun, it was time to give it a sniff test. I put my nose into all the wheel wells. I also sniffed the front grill and radiator. Everything smelled fine – no rotten smell at all. But I wasn’t ready to call the insurance adjuster just yet.

I wanted to make sure we had really solved the problem. I decided to park the car inside the detail shop overnight. Risky, but we had kind of gotten used to the smell of rotting deer, so I went for it. When we came in the next morning, we were shocked and happy to find the shop smelling fresh and ready for another day’s work. I walked around the car and got inside to check for any bad odors. Nope: The rotting dead Bambi smell was all gone. OCD vs. Rotten Bambi Entrails was over. The OCD detailer won again.

Deer aren’t the only roadkill hazards out there. Another common animal that comes to mind is the dreaded skunk. Wow, that’s bad! This problem came into the shop twice. The crew hated me for volunteering to take on these jobs. But what the heck – the insurance companies didn’t care what it cost. It was a lot less than writing off the cost of the car and handing the owner a fat check. Who else would take this on? Only an obsessive car detailer like me. I hate to give up without a fight.

2 comments on “The Disgusting Aftermath of Hitting a Deer

  1. I had this same thing happen to me except the deer was already dead lying in the middle of the lane literally. Some jerk who killed it didn’t move it out of the road like they’re supposed to so other drivers won’t hit it. I Could not avoid it cause I would have caused an accident . So I had no choice but to take it on with my 2013 Honda Civic si. I was so hurt when it happened cause I could feel my car being damaged. No damage at all luckily … hopefully. But I do have guts and blood all over my engine bay and under carriage. The smell is horrific when the heat of my car gets up. … I DO NOT have access to a pressure washer … any at home remedies that will solve the trick ? I was thinking soak my engine bay and under carriage with all purpose cleaner let it soak and then spray it off with my house hose as best as I can. .. let me know if you have any other suggestions please. I’m tired of feeling like I want to throw up. Lol

    • Hi Luis, yes you can try this at home. I have to caution you about protecting your engines electronics and connectors from water. I suggest you watch some Youtube videos on engine cleaning and what to protect from water. Many components like fuel injectors, cam position sensors, speed sensors and more just can’t get wet. Your car may run poorly or not at all. Use extreme caution. If it fits your budget this really is a job for a top rated auto detail shop. Please do some research before you take this on. Best of luck, Bradley

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