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Someone suggested I post here, I will give it a shot. I must have a gen 2 2016 ls manual shift. When the recirc button is on (we dont have auto hvac, just manual buttons) we still get outside odors strong as if the windows were open and I have severe asthma so this is a rather large issue. I do hear the cabin air pressure change when you engage the recirc button so I assume its covering it right.
I had asked the salesman and a service tech if it had a cabin air filter in it from mfg as our last car (toyota yaris) did not I was able to rectify that myself tho'. This car has a fully molded glove box non removable we've already ironed that fact down.
So I can only assume if it has a filter its under the air grid below wipers...I did unsnap it to peek in but did not remove wipers (dont know how hate to attempt it, but will if I must since dealer is avoiding the issue).
Just wondered if anyone else has this in newer 2016 gen 2 cruze's.
Mostly we smell odors to sides of the car...mowing grass etc...and its strong as heck as I said before.
Thanks for any clues.
2 things to touch on...

*Verify there was a filter. My other car the 1st production year didn't get a filter in the filter tray for the HVAC. Took half the car apart to replace a non existent filter for all those years for owner 1 and me.

*Must have fresh air drawn in even in recirc mode. Was gonna post a bunch of fancy links and stuff but I'm gonna save the redirect. You need fresh air to come in to prevent a fester of germs being recirculated around the cabin on long trips. If you get bored and want to read, sick building syndrome google topic.


Only fix you can do to lessen this is installing a carbon hvac filter over the traditional one.
 

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Does your owners manual mention a cabin filter in the maintenance schedule in the back? I really can't see GM removing this from the new model, even if an LS. I did see the first few years of chevy volt came with a tray like our cruze with no cabin filter installed!

I suspect though this is something your going to have to learn to live with, even if you add a cabin filter or a better one you will still get outside smells in the car. Problem with using recirculate instead of fresh air? Those smells get trapped in the car 6X longer. You should have seen me drive though smoke from someone burning leaves next to the road in my Gen1 cruze with a carbon cabin filter installed, entire cabin filled with smoke!!! Same thing I do after passing a stinky farm, I put the windows down to clear the smell.
Yeah, that's how my Subaru was. $36k window sticker and $80 for a dealership to look and see if there is one to change it. Reason owner #1 didn't bother and a few years later they made it easier to change w/o taking the center console and radio apart to get to it. This was me changing it a year after I put one in. No wonder people have HVAC issues years later cause all this is inside the system. Look how flimsy this filter is vs ours in the Cruze. It's a drier sheet on steroids for $60-$80 if you just get it from dealer or let them install. Reason you see most of us wrenching cause we can't afford simple maintenance.



Now when it came time for me to change my carbon filter on the Cruze, this is what I had to look forewarn to in a years time frame.







Sucks for me as there is a huge forest cut down to build my job so there is always a dead skunk smell as I drive up. if I don't turn HVAC off 1 minute prior then the smell is trapped inside the car 8 hours later when i come back out to leave.
 

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Well we were on hi' way over wknd and got diesel fumes from trucks in front of us just like window was open, this is really a problem. Our old car had very little if any of this issue Im really bummed cause of my health issues.
Did you get in there and verify there is a filter?
 
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