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AC odor removal and cleaning

Discussion in 'Model 3' started by Lanzer, Jun 8, 2019.

  1. turok3000

    turok3000 Member

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    Seattle, WA
    Fyi - if you turn AC on from the Tesla mobile app whilst you're outside the car and it's locked, it will stay on for 4 hours (or it might've 6, can't remember exactly but it's a long time, for sure).
     
  2. suitep

    suitep Member

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    st. germain south
     
  3. suitep

    suitep Member

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    I have had many cars that ended up having what I call the ; wet dog ; smell. I have never had it in a new car that I bought and drove for many years. I have determined in most cases where this smell comes from....and it is potentially very hazardous. The problem begins when people start using their a/c with the recirculation button selected. This causes the a/c to only use the air that is in the car instead of outside fresh air. When on recirculate; the humidity of the car goes extremely high.....because the perspiration and sometimes damp clothes are contributing moisture that can not be removed. As the temperature drops.....the humidity goes very high and that humid air contacting the cooling coil causes condensation. In that condensation is a persons hair follicles, rejected skin,after products of smoking.....if you smoke, bacteria from sneezing or coughing,etc. in other words.....particles from the person in the car. Eventually after enough of this product is on the cooling coil....you get a mould type of organism growing. This organism is alive and as parts of it further decay...you get the smell. Worse than that.....this organism can manufacture spores that it releases into the air flow and you ingest some of it into your respiratory system. This has been known to cause a condition called Legionnaires Disease....which has killed many people. Your immune system will not try to fight this infection because the source of the infection is byproducts of YOU....and the immune system has no way to react to it. Look it up!!
    By using the fresh air input into the car, you force the humid and contaminated air out of the car and replace it with fresh clean air. The only time to use recirculated air is for a couple of minutes after starting the car to help get some of the temperature down.....but only two minutes.
    If you have the problem...and smell....you have to use a powerful disinfectant to kill the mould that creates the smell...and ultimately the spores. Just my two cents worth. Warren
     
  4. joebruin77

    joebruin77 Member

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    Location:
    Encino, CA
    I had the same issue with my very first car, a 1979 Honda Accord. The fix involved 1) Spraying Lysol disinectant spray into the air vents prior to turning on the HVAC system 2) Turning on the HVAC system to circulate the Lyol and keep running for several minutes so that the Lysol is completely distributed and dried out 3) As others have suggested, after driving with the AC on and a mile or two prior to your destination, turn off the AC so that just the fan is blowing fresh air throughout the system. By turning off the AC and running the fan for a few minutes prior to exiting the car, you dry out any condensation that formed and was most likely a major contributing factor to the formation of the mildew/mold to begin with.
     
  5. rrsurfer1

    rrsurfer1 Member

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    Aug 8, 2018
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    Location:
    NC
    Thanks so much for this fix, I've also experienced this smell and figured it was A/C condenser but wasn't sure on the location. Bought the cleaner and will try it out!
     
  6. Jerryt175

    Jerryt175 Member

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    Libertville
    So you can't get rid of this smell just by replacing the filters? You have to clean the condensers?


     
  7. Kleenerth3

    Kleenerth3 Member

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    Vista CA
    Yup. This is typical of any A/C system. Another post stated that the filters were fairly new, these should be changed! If you smell mold or mildew, guaranteed it's on the filters, they rest against the condenser. Great tips for avoiding, esp. turning off system as you're close to the end of the drive. In my ICE cars, I know it worked because no puddle forms underneath when parked. This has become a regular habit for me. Mold, mildew and bacteria thrive in moisture. Eliminate it and much less chance of a stinky car. The new update should help greatly. Great tutorial BTW on cleaning. McGuiver would be proud
     
  8. super20g

    super20g Member

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    So are you are saying the reason early/mid 2018 and prior cars suffer from this is because the firmware to help with this didn't get pushed until late 2018 so those cars had x amount of time to grow that mold/mildew in the system?
     
  9. Dave Mac

    Dave Mac Member

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    Mar 31, 2016
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    AL
    My mobile service appointment for next week was cancelled because they need to get a tool, and then have offered to do a one-time courtesy cleaning with note about the firmware that is/was coming to fix it. I do need to ask, however, because some people have had service due to a bad sensor that causes re-circ to always be on. It's my understanding that auto should cycle between fresh and recirc and I am not sure if mine is doing that. As far as I can tell, it's always on recirc.
     
  10. Surfhog

    Surfhog New Member

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    Jun 8, 2019
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    Location:
    4755 Lamont
    Taking my model 3 in next week for this issue . Curious to see if they will now do anything about it. I’ll keep you posted .
     
  11. Lanzer

    Lanzer Member

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    San Jose
    Exactly. The technical aspect of whether this is something Tesla should cover as part of their warranty isn't as black and white as a cracked window or broken part, so we will be seeing different results from various service centers.
     
  12. Lanzer

    Lanzer Member

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    San Jose
    I have to make a correction here. What I was seeing in the photo is the evaporator and not the condenser. I thought that the "condenser generates condensation" but turns out the evaporator "evaporates hence generates colder temperature". Didn't think that through the first time around.
     
    • Like x 1
  13. SJC3

    SJC3 Member

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    Location:
    bay area
    So is this a different firmware from the cars software or are we talking about the same thing? If so, which version addressed this? Would hate to do the cleaning and then have it happen again if it’s some special firmware the impacted cars need.
     
  14. Dave Mac

    Dave Mac Member

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    AL
    After mobile service was cancelled and I got the voicemail, I got a text that the issue would be taken care of with firmware and until that time, just start the HVAC a few minutes before getting in. So, no cleaning but an offer to replace filters for $148.

    I have since been checking the re-circ an auto while driving, and it does change, so I can rule out a bad sensor. As discussed above, I still think the issue is mold growth over time before the firmware fix. I think the fix is already in place, as I have observed the fan running after parking, but I could be wrong.

    No matter what, if the smell does remain, I will try to get it cleaned under warranty.
     
  15. super20g

    super20g Member

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    Squeaky wheel gets greased. They are getting cheap. Understandable with cash flow problems, but legitimate issues should be covered when some service centers do and others do not.
     
  16. KenR

    KenR Member

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    Atlanta
    So I wasted a morning going to the SC. I made an appointment about this and they told me to come in. The man said there is no firmware update at this time. All they would offer was to change both Air Filters at a cost of $159. I guess I need to go by a Torx wrench and do it myself. And why didn't I buy the dang filters from them before I left?? grrrrr .....
     
  17. Big Earl

    Big Earl Supporting Member

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    Correct.

    The condenser (exterior heat exchanger on a typical air conditioning system) is where the refrigerant "gives up" its heat to the atmosphere, causing it to condense back into a liquid. The evaporator (interior heat exchanger) is where the refrigerant absorbs heat from the cabin, causing it to boil and evaporate.

    Model 3 and Model S have two evaporators - one for the cabin air conditioning and one for battery cooling. Model X with rear air conditioning has a third evaporator.
     
    • Informative x 2
  18. David99

    David99 Active Member

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    Brea, Orange County
    I'm surprised that Tesla isn't letting the fan run after the AC is turned off. That should definitely help getting the moisture out of the entire system and prevent mold from building up. I always used to do that manually with my on ICE cars. But then the Model S also just stops the AC and fan and in 5 years I never had any issues with smell at all. I figured Tesla must have found a way to prevent mold issues in some other way.
     
  19. Big Earl

    Big Earl Supporting Member

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    They do on the Model 3. A recent software update will run the cabin fan for 20 minutes when the vehicle is parked after a trip that uses the air conditioning. Apparently this isn't enough in some climates. I haven't noticed any strange smells yet, but we've only had the car for just under a year (although it has 33,000 miles on it already).
     
  20. ngogas

    ngogas Active Member

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    Utah
    How often did you have to do this? I imagine the build up of mild dew happens within 3 months.
     

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