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AC odor removal and cleaning

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

  1. super20g

    super20g Member

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    I think if you especially have had it on auto and have the mold/bacteria growth issue in the first year, they should probably clean it for free and apologize for the inconvenience.... Doesn't seem like it should be occurring that quickly on a new luxury car that touts clean air.
     
  2. MacGreiner

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    Are there any 3rd party options available yet? Can't find anything on amazon.
     
  3. asus389

    asus389 Member

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    Can someone explain to me why running the AC on fresh air prevents this issue? I would think that if the humidity outside is high, as it is in the summer in many parts of the country, the AC would produce more condensate with outside air flowing over the evaporator than it would on recirculate. In theory, recirculating the same air over the evaporator would drop the humidity in the car as successive passes of the inside air go over the evaporator and the water drips off and down the drain. That’s how AC systems work in houses. Or am I missing something here?
     
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  4. PoitNarf

    PoitNarf My dog's breath smells like dog food

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    I’m sure there will be 3rd party cabin air filters at some point, but for right now the Tesla filters are the only option.
     
    • Informative x 1
  5. lolder

    lolder Member

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    I believe you are correct.
     
  6. SomeJoe7777

    SomeJoe7777 Marginally-Known Member

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    Mobile service came and cleaned the evaporator and changed cabin filters on my P3D yesterday. Smell is gone, vents are now minty-fresh. :)

    No charge, was done as warranty work.

    He also installed the Dual Motor Performance badge while he was here. Spoilers still unavailable. :(
     
  7. Dr. J

    Dr. J Member

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    Someone earlier or on a different but similar thread pointed out that in a closed car, you've got human beings continuously emanating moisture through perspiration and exhaling which ratchets up the humidity higher than even a very humid outdoors. I haven't done any tests, but it seems plausible. I have definitely noticed recirc to cause a musty odor over time.
     
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  8. Lanzer

    Lanzer Member

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    You're not missing anything, I think others might had been talking about other aspects of the car's AC.
    There are multiple aspects to humidity and AC. There are a couple of things to consider:
    - Recirculation does trap humidity inside the car, but this mainly affects cars during winter where all windows creates condensation as the interior temperature is warmer, making the car very humid inside. Which is why it's suggested to turn on fresh air to keep window from fogging up.
    - If the car is hotter than the outside air, recirculation should be turned off so that cooler air will be used. This has nothing to do with humidity of course but to make the AC work more efficiently.
    - When AC is running and the interior is cool, the AC evaporator coil takes the humidity out of the air and generally makes the car less humid inside. You will find that most articles suggest keeping air recirculating at this point, as lower humidity makes us feel cooler.
    - If you are experiencing mold or mildew smell, then you should consider using fresh air just to help push out the contaminants, technically speaking. However opening the windows for a bit would be much more efficient in getting rid of airborne contaminants.
    - Lastly, the humidity issue concerning this thread is in relation to the condensation/water left on the AC evaporator coils after the car's been turned off. Tesla's firmware update last year has the fan blowing after the AC's been turned off to prevent the mildew causing moisture to build up. I have no info on whether the car's pushing fresh or recirculating air during this step, but I would assume it's fresh air as the goal here isn't to just get rid of moisture, but to also warm the evaporator coils so no further condensation takes place.
     
    • Informative x 2
  9. Goosby

    Goosby Member

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    I have mobile tech scheduled to come out to do the same evaporator cleaning. While the service center said it wouldn’t be a warranty claim, I’m hopeful the tech will think otherwise. In the mean time, I saw a post somewhere else where someone suggested running the heater on high for a bit to dry things out. I left the windows down, let the car heat my garage for a couple hours and haven’t smelled anything since. It may be a short term fix, and I don’t know if leaving the heater on for extended periods of time is doing more harm than good, but at least I don’t have a sour smell in my car after work when pre-conditioning.
     
  10. Milkman

    Milkman Member

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    OMG! I thought it was me imagining things. I can't stand the smell. I thought something must have spilled. I cleaned the interor top to bottom and the smell was still there. I'm calling Tesla ASAP.
     
  11. asus389

    asus389 Member

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    Is there any indication that the software fix works to prevent the issue? Also, I’m curious as to what they used to clean the evaporator?
     
  12. neo302

    neo302 Member

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    I ran my M3 with the recirculation off for a few days and I don't smell it anymore as of now.
     
  13. rhaekar

    rhaekar Member

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    I took my car in today for cleaning and replacing the filters. I would hope they would do it for free under warranty but after arguing a bit, they dropped the price down to $95 for replacing the filters and HVAC cleaning.

    Now that I turned off AC on cabin overheat, hopefully I don't have this problem again.
     
  14. Eno Deb

    Eno Deb Active Member

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    I changed my air filters and used Klima Cleaner on the evaporator over the weekend. It's pretty easy, except that you need to be a bit flexible to remove the screw holding the filter cover. ;) Thanks to the OP for the suggestion.

    The smell hasn't returned so far. I also checked my car after parking in my garage and noticed that the fans do actually turn on for 20 minutes or so after a while if you used the A/C (I'm on firmware 2019.20.4.2), so that should hopefully help to mitigate the issue in the future.
     
  15. derotam

    derotam Member

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    Have you tried more deodorant? That "musty" smell while on recirc might just be your or a passengers BO. haha ;)
     
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  16. dcdttu

    dcdttu Member

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    I park in a garage at work and at home, so my overheat protection doesn't ever turn on - and I've got the smell. :-( It's likely inevitable if you're in a humid area, and in Austin where I am it's been raining almost daily lately (which is weird but we don't mind!).
     
  17. Eno Deb

    Eno Deb Active Member

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    The smell can develop without ever using overheat protection with A/C, including in areas that don't have particularly high humidity like the South Bay Area. I've never had that option on, but my car still developed the smell about 8 months in. But this new "dry cycle" feature that they implemented in one of the recent firmware updates may (hopefully) help to prevent or slow it down in the future. But if your car is already affected, the evaporator must be cleaned (and perhaps the filters replaced).
     
  18. chronopc

    chronopc Active Member

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    Where can I purchase the filters? Are there any 3rd party filters available?
     
  19. Fusion

    Fusion Member

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    Toyota cars seem to get the musty smell the fastest. You would think that they would of thought of a way to keep stinky mold from growing on the condenser by now.
     
  20. SMAlset

    SMAlset Well-Known Member

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    Also during the wild fires in California one of our members was testing the air quality in the car on recirc to see how effective it was a keeping the smoky air VOCs out of the cabin. What he found out was that if on recirc all the time the car's interior material would be offgassing and building up plus as mentioned above the human body will add to the mixture. Getting some fresh air inside helps purge some of this. I've also found that when the air smells a bit off I'll through it on recirc and it does seem to freshen the air.
     
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