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Bad odor - filters replaced - mild smell still lingers when car is OFF - help?

My Model S developed a musty/moldy odor, which the service center deemed as being due to dirty filters, after disassembling things and making sure there wasn't anything dead and decaying stuck in the car. They replaced the HEPA/cabin filters and the musty/moldy smell mostly went away, but still exists and is most noticeable if the car has been sitting off for a few hours. While most noticeable inside, trace amounts can be smelled outside of the vehicle in the garage when you are near it.

If the HVAC is run, it seems to help dissipate the smell and make it less noticeable, so it doesn't seem to be a result of running the system. I've tried switching back and forth between heat, A/C, and bio-defense mode, but none of these actions reproduce the smell.

Are there any others in between the filters and vents that may be dirty and will need to be replaced?

As I have another month to wait before service can look at it again (and then potentially longer until it can get to a service center - thanks, Michigan), I was hoping someone else may have some insight into what's happening. I did a lot of searching and couldn't find anyone else with this exact problem.
 

SilverSp33d3r

No Longer Silver
May 23, 2018
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LA
My Model S developed a musty/moldy odor, which the service center deemed as being due to dirty filters, after disassembling things and making sure there wasn't anything dead and decaying stuck in the car. They replaced the HEPA/cabin filters and the musty/moldy smell mostly went away, but still exists and is most noticeable if the car has been sitting off for a few hours. While most noticeable inside, trace amounts can be smelled outside of the vehicle in the garage when you are near it.

If the HVAC is run, it seems to help dissipate the smell and make it less noticeable, so it doesn't seem to be a result of running the system. I've tried switching back and forth between heat, A/C, and bio-defense mode, but none of these actions reproduce the smell.

Are there any others in between the filters and vents that may be dirty and will need to be replaced?

As I have another month to wait before service can look at it again (and then potentially longer until it can get to a service center - thanks, Michigan), I was hoping someone else may have some insight into what's happening. I did a lot of searching and couldn't find anyone else with this exact problem.

I had a similar situation and it was caused by excessive water ingress through the pano roof and happened for a few days after any rain. Fixed leak and fixed musty smell.
 
I had a similar situation and it was caused by excessive water ingress through the pano roof and happened for a few days after any rain. Fixed leak and fixed musty smell.

Thanks for the reply. It's the middle of winter here in Michigan, and the car stays inside the garage, so I don't think this is the culprit. The smell is still noticeable when the ambient temp is below freezing.
 
Sounds like Tesla upgraded the Fart app :eek:
Are you sure there isn't a dead mouse in there somewhere? They sure like to live in and around cars.

I'm sure the service center will take it apart again to check, but it sure seems to be the same smell as the dirty filter (just a lot more mild now), which is why I think it is related to some sort of remnant.
 
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Reactions: Silicon Desert
I had a similar situation and it was caused by excessive water ingress through the pano roof and happened for a few days after any rain. Fixed leak and fixed musty smell.
I can almost promise you this is the culprit.
Water has gotten under the carpet and started to mold. You don't see evidence because it's not enough water to flood your carpet, but water usually flows in areas you don't see and in such small quantities that you don't notice.
If you have the ability, try lifting the carpet up in several places and feeling around to see if that under padding is wet. When you lift the carpet, smell under there too, does the mold smell worse?
Even if the under-padding is dry it can still be the source of your smell, this kind of mold starts in a wet environment but once it builds enough of a colony it will still give off odor causing spores after their environment is dry.
I recommend addressing this sooner than later because again, once mold has started throwing off spores inside your car they go everywhere, and once that happens it can be almost impossible to remove the odor entirely.
 
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Reactions: Silicon Desert
Update for anyone interested - mobile service came out and used some sort of scope to look inside, and found some mold growing in the heating element, which explained the trace amounts of mildewy odor I would sometimes smell. Headed to the service center where they will disassemble things and clean everything out.

I'm very glad it's not the carpet / due to a leak!
 

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