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Replacing cabin air filters without using Evaporator coil cleaner spray

arghx7

Member
Aug 6, 2019
510
513
Michigan
2019 Model 3 LR AWD with about 16k miles, received in May 2019.

I'm getting the A/C stink. I looked on Tesla's website and the OEM filters are sold out. I go on Amazon and buy the EP Auto CP681 filters. It seems like the Evaporator coil spray that some Youtube videos are recommending is sold out on Amazon and I can't find anything at local auto parts stores. I'm going on a long road trip next week and can't wait.

If I just change my filters do you think the smell will go away? Maybe wipe down the inside of the filter housing with some paper towels?
 

M3DS

Member
Oct 8, 2019
23
9
Massachusets
You can use other products beside the one in the youtube video I ordered nextzett and am about to try it... If you just change the filters the smell will likely not go away since it is supposedly mold on the evap coil
 
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N54TT

Member
Aug 14, 2018
960
738
NY
I used the kilma cleaner, which some say is better than kool-it. You will most likely still have the smell if you just change the filters.
 

Rothgarr

Member
Apr 15, 2019
858
699
United States
I just did it this weekend and what a difference!

I used these filters ($9 for two!!! and looks exactly like the Tesla filters, but without the Tesla logo) Amazon.com: EPAuto CP681 (1107681-00-A) Cabin Air Filter includes Activated Carbon Replacement for Tesla Model 3 / Model Y: Automotive

And I used this cleaner I used (foams up really well, end of hose shoots in three directions): Amazon.com: nextzett 96110515 Klima-Cleaner Air Conditioner Cleaner - 10 fl oz: Automotive

In my case, I *think* the smell was from the old Tesla filters. Smelled like paint or glue on the yellow side of the filter. The new filters did not smell like that. So it's possible that just changing the filters might have done the trick.

But I wont lie, it's a pain to get in there -- if you are going to change the filters, might as well do the cleaner as well so you don't have to go through it all again in case the smell doesn't go away from just changing the filters.

Your car WILL smell like the cleaner for a day or two, but that goes away.
 

Flybyglass

Member
Feb 2, 2020
86
71
New England
Also check the intake. remove the cover and look down to the intake screen to make sure debris is not laying against it. Here is another spray option. It's not a foam but a cleaner like Lysol of Ozium. Amazon.com: BG Frigi-Fresh 5.5 oz. (156g): Health & Personal Care

Also I use these filters once a year no issues in combination of a big blast of Ozium down the intake while running fan on high no recirculation for a few minutes. Seems to keep issue away:

 

Rothgarr

Member
Apr 15, 2019
858
699
United States
Also check the intake. remove the cover and look down to the intake screen to make sure debris is not laying against it. Here is another spray option. It's not a foam but a cleaner like Lysol of Ozium. Amazon.com: BG Frigi-Fresh 5.5 oz. (156g): Health & Personal Care

Also I use these filters once a year no issues in combination of a big blast of Ozium down the intake while running fan on high no recirculation for a few minutes. Seems to keep issue away:

Yikes, you're spending $100 ($200?) each year on filters?
 
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dduffey

Member
Aug 26, 2015
243
140
Austin, TX
When we picked up our 2021 Y in Texas it already had "the stinky vinegar feet smell" when the AC came on. I have a 2018 3 so was familiar with the issue and have done the cleaning before.

I ordered filters from the SC during an appointment and didn't opt to pay for the cleaning. To my disappointment they installed the filters and didn't give me the chance to clean the coils first. Can't be too mad, they didn't charge me for the labor.

That said, the smell went away.

I would still not recommend just replacing the filters but my experience with just doing the filters on the 2021 was better than the 2018 (which still smells every summer but better than before the software update) for some reason and next time may just use Lysol rather than a specialty foaming cleaner.
 
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roblab

Active Member
Jul 15, 2008
3,638
2,702
Angwin (Napa Valley) CA
Must be the humidity in the south central USA, because my cars have never had the filters replaced, the last three going over 100,000 miles with no smells from the vents. And I've never seen a filter clogged with anything, either, even on my air conditioners at home. I've lived in Missouri and Texas for a few years, and the humidity in the summer is almost unbearable compared with CA.
 
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arghx7

Member
Aug 6, 2019
510
513
Michigan
I live in Michigan. I usually keep the A/C on auto, set anywhere between 67 and 71 degrees F.

I ordered the Nextsett stuff, hopefully be here on Sunday. I hope I can find time to get this done before I leave Thursday. I am reading different comments about how hard and time consuming it is to do the job. I have a plastic panel fastener popper tool, a T20 torx bit that can go on my 1/4 inch drive ratchet, and I figure it can't be too hard of a job. I've worked under dashboards before replacing blower motors and stuff.

Thanks everyone.
 
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BeeGood

Member
Jan 27, 2020
199
149
Georgia
I live in Michigan. I usually keep the A/C on auto, set anywhere between 67 and 71 degrees F.

I ordered the Nextsett stuff, hopefully be here on Sunday. I hope I can find time to get this done before I leave Thursday. I am reading different comments about how hard and time consuming it is to do the job. I have a plastic panel fastener popper tool, a T20 torx bit that can go on my 1/4 inch drive ratchet, and I figure it can't be too hard of a job. I've worked under dashboards before replacing blower motors and stuff.

Thanks everyone.

You’ll be good with the Klima cleaner that you bought. Works the same way as Kool It.

If you absolutely can’t get it done before then, at a minimum take the old filter out, make sure there isn’t debris in the air intake under the frunk and spray Lysol into it with the fan running on a low-medium speed.

After that, let the fan run for half an hour, then park it in direct sunlight with Cabin Overheat Protection set to “fan only” so the fan will just continuously run for the rest of the day just to make sure it’s completely dry and to flush the Lysol smell out. Then put the new filter in.

It’s not as good as cleaning the evaporator coil, but it should help keep the smell at bay for a while until you can get to it.
 
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jrmt23

he/him/his
Jan 29, 2021
233
242
Houston, TX
You’ll be good with the Klima cleaner that you bought. Works the same way as Kool It.

If you absolutely can’t get it done before then, at a minimum take the old filter out, make sure there isn’t debris in the air intake under the frunk and spray Lysol into it with the fan running on a low-medium speed.

After that, let the fan run for half an hour, then park it in direct sunlight with Cabin Overheat Protection set to “fan only” so the fan will just continuously run for the rest of the day just to make sure it’s completely dry and to flush the Lysol smell out. Then put the new filter in.

It’s not as good as cleaning the evaporator coil, but it should help keep the smell at bay for a while until you can get to it.
I used to use the Lysol trick on my old tacoma back in the day too. Put my A/C on full blast, and sprayed lysol into the air intake. It actually worked pretty well and got rid of the stink.

I just had to leave the windows vented for the afternoon to get the concentrated lysol smell out.
 
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Darmie

Super Member
Supporting Member
Jan 13, 2016
2,001
1,286
Clear Lake TX.
I just did it this weekend and what a difference!

I used these filters ($9 for two!!! and looks exactly like the Tesla filters, but without the Tesla logo) Amazon.com: EPAuto CP681 (1107681-00-A) Cabin Air Filter includes Activated Carbon Replacement for Tesla Model 3 / Model Y: Automotive

And I used this cleaner I used (foams up really well, end of hose shoots in three directions): Amazon.com: nextzett 96110515 Klima-Cleaner Air Conditioner Cleaner - 10 fl oz: Automotive

In my case, I *think* the smell was from the old Tesla filters. Smelled like paint or glue on the yellow side of the filter. The new filters did not smell like that. So it's possible that just changing the filters might have done the trick.

But I wont lie, it's a pain to get in there -- if you are going to change the filters, might as well do the cleaner as well so you don't have to go through it all again in case the smell doesn't go away from just changing the filters.

Your car WILL smell like the cleaner for a day or two, but that goes away.
That is by far the cheapest I've seen. Thanks for the link on the filters. BTW, the nextzett link shows not available.
 

crackers8199

Active Member
May 31, 2015
1,285
599
lake elsinore, ca
Must be the humidity in the south central USA, because my cars have never had the filters replaced, the last three going over 100,000 miles with no smells from the vents. And I've never seen a filter clogged with anything, either, even on my air conditioners at home. I've lived in Missouri and Texas for a few years, and the humidity in the summer is almost unbearable compared with CA.

i live in so cal with very little humidity and the smell comes back after about 6-12 months every time i do it, so it's definitely not an issue with humidity. the car just sucks (at least earlier models) at keeping the coils dry before turning off the AC.
 
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boriszima

Member
Jul 12, 2018
670
321
Los Angeles
That is by far the cheapest I've seen. Thanks for the link on the filters. BTW, the nextzett link shows not available.
Yep, was looking and not happening. Got filters but will wait until product comes back online, dont feel like paying extra for this who just raised their price couple days ago according to Keepa plugin

Reading here, if one is doing filters, do a cleaner.
 

TLLMRRJ

Active Member
Dec 19, 2019
2,011
1,996
Houston
I changed the filters on my AC this week. It's ultra humid in Houston, so the amount of condensation that comes out of the air is incredible here. It's so bad that if the AC in your house has its condensation drain clog, it could literally flood your house and do a lot of damage.

Anyway, I think I know why our cars are so susceptible to the odor in the AC. I noticed the filters are sitting right on the surface of the evaporator coil, so my lower filter was damp when I removed it. I don't think every car has the filter right on the coils like that to get wet every time the AC is on, so that may be why other cars don't have the issue in the same conditions.

Not much we can do but change the filters more frequently. I don't think Tesla''s software update to run the fan to dry the coils is enough to dry out a soaked paper filter. So the mold will win in humid climates.

I bought the magnetic door from Abstract Ocean, but it's a dud. The magnet doesn't hold strongly enough to overcome the force of the air trying to blow out the door with the AC on 10, and that door also has wires clipped to it that can tug on the magnet. That's going in the garbage.

Although.....The more I think about it, maybe the better solution is to permanently remove the air filters at the coils, and switch to the filters that are mounted at the intake in the frunk. It wouldn't give you the same level of filtration, but it wasn't that long ago that cars had no filters, and I think I would rather breathe a little extra dust than the mold being grown on air filters.
 

crackers8199

Active Member
May 31, 2015
1,285
599
lake elsinore, ca
Not much we can do but change the filters more frequently. I don't think Tesla''s software update to run the fan to dry the coils is enough to dry out a soaked paper filter. So the mold will win in humid climates.

again, it's not just humid climates. i live in the IE in so cal (very, very little humidity here ever) and the smell always comes back within 6-12 months of me cleaning it and changing the filters.
 
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