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Smelly stinky socks / mold in Model 3 AC

I have to pay $150 every month to get rid of the smell. I thought maintenance costs were less with the EV. Not so.

If you are really paying $150/mo and not questioning it, I'd say that's on you. First of all, you could do it for less than $50 yourself. Second, if I needed to call mobile service and pay them $150 every month, I'd be on the phone with Tesla claiming a warranty repair. I believe Tesla has a parts warranty and if they come out and repair something and you pay for it, they have to cover their work for a certain period of time and I'm sure it's longer than 1 month!

As far as I know, that's true industry-wide. If you pay for your car manufacturer to do something like replace a broken glovebox release and that same part needs to be replaced a month later, their work failed and they should cover it. Repairs and even maintenance are expected to last longer than a month.

Mike
 
I have a 2018 Model 3 coming up on 4 years (October). I have never replaced either of my cabin filters, but the past couple of days they have developed that awful smell. I read a bunch of posts and watched a few videos and while the older Model 3s seem to have a difficult to access screw which has since been relocated, over all the replacement process did not seem so bad. I also noted several recommendations to spray AC coil cleaner and let it blow on high for about 15 minutes to clean out any mold.

I was all prepared to give it a go myself (I do not typically do any auto work etc) but when I checked the Tesla Canada web site for the OEM filters, a pair is about $44 and Tesla service was going to charge me CDN$73 to come to my house and do it in the driveway; I figured I would let them do it.

I have my service to swap the filters booked for Wed and in the chat, I mentioned there is also a bad smell; do they spray clean the AC unit. The response was that if there is a smell coming from the vents, there is an option to clean the vents with their evap cleaner in addition to replacing both filters for CDN$180.

I clarified that changing the cabin filters is about CDN$75, but cleaning the vents (which I would have thought it just spraying; do they take them apart?) is $180. Unless they are actively removing the AC unit / coils and cleaning them, that seems a little excessive. ?

(I am assuming that simply changing the filters is not going to be enough to remove the smell.)

Any thoughts? I also asked them about my 12v - I have not received any notice or warnings, but it is coming up on 4 years. Any thoughts on pro-actively changing it?

Thx in advance.
 

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
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Nov 28, 2018
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I have a 2018 Model 3 coming up on 4 years (October). I have never replaced either of my cabin filters, but the past couple of days they have developed that awful smell. I read a bunch of posts and watched a few videos and while the older Model 3s seem to have a difficult to access screw which has since been relocated, over all the replacement process did not seem so bad. I also noted several recommendations to spray AC coil cleaner and let it blow on high for about 15 minutes to clean out any mold.

I was all prepared to give it a go myself (I do not typically do any auto work etc) but when I checked the Tesla Canada web site for the OEM filters, a pair is about $44 and Tesla service was going to charge me CDN$73 to come to my house and do it in the driveway; I figured I would let them do it.

I have my service to swap the filters booked for Wed and in the chat, I mentioned there is also a bad smell; do they spray clean the AC unit. The response was that if there is a smell coming from the vents, there is an option to clean the vents with their evap cleaner in addition to replacing both filters for CDN$180.

I clarified that changing the cabin filters is about CDN$75, but cleaning the vents (which I would have thought it just spraying; do they take them apart?) is $180. Unless they are actively removing the AC unit / coils and cleaning them, that seems a little excessive. ?

(I am assuming that simply changing the filters is not going to be enough to remove the smell.)

Any thoughts? I also asked them about my 12v - I have not received any notice or warnings, but it is coming up on 4 years. Any thoughts on pro-actively changing it?

Thx in advance.

From what I can tell, its the <$100 price if you just want them to change the filters. Its the >$100 price if you also want them to spray the cleaning solution etc in there to clean the coils. they are not removing coils in either case.

There is also an extensive thread on what peoples opinions are about proactive replacement of 12v. perhaps it might help with that part of your question. Its here:

 
From what I can tell, its the <$100 price if you just want them to change the filters. Its the >$100 price if you also want them to spray the cleaning solution etc in there to clean the coils. they are not removing coils in either case.

There is also an extensive thread on what peoples opinions are about proactive replacement of 12v. perhaps it might help with that part of your question. Its here:

Y

From what I can tell, its the <$100 price if you just want them to change the filters. Its the >$100 price if you also want them to spray the cleaning solution etc in there to clean the coils. they are not removing coils in either case.

There is also an extensive thread on what peoples opinions are about proactive replacement of 12v. perhaps it might help with that part of your question. Its here:

Yes- in Canada, about $75 to just replace the filters and $180 to replace the filters and spray the cleaning solution. I can get my head around the $75 for the filter replacement, but the cost for the spray, that seems excessive.

Thx for pointing out the thread. Very helpful.
 
There are people however in the same climate and location where someone has the issue and then someone else does not. Your specific case seems to be the worst I have seen given you get mold within less than a month. Not a whole lot more to check (like perhaps drain tube clog).
My wife has a 2021 Model Y with this problem. I'm on my 2nd Model 3 and neither one has had the problem. I leave HVAC on auto with recirculate on. She usually has everything in manual but we've tried every combo imaginable and haven't been able to avoid the funk with her car.
 
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One thing I've always done with my ICE vehicles is the last few miles before a stop I turn off the AC and let the fan run with recirc off to hopefully dry things out. This seems to do a good job of removing any lingering moisture in the system. It's a little more tricky with the tesla climate control UI, but may be worth trying. I haven't had any of the bad smell issues yet over a year of running everything in full auto, so haven't had to try this.
 
Just to report back - I had booked a service appointment with mobile service. I am in Toronto (North York) and there was lots of available choices within a couple of days. Service guy came at the front end of the service window and could not have been more helpful and service oriented. In fact, it is the same service person who has come to my house for some other minor services I have had over the 4 years of owning the car (nothing substantive) and he also services my next door neighbour's Tesla so there was some nice continuity. Could not have been more friendly, helpful or responsive.
Of course, the filters were beyond filthy (after never having been changed over 4 years of ownership / my bad) and so far, no smell, so good.
All in all it was great mobile service experience.
 
Stinky A/C again and again. Seems like I have to change the filters and clean condenser every 5 months.
This is ridiculous. Get that mild moist dirty sock smell when you turn on the A/C initially. Like everyone
else it seems to go away after it runs a bit but why?

Filters are simply not even dirty after 5 months. This has to be some design flaw a=on why we have smelly A/C units.
I do live in a humid area but have never had this horrible smell on any other car other than Tesla Model 3.

Any other solutions to this?
Running A/C in record makes ZERO difference also.
 
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I try to blow outside air full blast once a week, no AC.
I do this every Friday on the way home from work for 10 min at a time. So far, I haven’t gotten that smell.

I read this from someone else on a different forum. Essentially it dries out the moisture in the whole air unit. If it’s cold out you can run it while at home, if driving you can put the temp up some.
Just try to do this regularly. Yes, it’s definitely a flawed system.
 
Yeah same. In my case the filters aren't the problem at all. The smell must be from deeper inside the condenser coils. A few months ago i used Klima cleaner and sprayed most of the can on the coils, then put the filter cover on with no filters, ran the fan on 2 for 20 seconds, in an attempt to push the cleaning foam deeper in, then sprayed the rest of the can in trying to get as much coverage as possible on the coils. Then i let it sit for 15 minutes before turning the fan on full blast

It eliminated the smells but I'm not hopeful it'll last more than a few months.

I'm thinking maybe next time when the smells come back, I'll give the no scent microban a try. I'll take the filters out, put the cover back on, then run the fan on low and spray microban in from the intake under the hood.
 
After you take out old filters, spray a whole can of Klima onto coils, put cover back on before putting new filters in and run fan only on 10 for 5 minutes. Make sure that all modes for vents are on, up arrow, face arrow and down arrow. Also turn on rear fan. Make sure air is coming out all outlets in cabin. Put in new hepa filters. Also get a Farmogo air inlet filter on Amazon. This has least air resistance and won’t limit air flow much at all. Car never smelled so fresh inside!
 
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