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Turn off recirculation, car sounds like a jet

MikeyC

Member
Aug 19, 2019
408
584
Florida
After hearing that overuse of recirculation can cause a stinky HVAC system, I turned recirc off in my Model 3 this week and left everything else on auto. What I've noticed is that as soon as I turn off recirc, the car (on the outside) sounds like a Harrier jet trying to do a vertical takeoff: incredibly loud fan sound. It's loud enough that you can hear it from inside the car too but it's loudest outside. This occurs even though the car is already cool and the HVAC fan (vent) speed inside the car is relatively low. If I enable recirc again (change the icon from gray to blue), the jet engine sound immediately goes away. Turn recirc back off and the loud fan sound comes back. Again, this is on the outside: what sounds like a super fast radiator cooling fan... it has nothing to do with the vent fan speed inside the car.

Why would doing something as simple as turning off recirc make the car sound like it's about to lift off the ground? That's rather drastic for just making a recirc on/off setting change!

Mike
 

jdcollins5

Member
Aug 14, 2018
784
566
Wilmington, NC
When you turn off Recirc you are letting hot, moist air into the car. The Climate Control system has to ramp wide open trying to suddenly cool down this hot air. Auto does a good job of controlling recirc. I just leave mine in Auto and adjust temp as needed and have not had a problem.

Personally, I do not think the stink is coming from recirc, but from shutting down the system with the inside coil still cold. As it cools down it condenses, leaving water and moisture sitting in the ducts and filters. I try to remember to turn off AC before I approach the house and just run manual air to let the coil cool down with air blowing across until the coil is dry. If you have noticed lately Tesla is trying to help with this by running the air for a while after you leave your car.

This is not just a Tesla problem. My previous Prius and other cars have the same problem.
 

MikeyC

Member
Aug 19, 2019
408
584
Florida
I started this thread because I got my car in March and by July it had already started smelling like vinegar when I first start the car, particularly on rainy or very humid days. I read about it and was surprised to find out others also picked vinegar as the smell. I've owned and been in a lot of cars in my 54 years and have never experienced one smelling like vinegar! This definitely seems like a design flaw.

After some research, I chose to try the easiest thing first: I ran the heater full blast for about 30 minutes with recirc off and while doing that, I occasionally sprayed some relatively short puffs of Lysol spray into the intake in the frunk. The smell is now completely gone after doing that (and it doesn't smell like Lysol) but I've been running it with recirc off most of the time since then because most of the threads (including replies from Tesla techs) said too much recirc causes it... and I don't want it to come back. Who wants a 5 month old car to smell like vinegar? ;)

Mike
 

tezlam3

Member
Jul 14, 2021
144
61
NYC
I started this thread because I got my car in March and by July it had already started smelling like vinegar when I first start the car, particularly on rainy or very humid days. I read about it and was surprised to find out others also picked vinegar as the smell. I've owned and been in a lot of cars in my 54 years and have never experienced one smelling like vinegar! This definitely seems like a design flaw.

After some research, I chose to try the easiest thing first: I ran the heater full blast for about 30 minutes with recirc off and while doing that, I occasionally sprayed some relatively short puffs of Lysol spray into the intake in the frunk. The smell is now completely gone after doing that (and it doesn't smell like Lysol) but I've been running it with recirc off most of the time since then because most of the threads (including replies from Tesla techs) said too much recirc causes it... and I don't want it to come back. Who wants a 5 month old car to smell like vinegar? ;)

Mike

interesting, ive read another thread that there is nothing that will stop it from coming back even if you turn the recirc off...
 

MikeyC

Member
Aug 19, 2019
408
584
Florida
Been grinding on work at home so didn't drive the car for a week. Drove it yesterday and after sitting that length of time, it smells like vinegar again. Very faint but it's there. I can easily order filters and the foam cleaner but to what end? A brand new car got the vinegar smell in just 4 months so won't it come back? I'm in FL so it's humid here in the summer months and the car sits for days without being driven: that's just my use case. Is that exacerbating the problem? Anything I can do about it? Pack the filter area with silica gel? ;)

Mike
 

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