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UGH - The smell of it. [AC Smell]

Gasaraki

Active Member
Oct 21, 2019
2,189
1,514
Syracuse, NY
You need to clean the system, not just replace filters. Some people have sprayed some cleaner inside?

After you clean it, make sure you keep the system in auto mode.
 

RickV

Member
Jun 25, 2021
7
5
usa
Need clarification. "raised the temp and fan to max" as in the AC isnt blowing cold air, just a large amount of ambient air?

Or "turned on the AC" and running the AC fan on max with very cold air?
Turned on the air conditioner and then raised the temp setting to the highest setting and same with the fan while the air conditioner was on. But note my wife reported yesterday the smell had returned.
 
Mar 8, 2021
78
74
Las Cruces, NM
I still havent experienced this, I guess it may be living in the desert, the dry air means the AC dries out fast enough to not cause a problem.
Probably dry enough most of the time that very little moisture collects on the evaporator. I've always made it a point to turn off the A/C a mile or 2 before my destination and run the fan on high to dry off the evaporator, especially in more humid climates. I can't stand having that odor in the HVAC system and once the microorganisms set up shop in there it is very difficult to completely get rid of them.
 

Flybyglass

Member
Feb 2, 2020
125
91
New England
Filter and Kool it are good but also check the actual intake from the hood area. Sometimes leaves get down through the grill and rest against the intake screen. I added an intake cover screen using gutter mesh and weather stripping. I find it breaths better than the aftermarket plastic covers that drop in.


tempImageNvj1pF.png
 

toddkageals

Member
Dec 8, 2020
144
104
Vinton
So....I had two different BMWs that had terrible odors from the HVAC. I'd change filters and the smell would go away, but it would return randomly from time to time. This was probably due to my short commute which would not run HVAC long enough to dry everything out. What ended up FINALLY eliminating the odor completely was an ozone generator. You can rent them at most rental places. Just put it in the car, windows up, turn the fan on and leave the generator and the fan on for a few hours. Turn it off, air out the car. Voila....smell gone. I guess it kills anything organic. I don't know the chemistry, but it DOES work. If the smell returns, just do it all over again. Super easy in a Tesla since you can leave the fan running without running the engine.
 

Jejunjm

Member
Mar 26, 2021
224
121
Tucson az
So....I had two different BMWs that had terrible odors from the HVAC. I'd change filters and the smell would go away, but it would return randomly from time to time. This was probably due to my short commute which would not run HVAC long enough to dry everything out. What ended up FINALLY eliminating the odor completely was an ozone generator. You can rent them at most rental places. Just put it in the car, windows up, turn the fan on and leave the generator and the fan on for a few hours. Turn it off, air out the car. Voila....smell gone. I guess it kills anything organic. I don't know the chemistry, but it DOES work. If the smell returns, just do it all over again. Super easy in a Tesla since you can leave the fan running without running the engine.
The concern I have with an ozone generator (besides the fact it is hazardous to your lungs) is that it will, by it's nature, breakdown plastics and accelerate destruction of rubbers...
 

Zirak

Member
May 3, 2018
326
170
Canada
You need to clean the system, not just replace filters. Some people have sprayed some cleaner inside?

After you clean it, make sure you keep the system in auto mode.
I sprayed a generous amount of AC coil cleaner and after about 15-20 mins of letting it soak in and evaporate in the sun, I then sprayed some Mold Control so that hopefully there is no more build up of mold/mildew, also replaced the filters. It's been a week so far and so far no smell, of course I cracked the windows open and let it vent a bit to make sure there are no dangerous fumes (if any from the mold control spray?) and has been good so far. No odor, and it smells pretty neutral, maybe a hint of lemon from the coil cleaner foam, which disappeared after the first few days.
 

android04

Member
Apr 1, 2016
510
521
Southeast Nebraska
Filter and Kool it are good but also check the actual intake from the hood area. Sometimes leaves get down through the grill and rest against the intake screen. I added an intake cover screen using gutter mesh and weather stripping. I find it breaths better than the aftermarket plastic covers that drop in.


View attachment 679043
I plan on ordering fine stainless steel mesh from Amazon to do something similar. I think I want mesh with 1mm apertures, but they sell mesh with apertures 10 times smaller than that. And many sizes in between and beyond both of those.
 

RL-TheDude

Member
Nov 30, 2020
58
56
Washington DC
I have successfully avoided AC funk in my last several cars. The trick is to “purge” the condensation by manually turning the compressor off for a few minutes each time (or a good percentage of the time) when you’ve run the AC. I usually turn the fan higher as well.
 

Rothgarr

Member
Apr 15, 2019
883
721
United States
The concern I have with an ozone generator (besides the fact it is hazardous to your lungs) is that it will, by it's nature, breakdown plastics and accelerate destruction of rubbers...
Is it the sort of thing where people say "It will destroy your plastics and rubbers!" but in reality, that's only if you leave it running for 365 days straight?

Can leaving it in your car for just a few hours really do damage?
 

jsmay311

Active Member
Apr 22, 2016
1,215
1,803
Chicago suburbs
I suspect that some of these repeat odor issues are caused by organic debris being left behind in the filter housing compartment.

When I got “the smell”, after removing the filters I took the extra step of using an inspection camera to inspect this compartment for any organic debris, and I found small bits of leaves, stems, and needles still in there. So to prevent this debris from causing recurring odor issues, I MacGyver’d a solution to suck out the debris using a small (1/2”-3/4”) flexible plastic hose attached to a shop vac suction hose w/ duct tape to provide suction, and then taped that hose to the aforementioned inspection camera’s arm, which allowed me to see where I was guiding this hose inside the filter compartment and maneuver it to where the debris was so I could suck it all out. It was a huge PITA, but it got the job done. Only THEN did I use the Kool-It to clean/disinfect.

And then, so I wouldn’t have to break my back doing the same crap again 1-2 years later, I bought a cut-to-size, high-flow furnace filter and cut it to fit the intake opening in the frunk to prevent any more debris from getting in (and without restricting airflow, which some of the other intake filters will do). Here are a couple good options for this type of filter available at Walmart or Home Depot:


 

Aellinsar

Member
Aug 2, 2017
249
218
Ohio
Is it the sort of thing where people say "It will destroy your plastics and rubbers!" but in reality, that's only if you leave it running for 365 days straight?

Can leaving it in your car for just a few hours really do damage?

Unknown, which is why it may be a concern and may not. It seems reasonable to me that if the ozone concentration is high enough that it's killing the organic material in the A/C system that it might be high enough to harm all the organic material in the rest of the car (adhesives, synthetic leather, etc.). I have no idea what concentration/duration would cause damage to those (and I work for a company that supplies the materials for a lot of those components) because it's not a thing we test for.
 
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Jejunjm

Member
Mar 26, 2021
224
121
Tucson az
Is it the sort of thing where people say "It will destroy your plastics and rubbers!" but in reality, that's only if you leave it running for 365 days straight?

Can leaving it in your car for just a few hours really do damage?
Exactly as @Aellinsar said. These devices (ozone generators) are non calibrated devices and one has no idea how much they are pumping out. Huge number of different materials in the car, some might be fine some might not be. I live in Arizona and see plastics crumbling from uv rays so I'd prefer to decrease risk.
 

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