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UGH - The smell of it. [AC Smell]

KenR

Member
Mar 31, 2016
113
76
Atlanta
I bought the screw off ebay. Now I can easily replace and spray the foam. And I had them put the screw in for me because it was in the Tesla shop and they were replacing the speaker connector they broke the last service so I said please do me a favor and put this in...and they did. So nice.

I found the persons ebay...they raise the price I think... Tesla Model 3/Y Cabin Air Filter Access Panel Screw Replacement | eBay
 
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evroro

Member
Feb 23, 2020
11
7
MD
I’m noticing the smell on my 1.5yo 2020 M3, and need to do the fix soon.

Might be a silly question, but how do I keep the fan/AC running for 15 minutes without staying in the car? It seems to turn off as soon as I close the door, even if I leave my phone in the car.
 

android04

Member
Apr 1, 2016
484
487
Southeast Nebraska
I’m noticing the smell on my 1.5yo 2020 M3, and need to do the fix soon.

Might be a silly question, but how do I keep the fan/AC running for 15 minutes without staying in the car? It seems to turn off as soon as I close the door, even if I leave my phone in the car.
Use the "Keep Climate On" function in the HVAC controls (on the top right of the screen), which is right beside Dog Mode and Camping Mode.
 
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boriszima

Member
Jul 12, 2018
679
335
Los Angeles
I scheduled appointment with Tesla mobile to come out to do this. I bought filters a while ago, but could never get a hand on the cleaners to do the job right, cant stand the smell. Not happy about $145, but worth it to enjoy driving my car. Next time if smell comes back, will have tools ready. my drivers are fairly short here in Socal, maybe 15 miles one way or so. does sound like a design flaw as couple of previous cars i had, never had issue with the smell.

Tesla came out and replaced filters and did kool it. Tech said, now Tesla changes what filters they use as previous ones often had a smell. Hopefully this will last a while.
 
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fortunex

Member
Mar 19, 2021
75
25
Arizona
Anyone with the new filters care to examine them for the difference? I know it's a headache to get in there again.... but it's for science!
 

P3dStealth

Active Member
Nov 12, 2019
1,018
1,220
USA
I have the smell in my car as well. Pulled my filters out and they don't smell. Looked at the condenser and it looks clean and dry. What I did find is nasty water in the duct. I ordered new filters on Amazon anyway but I am pretty sure it's the duct.

I'm about to just use normal condenser cleaner from home Depot and spray it all over in there. Koolit is out of stock because Tesla prob buying a lot of them. Home Depot is cheaper anyway.

AC-Safe Air Conditioner Foaming Coil Cleaner
SKU# 206740351
 

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Reactions: jsmay311
May 8, 2021
23
26
Santa Monica
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.
Can you provide more info here? How do you manually turn the compressor off?
 

DaveRZ

Member
Nov 19, 2019
181
257
Murrieta, CA
I have the smell in my car as well. Pulled my filters out and they don't smell. Looked at the condenser and it looks clean and dry. What I did find is nasty water in the duct. I ordered new filters on Amazon anyway but I am pretty sure it's the duct.

I'm about to just use normal condenser cleaner from home Depot and spray it all over in there. Koolit is out of stock because Tesla prob buying a lot of them. Home Depot is cheaper anyway.

AC-Safe Air Conditioner Foaming Coil Cleaner
SKU# 206740351
Hey @P3dStealth , what duct is that? The intake in the frunk, or somewhere inside the cabin downstream of the condenser? I've got my moldy smell problem 90% solved, but still am getting 10 seconds or so of musty when the A/C is first turned on. I'm looking for a new spot that could benefit from a foam treatment.
 

jsmay311

Active Member
Apr 22, 2016
1,197
1,770
Chicago suburbs
I have the smell in my car as well. Pulled my filters out and they don't smell. Looked at the condenser and it looks clean and dry. What I did find is nasty water in the duct.

Where was that photo of the duct taken? Is it right above where the filters go?

Your observation about your filters not smelling is interesting. My filters also didn't smell when I first had odor problems pop up last summer, so I had figured that the bits of leaves and other organic debris that had gotten into the filter compartment were to blame for the odor. But I cleaned out all that debris and installed a filter on the outside air intake to keep additional debris from getting in, and despite that I'm having the smell return again.
 

KenR

Member
Mar 31, 2016
113
76
Atlanta
I had the service done twice...2nd time was free. And it is back again. GRRR and I did what I was told to do. I don't have debris... ah well... At least it lasts only a few seconds and only on days there is high humidity or a long rainstorm.
 
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P3dStealth

Active Member
Nov 12, 2019
1,018
1,220
USA
Where was that photo of the duct taken? Is it right above where the filters go?

Your observation about your filters not smelling is interesting. My filters also didn't smell when I first had odor problems pop up last summer, so I had figured that the bits of leaves and other organic debris that had gotten into the filter compartment were to blame for the odor. But I cleaned out all that debris and installed a filter on the outside air intake to keep additional debris from getting in, and despite that I'm having the smell return again.

That photo is above where the filter goes. I just stuck my phone in the filter slot. So if you look at that the water must be coming from the outside not the coil.
 
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Reactions: jsmay311
May 8, 2021
23
26
Santa Monica
it's very strange that the smell only lasts for a few seconds, maybe just from stagnant air in the duct?

It seems like if there is mold, then it would smell 100% of the time. Also doesn't feel great to have moldy air blown at your face all the time.
 

stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
10,993
6,107
it's very strange that the smell only lasts for a few seconds, maybe just from stagnant air in the duct?

It seems like if there is mold, then it would smell 100% of the time. Also doesn't feel great to have moldy air blown at your face all the time.
Usually it's just during startup. There are a few factors at play, one is the fact our noses/brains may automatically filter out smells (classifying them as background odors) after smelling it for a while, to prevent overwhelming the sense of smell.
Olfactory bulb - Wikipedia

The other factor is that the smell that mold/mildew releases in the air would only saturate the initial air in the vents and perhaps your cabin when system is off. After you turn on the AC, the outside air that gets drawn in would dilute that initial air drastically, so only a small portion of it remains. Plus the AC tends to dry the air out, which may reduce its smell. That's why the smell only lasts a few seconds. It may come back however during operation when the system is running on slower fan speeds and recirculating air.
 

Jejunjm

Member
Mar 26, 2021
201
113
Tucson az
Usually it's just during startup. There are a few factors at play, one is the fact our noses/brains may automatically filter out smells (classifying them as background odors) after smelling it for a while, to prevent overwhelming the sense of smell.
Olfactory bulb - Wikipedia

The other factor is that the smell that mold/mildew releases in the air would only saturate the initial air in the vents and perhaps your cabin when system is off. After you turn on the AC, the outside air that gets drawn in would dilute that initial air drastically, so only a small portion of it remains. Plus the AC tends to dry the air out, which may reduce its smell. That's why the smell only lasts a few seconds. It may come back however during operation when the system is running on slower fan speeds and recirculating air.
Big fan of the wiki link. Are you a doctor?
 

timk225

Active Member
Mar 24, 2016
2,050
2,305
Pittsburgh
My April '18 build 3 developed the musty AC smell and had it for a few months, I had the local Tesla SC clean it out last year. It's been good, but now in the humid summer weather it's coming back. Since the car is off warranty now, I'll look into doing it myself.
 
May 8, 2021
23
26
Santa Monica
Usually it's just during startup. There are a few factors at play, one is the fact our noses/brains may automatically filter out smells (classifying them as background odors) after smelling it for a while, to prevent overwhelming the sense of smell.
Olfactory bulb - Wikipedia

The other factor is that the smell that mold/mildew releases in the air would only saturate the initial air in the vents and perhaps your cabin when system is off. After you turn on the AC, the outside air that gets drawn in would dilute that initial air drastically, so only a small portion of it remains. Plus the AC tends to dry the air out, which may reduce its smell. That's why the smell only lasts a few seconds. It may come back however during operation when the system is running on slower fan speeds and recirculating air.
It seems like a good solution for tesla would be to blow the air out of the vents on start up - and then after a few seconds start sucking air back in. Seems like an easy fix if the stagnant air is just stuck in the vents.
 

stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
10,993
6,107
It seems like a good solution for tesla would be to blow the air out of the vents on start up - and then after a few seconds start sucking air back in. Seems like an easy fix if the stagnant air is just stuck in the vents.
That only helps the vent part. The cabin may still have that smell if the car was sitting long enough and replacing all that air may take a lot longer than seconds (similar to how long it takes to cool off a cabin after being parked in the sun a while). Plus the root issue (mold/mildew in the system) is still there.
 

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