Welcome to Tesla Motors Club
Discuss Tesla's Model S, Model 3, Model X, Model Y, Cybertruck, Roadster and More.
Register

UGH - The smell of it. [AC Smell]

dduffey

Member
Aug 26, 2015
367
297
Austin, TX
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.

How would that be easy? Would have to replace the blower or add some complex air handler.
 

Big Earl

bnkwupt
Supporting Member
Jul 12, 2017
5,950
11,165
Springfield, VA
It’s algae growth.
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.

Stagnant air in the duct is not the cause of stinky air conditioning. The problem is microbial growth on the evaporator coil from the continuously wet and dark environment. As the growth accumulates over time, it begins releasing a sour odor when the temperature of the evaporator coil drops - basically every time you turn the air conditioning on. Very humid weather exacerbates the condition.

The remedy is periodically cleaning the evaporator with a product like Kool It. A permanent solution would be installing an evaporator with a permanent anti microbial coating applied to it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DaveRZ and dduffey

fuddy

Member
Oct 25, 2020
229
189
NJ
I'm doing this right now, currently running the ac for 20 mins to clear out the Klima cleaner, we'll see how long it lasts. One good bit of news is tesla moved the location of the screw to the bottom of the access panel in the 2021's.
 

android04

Member
Apr 1, 2016
481
486
Southeast Nebraska
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!
Most likely there will be no visible difference besides the different part number. If you look at the part number for the filters on epc.tesla.com, they are at revision -C on them. When I last bought filters 2 years ago they were at revision -A. I think -C is a recent change they made within the last month or two, and hopefully it helps people with the odor issues.
 

EVon3

Member
Dec 16, 2020
10
7
Canada
I have a M3 2021. Got it end of December and this past week, I already got this AC smell! Our other MY 2021 is only 5 months old and also got this smell! With so many people having this issue, it seems more like a defect... Drove an ICE car for 6 years and didn't even face this issue?

Anyone got this under warranty if it happened within the first year? I understand this summer is super humid but didn't expect to change a filter within the first year neither. Your thoughts?
 
  • Like
Reactions: dduffey

Jejunjm

Member
Mar 26, 2021
198
111
Tucson az
I have a M3 2021. Got it end of December and this past week, I already got this AC smell! Our other MY 2021 is only 5 months old and also got this smell! With so many people having this issue, it seems more like a defect... Drove an ICE car for 6 years and didn't even face this issue?

Anyone got this under warranty if it happened within the first year? I understand this summer is super humid but didn't expect to change a filter within the first year neither. Your thoughts?
I got the smell in 3 months in dry Arizona (it's humid now. They covered it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Alfred_Lanning

Flybyglass

Member
Feb 2, 2020
117
87
New England
Don't know if this will work ling term but I checked the intake for any degree down at the bottom. Tech had said leaves can get down there and decay. Note noted, next I used 2 cans of Kool-it plus new heap filters from EVTuning. Will see if lasts but nothing has returned yet.
 

P3dStealth

Active Member
Nov 12, 2019
1,017
1,218
USA
There is water getting in from the intake and being blown right into the paper air filters. I just took a good look at the whole setup from the inside with a GoPro on a stick. There is a big cylindrical fan pretty much right after the intake and no real baffle to divert water.

There is brown water all on the fan and intake. I was wrong before when I said it wasn't my filters. It is. I cut them apart and they stink now.

Also I found out that when on high fan AC low my HVAC module leaks water into the car through a seam.
 

Attachments

  • PXL_20210822_085150126~2.jpg
    PXL_20210822_085150126~2.jpg
    730.9 KB · Views: 53

P3dStealth

Active Member
Nov 12, 2019
1,017
1,218
USA
Ok so I used this cleaner from homedepot and it seems to work pretty good. There is no smell in my car. Its also a lot of spray so I think I have a little less than half still left. It foams a lot. There is no tube but I used a standard spray can straw to spray it in. If you read the reviews there are a few others that used it for cars. I can confirm it doesn't stain the carpet or plastic of your car either.


I used these filters. They are a really good copy of the OEM. They are the exact size and same number of pleates. They also have real carbon rocks sandwiched between just like OEM. As far as I can tell the only difference is the pull tab doesn't have that plastic glue on it and the carbon rocks inside are bigger bits.


I cut open the old filter and even though it seemed like the outside was dry and didn't smell the inside carbon rocks were wet and smelled. The carbon is fine like coarse sand almost. Mostly the bottom filter was wet inside not the top. New filter on top in pictures to compare.
 

Attachments

  • PXL_20210822_174219281.jpg
    PXL_20210822_174219281.jpg
    542.1 KB · Views: 44
  • PXL_20210822_174206020.jpg
    PXL_20210822_174206020.jpg
    633.8 KB · Views: 48
Last edited:

P3dStealth

Active Member
Nov 12, 2019
1,017
1,218
USA
This is the fan viewed from the filter location.
You can see how it throws water at the filter. There's no way to fix this.
 

Attachments

  • PXL_20210822_075047229_exported_25388.jpg
    PXL_20210822_075047229_exported_25388.jpg
    161.2 KB · Views: 48
  • PXL_20210822_075047229_exported_15481.jpg
    PXL_20210822_075047229_exported_15481.jpg
    132.6 KB · Views: 49
  • PXL_20210819_141504291.jpg
    PXL_20210819_141504291.jpg
    263.4 KB · Views: 50
  • Like
  • Informative
Reactions: f308gt4 and dduffey

f308gt4

Member
May 21, 2020
193
171
SoCal
No software will fix this :/

What do you and others think about the idea of not installing a cabin filter, but instead only using a filter at the air inlet? I’m talking about a filter similar to this one:


I wonder if that would possibly help?
 

Big Earl

bnkwupt
Supporting Member
Jul 12, 2017
5,950
11,165
Springfield, VA
What do you and others think about the idea of not installing a cabin filter, but instead only using a filter at the air inlet? I’m talking about a filter similar to this one:


I wonder if that would possibly help?

In addition to not having very much surface area for filtration, what’s going to stop something like this from getting wet?
 
  • Like
Reactions: P3dStealth

SabrToothSqrl

Active Member
Dec 5, 2014
3,814
3,226
PA
All I know is my wife was charged over $100 for this defect. That and I drove my 1995 Chevy Tahoe over 200,000 miles without smelly AC and my 2009 Tahoe for over 150,000 miles without smelly AC and our Mazda Tribute over 100k without smelly AC.
 

P3dStealth

Active Member
Nov 12, 2019
1,017
1,218
USA
No software will fix this :/

They can make it so when your wipers are on (it's raining) the car defaults to recirculation. It would at least help slow it down. But yea it's inevitable that the filter will get wet with dirty water and eventually smell.

They made the air intake too simple.
 

f308gt4

Member
May 21, 2020
193
171
SoCal
In addition to not having very much surface area for filtration, what’s going to stop something like this from getting wet?

I don’t know how much of an impact the surface area will have. Does it make a real world difference? After all, aren’t cabin filters a relatively new thing? I wonder what would happen if you ran no filter at all?

However, these intake filters would be relatively easy to replace. If you have to, replace every 3 months. At $20 bucks a pop, isn’t really a big deal (and I’m sure you can find them cheaper if you search around).
 

Candleflame

Active Member
Mar 9, 2015
3,314
1,787
QLD, Australia
I had the issue of musty smell after 1 year for the first 5 to 10s of the ac being on. Went away after a filter change and the old filters were quite dirty. Id say the minimim changing interval is yearly.
 

Big Earl

bnkwupt
Supporting Member
Jul 12, 2017
5,950
11,165
Springfield, VA
I don’t know how much of an impact the surface area will have. Does it make a real world difference? After all, aren’t cabin filters a relatively new thing? I wonder what would happen if you ran no filter at all?

However, these intake filters would be relatively easy to replace. If you have to, replace every 3 months. At $20 bucks a pop, isn’t really a big deal (and I’m sure you can find them cheaper if you search around).

At $35, annual factory cabin filter replacements seems like a better deal.

As for the impact of less filter surface area, it will either create more of a restriction and thus poor performance, or it will not filter as well.
 

dduffey

Member
Aug 26, 2015
367
297
Austin, TX
Cabin filters are not a new thing, they have been a thing as long as AC has been a thing.

You absolutely want one as it protects the coils. Without one any dust in the cabin will go through the coils on recirc. It would be like removing your house AC filters.

It would be a tremendously expensive mistake.
 

Products we're discussing on TMC...

About Us

Formed in 2006, Tesla Motors Club (TMC) was the first independent online Tesla community. Today it remains the largest and most dynamic community of Tesla enthusiasts. Learn more.

Do you value your experience at TMC? Consider becoming a Supporting Member of Tesla Motors Club. As a thank you for your contribution, you'll get nearly no ads in the Community and Groups sections. Additional perks are available depending on the level of contribution. Please visit the Account Upgrades page for more details.


SUPPORT TMC
Top