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UGH - The smell of it. [AC Smell]

Flybyglass

Member
Feb 2, 2020
120
87
New England
I seem to recall about a year ago that a software update was supposed to run the Air Conditioning (or at least the fan) for a few minutes after parking to dry out the system to prevent the infamous AC stink that everyone talks about. I don't notice the system running after parking. Was that feature removed or is there a setting I overlooking. I used Kool-it and new filters but still have the odor especially if running the heater for the first time after a while. Also is there a cleaner that would work better than Kool-it? Thanks all.
 
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NGM3

New Member
May 8, 2018
1
1
Lake Forest, CA
2018 Model 3 RWD owner here. I've had this smell in the past. After the first summer of owning the car, I got the HVAC odors being described here. I did the DIY evaporator cleaner and new OEM filters from my local service center. Smell eventually came back.

This past spring, I did the DIY evaporator cleaner but used a replacement activated cabin filter that I got on Amazon. I used the A/C all spring/summer and the smell has not come back. When using the evaporator cleaner (I used two containers of the 96030 Kool-It), I tried to get as far up the evaporator as I could with the supplied nozzle so that the cleaning foam would slide down as much of the evaporator to clean it. After each canister of cleaner, I would re-install the plastic filter cover over the opening (I didn't need to screw it back in, just press fit) and run the fan for 10 min and made sure the cleaner made it's way out of the car by ensuring the fluid ended up on my garage floor.

Amazon.com: TAPTES Filter for Tesla Model Y Model 3 Replacement Cabin Air Filter 2Pack,Fit for Model Y 2020 2021,for Model 3 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 : Automotive

These filters seemed loose when I put them in, but it works well to get rid of the odors. One thing I did notice is that the air coming through the vent comes through at a slightly lower speed (think of selecting a fan speed of 6, but actually getting a fan speed of 4 or 5). But I've gotten used to it the air speed and would take this any day over dealing with the HVAC odors. I haven't had to leave the fan running for an extra amount of time or had to shut off the A/C to let the fan run to dry out the evaporator after I drive the car. Now I just leave the A/C setting on to something comfortable (73 degrees for me) and leave it.
 
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stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
10,993
6,107
I seem to recall about a year ago that a software update was supposed to run the Air Conditioning (or at least the fan) for a few minutes after parking to dry out the system to prevent the infamous AC stink that everyone talks about. I don't notice the system running after parking. Was that feature removed or is there a setting I overlooking. I used Kool-it and new filters but still have the odor especially if running the heater for the first time after a while. Also is there a cleaner that would work better than Kool-it? Thanks all.
It is delayed (likely on purpose, there was one post somewhere where someone that worked on similar systems in other cars says there was a delay added to avoid annoying the driver). It doesn't run immediately after, but actually a few minutes later after parked.
 
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Gasman23

Member
Sep 20, 2020
101
107
Wales
Simple solution….never use recirculation mode!

After a few months into ownership I noticed a musky smell coming through. I’d accidentally hit the recirc mode a couple of days earlier. Turned it off and never had a problem since

I’ve never used recirc in any of my cars and never had a problem with smelly ac
 

Aellinsar

Member
Aug 2, 2017
247
217
Ohio
2018 Model 3 RWD owner here. I've had this smell in the past. After the first summer of owning the car, I got the HVAC odors being described here. I did the DIY evaporator cleaner and new OEM filters from my local service center. Smell eventually came back.

This past spring, I did the DIY evaporator cleaner but used a replacement activated cabin filter that I got on Amazon. I used the A/C all spring/summer and the smell has not come back. When using the evaporator cleaner (I used two containers of the 96030 Kool-It), I tried to get as far up the evaporator as I could with the supplied nozzle so that the cleaning foam would slide down as much of the evaporator to clean it. After each canister of cleaner, I would re-install the plastic filter cover over the opening (I didn't need to screw it back in, just press fit) and run the fan for 10 min and made sure the cleaner made it's way out of the car by ensuring the fluid ended up on my garage floor.

Amazon.com: TAPTES Filter for Tesla Model Y Model 3 Replacement Cabin Air Filter 2Pack,Fit for Model Y 2020 2021,for Model 3 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 : Automotive

These filters seemed loose when I put them in, but it works well to get rid of the odors. One thing I did notice is that the air coming through the vent comes through at a slightly lower speed (think of selecting a fan speed of 6, but actually getting a fan speed of 4 or 5). But I've gotten used to it the air speed and would take this any day over dealing with the HVAC odors. I haven't had to leave the fan running for an extra amount of time or had to shut off the A/C to let the fan run to dry out the evaporator after I drive the car. Now I just leave the A/C setting on to something comfortable (73 degrees for me) and leave it.

I bought those filters... and just replaced them this weekend. They were nice, but still got the smell eventually. Activated carbon only adsorbs so much material (~25% or it's weight for many organic compounds) until it no longer works.
 
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Aellinsar

Member
Aug 2, 2017
247
217
Ohio
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?

I installed that filter last summer. I cleaned it this weekend when I did the spray/cleaning of the coil. It was covered with junk (far more than the air filter ever had been) so installing seems like it was a good idea. But installing it did not help with the smell since that is still related to water further inside the system. I did not try installing this filter without the regular cabin filter.

As others have said, the cost of cleaning isn't a big deal (after buying expensive $42 filters last year, I went back to $11 filters this year). It's the PITA of having to take things apart and get in there. I've done this 4 times now and the panel on the side of the center console doesn't fit quite as snugly as it originally did. The plastic snaps will wear with repeated removal and reinstallation.
 
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KenR

Member
Mar 31, 2016
113
76
Atlanta
Simple solution….never use recirculation mode!

After a few months into ownership I noticed a musky smell coming through. I’d accidentally hit the recirc mode a couple of days earlier. Turned it off and never had a problem since

I’ve never used recirc in any of my cars and never had a problem with smelly ac
Hi,
After paying them to fix all this ...I did exactly that and in less than a month it came back. They treated again...And yes I kept it off and after another month I can smell it ever so faintly again.. So for my car, this is not the solution to turn off recirc. I will keep it off and maybe after a year see what happens...and then go back to using it because my car is definitely cooler when I use recirc.... I do miss it...but I have not cheated and put it on since the intial payment to fix the smell back in May I think.
 
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jsmay311

Active Member
Apr 22, 2016
1,197
1,770
Chicago suburbs
It's the PITA of having to take things apart and get in there. I've done this 4 times now and the panel on the side of the center console doesn't fit quite as snugly as it originally did. The plastic snaps will wear with repeated removal and reinstallation.

That's my biggest gripe. For some reason I had a nightmare of a time getting the side panel on/off. I lost clips, a couple plastic tabs on the cover got severely bent and mangled, and one of the plastic slots on the car-side cracked off completely. All the tutorial videos I watched made it look easy, so idk why I had such a b*tch of a time with it. Now I'm afraid if I take the cover off again I won't be able to get it back on without replacing it completely. Or I'll be left with with a loose, rattling panel.
 
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JackLuminous

Member
Apr 29, 2021
97
52
Northern Virginia
Simple solution….never use recirculation mode!

After a few months into ownership I noticed a musky smell coming through. I’d accidentally hit the recirc mode a couple of days earlier. Turned it off and never had a problem since

I’ve never used recirc in any of my cars and never had a problem with smelly ac
So is it bad to have recirc turned on?
 

Thmsoto

New Member
Sep 18, 2021
1
3
New York
I had Tesla replace the filters and clean the evaporator coil 9 months after having the car for this awful smell (I waited at least two months because I didn't know it was a Tesla issue, I thought something had been spilled in the car or there was something I was carrying in the car that was responsible for it). Well 5 months later it's back and just as bad. I can't for the life of me understand why after building a car with such futuristic vibes you have to drive around in something that smells like dirty gym socks. I'm really embarrassed by it and wouldn't want to show the car off to anyone because it's gross. I've ordered some carbon HEPA filters and the kool it to do it myself. I'm not paying $300 every 6 months for maintenance of breathable air. I had heard that there was going to be an upgrade that was going to help run the fans longer to avoid this problem but it did not happen for my car. Really disappointed with this.
 

Flybyglass

Member
Feb 2, 2020
120
87
New England
High Humidity is the culprit. I replace the filters each 6-9 months. I use Klima cleaner as it's easier to get and is available on amazon. Kool-it seems to always be in short supply. The Klima gets a bit more out of each can than Kool-it. I use 2 cans of cleaner each service. I have been using EVtuning HEPA filters but want to try LUFTT LHC209 filters when available.
 

mact3333

Member
May 24, 2013
236
576
near Portland OR
Its is clear there is a inherent flaw in the design of the AC/heating system...my 2018 model had ammonia smell had them service it at my cost...my 2021 model 3 had same smell after 2K miles...at 5K miles I did same service but i told them this isn't wear and tear on a new car so they paid...fixed the smell issue for a week before smell came back..now i have 10K miles and smell is really bothersome and making me nauseated...smelling ammonia all the time cannot be good for your health!...I am getting same service done later this week...Tesla really needs to solve this issue and do a recall to fix it...I would literally lemon my car cause I am not convinced they will ever fix this recurring issue but i heard Tesla will blacklist you from buying a tesla ever again if you lemon their car...hence I am stuck...and i paid for FSD so no way i will sell this car anytime soon.

I am really curious, what % of model 3 owners have this smell issue...i gotta think most do since both my model 3 's have had this same issue.
 
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Jejunjm

Member
Mar 26, 2021
201
113
Tucson az
Its is clear there is a inherent flaw in the design of the AC/heating system...my 2018 model had ammonia smell had them service it at my cost...my 2021 model 3 had same smell after 2K miles...at 5K miles I did same service but i told them this isn't wear and tear on a new car so they paid...fixed the smell issue for a week before smell came back..now i have 10K miles and smell is really bothersome and making me nauseated...smelling ammonia all the time cannot be good for your health!...I am getting same service done later this week...Tesla really needs to solve this issue and do a recall to fix it...I would literally lemon my car cause I am not convinced they will ever fix this recurring issue but i heard Tesla will blacklist you from buying a tesla ever again if you lemon their car...hence I am stuck...and i paid for FSD so no way i will sell this car anytime soon.

I am really curious, what % of model 3 owners have this smell issue...i gotta think most do since both my model 3 's have had this same issue.
Similar problems. 2k miles and 5k miles. I'm going to replace oil changes w interior air filter changes :(
 
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KenR

Member
Mar 31, 2016
113
76
Atlanta
Its is clear there is a inherent flaw in the design of the AC/heating system...my 2018 model had ammonia smell had them service it at my cost...my 2021 model 3 had same smell after 2K miles...at 5K miles I did same service but i told them this isn't wear and tear on a new car so they paid...fixed the smell issue for a week before smell came back..now i have 10K miles and smell is really bothersome and making me nauseated...smelling ammonia all the time cannot be good for your health!...I am getting same service done later this week...Tesla really needs to solve this issue and do a recall to fix it...I would literally lemon my car cause I am not convinced they will ever fix this recurring issue but i heard Tesla will blacklist you from buying a tesla ever again if you lemon their car...hence I am stuck...and i paid for FSD so no way i will sell this car anytime soon.

I am really curious, what % of model 3 owners have this smell issue...i gotta think most do since both my model 3 's have had this same issue.
Hi
I have it too but lately the cleanout and the not using recirc has been working. with that said...
Why not investigate buying a cheap ozone maker. Do the research on how long... obviously it's unsafe at high levels but evidently a few minutes may knock out your problem without endangering your health. Maybe put on a timer and run at night so that in the AM the smell has dissipated. Some say it degrades the interior materials also if my memory serves me correctly. BUT once again I think that is only from over use or misuse of the product.

It may just be the right solution for you if you do it correctly.

Hope that helps.
 

Yaely

Member
Mar 20, 2021
46
3
Canada
There is a bad smell coming out of the AC which I know it’s the cabin filter however I only have the car for 6 months. Is it a standard practice to replace the filter every 6 months?? In all my previous cars I never had to do it but after about 2 years.
I also thought it would be replaced under warranty however they want to charge me $150.
Thanks
 

Big Earl

bnkwupt
Supporting Member
Jul 12, 2017
5,962
11,296
Springfield, VA
Save $115 and do it yourself. Here’s a handy guide:

 

gmoe

New Member
Sep 23, 2021
1
1
Canton GA
Hi all,
First day stander in line... Have my Model 3 since April of 2018 and gave in and let Tesla Mobile service my filters and awful sneaker smell on June 4th. Well 2 weeks later and the smell was back. I made another appointment using the APP and was pretty clear about the situation. They of course came back with the same estimate of $137 for filters and the Kool It. I messaged back..wait isn't there some kind of warranty on this? You can't expect someone to pay every 2-3 weeks for this. Obviously the stories about how to keep the air on or how to dry it out or how the software was updated to combat this are just not true...at least for me.

I remember way back that someone got an additional part replaced under warranty that helped alleviate the amount of moisture collection in the system. A google search has failed me so I thought I would post here.
Otherwise I have been messaging them that I don't think I should pay again.... and would cancel before shelling out this kind of money on a regular basis. I just had double knee replacement so doing it myself is not the option lately.

Any one else experience the quick return of the smell and did Tesla do a redo ? If so was there a charge? Thanks in advance.
I have a 2020 Model Y and have my AC serviced two times for the smell. Every time it rains my car smells. So far they have fixed it for free. I can't believe I paid 65K+ for my car and it smells all the time...Something should be done at Tesla to correct this issue
 
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