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Vinegar A/C After 1000 miles

Kerry Blue

Member
Dec 2, 2020
43
53
Colorado
My A/C has a terrible vinegar smell for the first 10 minutes on a hot day. I know already discussed but here is my issue, I live in Colorado which is high desert dry so mold is never an issue, car is always garaged so doesn’t sit in the rain if it ever rained. Tesla want $125 to fix it, car was bought new and as stated started to smell really bad at 1000 miles, does this mean if I do 10,000 miles a year I’m going to have $1,250 in A/C costs. This is my 70th car and never had a similar issue. Any thoughts?
 

oreobbq

Member
Jan 8, 2021
259
330
Houston
Easy enough fix if you're willing to replace the filters and clean the coils with a foaming cleaner. And make sure your air isn't always on recirculate.
 
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Candleflame

Active Member
Mar 9, 2015
3,329
1,800
QLD, Australia
Easy enough fix if you're willing to replace the filters and clean the coils with a foaming cleaner. And make sure your air isn't always on recirculate.

probably just unlucky contamination of the AC system. change the filters. and maybe clean the AC system out with foaming cleaner.

There isnt really much reason behind all of this.
I live in the humid tropics and my AC is always on recirc. I dont have a problem with stinky AC and had my car for 2 years.
I got a bit of mouldy smell for the first 5 seconds of using the AC a few months ago and just changed the filters which stopped it - the filters did look like they needed changing so imho the 2 year interval is too generous from tesla and the filters should be changed every 1 year. its a 10min job on a LHD and a 15-20min job on a RHD model.
 

Wvapoker

Member
Oct 21, 2019
73
91
Charleston, WV
I changed my filters this weekend on my model 3 with 30k miles on it. I used a FrostKing product to clean the coils and not the koolit product. It didn’t smell after. We will see how long it takes to return. Changing that filter is kind of painful. It took me less than a minute to change the filter in my Honda car-v. This one took more than 30 minutes plus your almost guaranteed to break a panel clip if you rush the job.
 

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
10,896
12,619
Riverside Co. CA
A/C always on auto, never use recirculate. Here, humidity never really gets above 40% and in summer averages 30-35

Then, I feel you are just unlucky, and got something in there that has started generating mold / mildew. The filter likely needs to be changed and the evaporator coils cleaned. There are youtube videos if you are a DIY type of person, and it costs less than tesla charges to do it. I am not a DIY type for things on a vehicle, and had tesla do this work last year (about a year and half into my ownership).
 

al503

Member
Jan 11, 2019
184
84
Portland
Every car that I've had before the model 3 never had this issue because I would always turn the AC off and just run the fan for a few minutes before the end of the trip. Despite doing this with the model 3 (and before Tesla made this automatic) I got the smell. Changed the filters and used Nextzett foam.

I still turn the AC off and run the fan a few minutes because the auto doesn't start right after you leave the car, but it sure does run for an unnecessarily long time.
 

TLLMRRJ

Active Member
Dec 19, 2019
2,034
2,432
Houston
I posted this elsewhere: Even if you live in a dry climate, there's still moisture in the air, or you would probably die, and the AC will turn that air moisture into condensation on the evaporator coils under your dash.

Tesla clearly made a mistake putting paper filters touching these coils. Any moisture on the coils will soak into the paper filter element. That moisture will not easily dry from the paper once it soaks in, and wet wood-based paper is a great way to grow mold and fungus. That mold and fungus will then get into the coils.

There's no really go answer for the problem right now. What we really need is a filter that has a non-absorbent plastic frame that is the same size as OEM, but the filter material isn't as thick so it standoffs from coils and doesn't get wet.

Good business opportunity for someone. They will sell tons of them every year.
 

BeeGood

Member
Jan 27, 2020
199
155
Georgia
Thanks for all responses, Tesla have agreed to replace and clean free of charge, hopefully it won’t come back in a thousand miles.
Good to see they’re taking care of you.

Going forward, you’ll basically want to minimize the time that condensation stays on the coils after you run the AC.

The software feature that turns the fan on after you park is good for small amounts of moisture, but if it’s hot and you know there is a lot of condensation (or you just drove in the rain), it might not be enough. In these situations, It’s a good idea to run the fan yourself before you park or use the app to run the heater on HI for a few minutes after you park.

Also, if you have Cabin Overheat Protection set to AC, change that to “Fan Only”.
 

MikeyC

Member
Aug 19, 2019
408
584
Florida
Found this tread because my 4 month old Model 3 with 1000 miles just started to smell like vinegar. I'd replace the filters myself but they can't be dirty after only 1000 miles. I'll try the heater + Lysol method and see what that does. A shame that after 3 years, Tesla can't fix a design problem that is this simple!

Mike
 

driver7

Member
Aug 13, 2020
12
10
Falls Church, VA
…I'd replace the filters myself but they can't be dirty after only 1000 miles…

It can get a bit moldy from being very close / touching the moisture of the evaporator coil. When you remove the filters, examine them carefully, especially the paper casing and you’ll likely notice a bit of black mold that causes the smell.
 

Trips

"Boring bonehead questions are not cool. Next?"
Sep 22, 2015
1,225
1,460
Omaha, NE
The new filters that they use have a carbon in them that they said should help with the smell. I have no clue when they changed this but it looks like they are on the 3rd version of filters.

Old Replacements: Part #1107681-00-A (MFG on 8-2-2019)
New Replacements: Part #1107681-00-C (MFG on 4-27-2021)

Filters.PNG
 

TexasTezla

Member
Feb 28, 2020
285
228
Texas
I have Tesla coming round to change my cabin filters this month. No smells after 18 months ownership but just thought it was time for a change!
 

sroh

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Sep 10, 2017
723
2,643
San Jose, CA
I changed my filters this weekend on my model 3 with 30k miles on it. I used a FrostKing product to clean the coils and not the koolit product. It didn’t smell after. We will see how long it takes to return. Changing that filter is kind of painful. It took me less than a minute to change the filter in my Honda car-v. This one took more than 30 minutes plus your almost guaranteed to break a panel clip if you rush the job.
Can you post a link to the FrostKing product? I've been searching for the Kool-it product, but nobody has it in stock.

TIA.
 

pennm

New Member
Aug 24, 2021
1
0
Atlanta, ga
Just wanted you to know that you are not alone. I have 1800 miles on my 60 day old Tesla and over the weekend my car began to smell like a small animal died inside it. While it has been wet in Atlanta this summer, and I've had one other car in my 40 years of car ownership where the AC smelled funky, I've never had a car that smelled this awful. The last two mornings I've started my drive with the windows open to clear the dead animal smell. I made a thorough inspection of the interior and exterior and can't find the dead animal. This morning I realized it was the AC.
 

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