Mold/Vinegar Smell from A/C

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Does your car have the smell?


  • Total voters
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Caulin

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Any word on if this "kit" is being used by tesla yet? I complained about the smell to my local SC and they basically said here was nothing they can do and that i could spray lysol into the intake vent to get rid of it.
 

BobbyM3

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I haven’t heard back from Tesla service yet. The technician told me to wait until they get back to me.
 

NR4P

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Just had my M3 in for other service, complained about the smell and they took care of it at n/c.
Service docs show they used "Kool It".
A commercial product.

It's been improved since I picked up the car Friday.
 
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Made a service appointment online yesterday for end of the month. Got a text from Tesla service stating they can send their mobile service out to replace the cabin air filter and clean the ac coil for $147.75+tax. I replied back "is this not covered under warranty?". He replied "Unfortunately, it is not". I have a hard time not seeing this as a warranty issue on a car with 8K miles. Not sure what to do now. I may just cancel the appointment. Can somebody explain how it's not a warranty issue. I asked service to explain how it is "not" a warranty issue. I'll update
 

Caulin

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Made a service appointment online yesterday for end of the month. Got a text from Tesla service stating they can send their mobile service out to replace the cabin air filter and clean the ac coil for $147.75+tax. I replied back "is this not covered under warranty?". He replied "Unfortunately, it is not". I have a hard time not seeing this as a warranty issue on a car with 8K miles. Not sure what to do now. I may just cancel the appointment. Can somebody explain how it's not a warranty issue. I asked service to explain how it is "not" a warranty issue. I'll update
My SC said the same thing. It is clearly a design flaw since all of our low mileage cars are having the same issue.
 

PNWmisty

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My SC said the same thing. It is clearly a design flaw since all of our low mileage cars are having the same issue.
I'm very sensitive to smells. We park both our Model 3's either in an open carport at home or on our gravel driveway under the rain forest tree canopy at our cabin. The PNW is pretty wet and the car gets covered in forest duff (needles, leaves, lichen and moss dropped from the trees). In over a year, neither of our cars has anything but a fresh air smell. We don't use recirculate very often (only if it's hotter than normal). I don't know if it's a design flaw or not but clearly enough people are having a problem that the car is in the bottom half of all cars in terms of resistance to mold/mildew in the A/C system.

We have had the mildew smell in the A/C of previous cars (also purchased new) and used in the same conditions/locations as both of our Model 3's. It was so bad in our VW Eurovan that we learned to always turn off the A/C a couple of miles before arriving home (and letting the vent fan continue to run). Since adopting this preventive measure, we haven't had mildew smells in our A/C in any of our cars (including our two Model 3's which have never developed mildew smells). A/C mold/mildew smells is a common automotive problem though some models are clearly more susceptible to it than others. I will note that our cars are parked either on the level or facing downhill. Other than that, and our habit of turning off the A/C a couple of minutes early, I don't know why some cars get it and others don't. It could also be that the very hot engine of internal combustion cars either "bakes" the moisture dry more quickly or gets hot enough to sterilize the A/C condenser on hot days after parking. On the other hand, A/C mold/mildew smells are very common in ICE vehicles so that is not necessarily the answer.

For all those reasons, I would be hesitant to call it a design flaw without evidence that water was being trapped or there was some other identifiable flaw. It's been known for decades that A/C systems will become breeding grounds for mold/mildew under appropriate conditions and it's VERY common in many cars, probably having more to do with local climate and weather patterns, pollen count, and use scenarios than the precise make/model of car. I do think the A/C in the Model 3 is extra cold and this might make it somewhat more susceptible.
 
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Mesprit87

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I suggest we add a pole to this thread and see some real numbers.
I also agree that various mode of utilisation of the A/C will result in different outcome.
I have been turning off ac before parking the car lately and it does seem to help (it's logical at least).
Finding a solution doesn't mean I don't think it's a defect. Those filters should last the maintenance schedule without having to be replaced/cleaned.
 

MelindaV

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I suggest we add a pole to this thread and see some real numbers.
I also agree that various mode of utilisation of the A/C will result in different outcome.
I have been turning off ac before parking the car lately and it does seem to help (it's logical at least).
Finding a solution doesn't mean I don't think it's a defect. Those filters should last the maintenance schedule without having to be replaced/cleaned.
added a poll with options for the various scenarios I've seen mentioned here. :)
 

PNWmisty

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I suggest we add a pole to this thread and see some real numbers.
A poll will give you numbers but I wouldn't call them "real" or statistically significant in terms of actual owners with the problem. That's because of "thread bias", ie, someone with mold/mildew smells is more likely to spend their time on this thread and, furthermore, taking the poll. Since we can't control for thread bias (or tell exactly how strong that effect is) any poll numbers will be largely meaningless. Certainly not statistically significant in assessing how widespread the problem is.
 

MelindaV

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A poll will give you numbers but I wouldn't call them "real" or statistically significant in terms of actual owners with the problem. That's because of "thread bias", ie, someone with mold/mildew smells is more likely to spend their time on this thread and, furthermore, taking the poll. Since we can't control for thread bias (or tell exactly how strong that effect is) any poll numbers will be largely meaningless. Certainly not statistically significant in assessing how widespread the problem is.
how is that different than any of the other polls in threads here?
I don't think anyone is looking for scientific facts out of the polls
 

Mesprit87

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Oups missed the fact that the poll was already there...
Edit: I didn't refresh fast enough @MelindaV 😉
I agree with the thead bias but still the people voting have the problem, this number is real in itself.
Also, the fact that the problem exists in other manufacturers doesn't mean their design was flawed too...
 
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zosoisnotaword

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I had this issue with my last vehicle, so from that research I was prepared to prevent the problem in my 3. Last summer (6 months in Alabama) I always made sure that recirc was turned off, and it never developed the mildew smell. But I did start using the A/C cabin overheat protection towards the end of summer, and I think that may have started the process. I noticed at the beginning of this summer (around April) that I had the mildew smell even though I was careful about making sure recirc was always off.

I can't be certain that A/C-on COP was the cause, but it seems likely since that option runs the compressor with a very low fan speed which is an effective recipe for leaving moisture on the evaporator coils. If COP defaults to recirc, that would add another ingredient, but I'm not sure if it does or not.

I'm planning to wait until summer is over (October) to change cabin filters and perform an evaporator cleaning, but I've developed additional preventative habits to remove the moisture from the system. When I get close to work, I turn fan speed up to 10, and a couple minutes before I park I turn off the compressor. I do the same when I get home, but instead I wait until I'm parked, then compressor->off and fan->10, and I leave my the driver door cracked. I usually leave it running for about 5 minutes while I go inside and transform into home-mode, then come back out and shut it down. I usually end up with a puddle at least a foot in diameter from the drainage. And I use fan-only COP now.
 

PNWmisty

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how is that different than any of the other polls in threads here?
I don't think anyone is looking for scientific facts out of the polls
All polls of this nature will have thread bias yielding the poll results relatively meaningless. So the short answer is it's not really any different than any other thread poll, I'm just pointing out what should be obvious because I think people not skilled in polling and statistics have a tendency to look at such data and think it actually means something it doesn't.

However, in this case I think it's especially important to point it out because I'll suggest that thread bias varies in intensity and that it is particularly strong in an unpleasantly titled thread such as "Mold/Vinegar Smell from A/C". Because someone not afflicted with bad smells is unlikely to want to spend their precious time reading about other peoples stinky air conditioners.

People come to car forums to solve an issue they have or to read fun stuff, not read about other peoples stink.
 

Jay79

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I can hear the the fans continuing to run for around 10 seconds or so after I get out of the car. I think it is to purge the system in some fashion of moisture to prevent the vinger type smell that people have reported. I had it happen to me once and never again and this seems like the countermeasure to prevent that smell from returning. I could be wrong
 

fsKotte

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how is that different than any of the other polls in threads here?
I don't think anyone is looking for scientific facts out of the polls
I had to put "other" because my situation - no smell at all for the first year, then a really bad smell - isn't one of the listed responses.
Not complaining, just letting you know that one of the "other" votes is mine and for the above reason.
 

MelindaV

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I had to put "other" because my situation - no smell at all for the first year, then a really bad smell - isn't one of the listed responses.
Not complaining, just letting you know that one of the "other" votes is mine and for the above reason.
would that not be "yes, consistently since it began"? or "yes, but only a noticed some times"? I think it is implied the cars were not delivered smelling
 

Needsdecaf

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Tesla should cover this issue. It's clearly not just user error.

Having said that, fortunately I haven't had the problem here in Houston. I don't manage the settings, and run a mix of recirc and fresh.

I had this happen in my Acura many moons ago and used this product with good success. Just in case Tesla decides to tell you to go long....

https://www.bgprod.com/catalog/climate-control/bg-frigi-fresh/
 

Caulin

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Tesla told me its not a design flaw and they were happy to replace the filters and clean the AC for $155. They also told me to run my ac and see if the car drips onto the floor. If it drips, its draining correctly. If it doesn't drip, its clogged and im assuming they would fix that for free.
 

Ct200h

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11,000 miles and humid here in Virginia finally starting to get a little vinegar smell. Couple things to note the alc runs all day in a sunny 100 degree parking lot , good idea to pay attenti9n to the slope you are parked on make sure that doesn’t interfere with drainage . I work for Lexus , couple things , 1. We don’t cover A/C smells under warranty typically either . And 2. Lexus started have the car switch to fresh air once parked to allow the evaporator to dry better. Not sure what Tesla does , though with the system running even when the car is off may change that situation.
Might try some BG frigid fresh if needed. I don’t like chemicals too much🤪