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Cabin Filter Replacement


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Shortly after purchasing my '03 ES300, I started smelling an incredibly horrible odor whenever I used the hvac system (particularly when using the defrost feature). Management at the dealer where I purchased the car couldn't believe the horrible smell. They took it into the garage, and the tech told them they just had to replace the ES filter with an RX filter. That didn't help. Finally, after much struggling, another dealer cleaned out the "evaporator?" and the odor diminished. I was thrilled. The odor is back. I was told by the dealer that Lexus has now determined that this is a "maintenance" issue, and that each owner should expect to pay $70 to replace this "new" cabin filter every 7,500 miles. They will not clean the evaporator when replacing the filter. BTW, they put a new filter in, but because the odor was just starting to return, I can't tell if it has stopped the problem in its tracks. It didn't last time. I'm just wondering if anyone else has heard this info. Thanks.

Lola

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Hey Lola, I did some reading on this and one comment that kept coming up is to have in it the "fresh air" mode most of the time. This allows for the condensations from the evaporator to drain. If you keep it in the "recirculation" mode the evaporator does not get a chance to dry out, allowing bacteria or mold to grow on the fins of the evap.

There are products that you can spray into the vents near your wiper blades that will help with this condition. These products usually have alcohol in them.

Hope this helps.

Mark

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the ES cabin filters are about $25 each from www.irontoad.com. Takes less than 2 mintues to replace.

If your AC system is constantly on RECIRC then the smell comes back often.

Like mbpgawest said, leave the system on fresh air (RECIRC off) to allow evaporate.

Unscented Lysol is a common discenfectant used available at the local store. Spray for 45 seconds into the vent intakes at the base of the windows. Do this while running the AC on full cold and on full hot with the fan on full. Do this for 5 days each day. Then once a week for a month and then once a month for maintanence. This will help kill most of the growning bacteria/mold in the system already.

Another product that I have heard alot about from "professionals" is called Atmosklear. It is used the same way and is only available through 1-800-977-4145.

I am going on 43k miles and have only to change the filter once at 22k miles. I just change this filter once a year now.

steviej

Edited by steviej
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Thanks for the info, guys. I'm confused because I personally don't know anyone who has had this ongoing problem I'm having, yet Lexus says it is now a "maintenance item," so I guess there are some out there. I, too, thought about using the fresh air feature when this first started happening. Unfortunately, if you can believe this, the odor was worse! I'm not even kidding, it is the most vile smell you would ever imagine. No one wanted to get in the car with me because everyone was getting sick. Like I said, cleaning out this evaporator box (or whatever it's called) seemed to have an impact for a while. Ugh. I love my car. Wish there weren't so many darn problems!!!

Lola

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change the filter, dissinfect the entire AC system, and run the dissinfectant through on a monthly basis. Keep it on fresh air and you shouldn't have a problem in the future.

Until the mold and mildew is killed, it is going to be odorous.

give it a try yourself. It's cheaper than going to the dealership.

To make you feel not left out, many modern car makers are having this problem.

Once the mold and mildew set up, it is hard to get them out, but it is do-able.

steviej

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I had this problem years ago and have always worried about it. I and many in my family have numerous allergies so it was a specific concern. The news about certain molds being really hazardous made it even more so.

After thinking about this for years, it finally occurred to me that if you could give your ductwork a thorough "airing" it might not occur. So, I decided that I could run straight outside air through the ducts at high velocity for a couple minutes before stopping the car. You cannot always tell when you are going to stop, but often you can.

Then, for some other reason, I went to a website for AFAA (something like American Foundation for Allergies and Asthma) and discovered that exact routine recommended. When I find the exact site, I will post it.

I religiously follow this routine. If I stop before doing this, I will stay in the car and let it run outside air for about 1-1/2 minutes. The Recirculation light will sometimes come on and I will stop it, because it is not in the cabin that I believe it originates but as close to the coils as possible.

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I heard that same thing, and have been doing it for a few years with no problems! Just turn the fan on high with the AC off in the fresh air setting usually does the trick. You can really tell if you don't let it out, and get back in the car and turn it on vent.

Side note, for us guys running a 97' model year: I know a couple of us have tried to change out our cabin filter with no luck. I know there is one just right of the gas pedal, but my mechanic couldn't figure- or me for that matter- how to get it out to replace it???? I know it's replacable, because the parts counter shows it as a repalcable filter. They didn't know about it till I showed it to them! The thing has 114k miles on it, and probably looks pretty darn nasty! Anybody changed it yet?

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After thinking about this for years, it finally occurred to me that if you could give your ductwork a thorough "airing" it might not occur. So, I decided that I could run straight outside air through the ducts at high velocity for a couple minutes before stopping the car. You cannot always tell when you are going to stop, but often you can.

Your absolutely right Jay.

I had the odor problem years ago and read on "Click and Clack" about turning off your a/c and placing your vent on fresh 1 - 2 miles or 2 - 3 minutes before your final destination to clear out moisture from the evaporator that causes all this mildew to begin with. And this advice has been working for me stop vent odor while help me save fuel as well.

I would forget to turn off my a/c once in a while and I can get a bad smell the next time I return to the vehicle. but I just need to place in on fresh with a/c off for an extra 5 minutes and everything is fine.

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