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Odor From Ac


rxrb
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Just replaced the cabin air filter on our recently-acquired '01 RX300 and still we're experiencing a rather foul smell--but only when AC is running. Any advice would be most welcome.

That wonderful dirty wet sock aroma is most likely mold in your AC condensor. There are products available that you spray through the condensor drain line and it then foams up in there cleaning out the smelly stuff. Changing the filter will most likely do nothing. I'm pretty certain there are some threads covering this subject, do some searches there are probably other methods to resolve this issue that work as well.

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Just replaced the cabin air filter on our recently-acquired '01 RX300 and still we're experiencing a rather foul smell--but only when AC is running. Any advice would be most welcome.

That wonderful dirty wet sock aroma is most likely mold in your AC condensor. There are products available that you spray through the condensor drain line and it then foams up in there cleaning out the smelly stuff. Changing the filter will most likely do nothing. I'm pretty certain there are some threads covering this subject, do some searches there are probably other methods to resolve this issue that work as well.

Thanks!

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Just replaced the cabin air filter on our recently-acquired '01 RX300 and still we're experiencing a rather foul smell--but only when AC is running. Any advice would be most welcome.

rxrb- You live in a pretty damp part of the country but for the most part the reason for the mold is running the A/C on Max right until it is shut off. It has a lot of moisture build in the evaporator area and then when it sits it molds. When you use Max position (don't know on the RX if it is listed some other way), it isn't drawing outside air over the evap. to keep it dried off. When I use Max position, a couple miles before I arrive at my destination I switch to regular A/C so I get the outside air over the evap. to dry it off. If the humidity is high enough where you live you may have to occasionally use the spray through the air intake to keep the mold killed. (that's the air intake for the Heat/ A/C in front of the windshield).

I live in Cal. so the air here is pretty dry but 2 of the new vehicles we have purchased had the dirty sock smell on A/C when we purchased them. I knew what it was and how to fix it but just ran it only on regular A/C for a week or 10 days and with no moisture to feed it it died on it's own and never returned. In Vermont you may not be quite that lucky.

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There are products out there to do it yourself, but since recently acquired it might be worth going to Toyota or Lexus to get it taken care of. Its also possible that the door which allows fresh air in is stuck in recirc position and created the original problem. BTW, the condition is known as "dirty sock syndrome" (DSS), and is a big problem with modern heat pump systems. Google it. I had the problem years ago on another vehicle and, after remediation, was told not only to run it mostlyt with outside air but to shut off ac completely and run the fan at higher speed several minutes before reaching destination.

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The first thing to try for the AC odor is to spray LYSOL into the underhood air vents with the car runnng and the AC on...do the same with the heat on. Let it sit for a while between treatments and repeat.

While Lysol might work, Pure Air by Interdynamics is specifically made for auto air odors (I found an old bottle sitting around from when I had the problem). Got it at an auto parts store.

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The first thing to try for the AC odor is to spray LYSOL into the underhood air vents with the car runnng and the AC on...do the same with the heat on. Let it sit for a while between treatments and repeat.

While Lysol might work, Pure Air by Interdynamics is specifically made for auto air odors (I found an old bottle sitting around from when I had the problem). Got it at an auto parts store.

Like I've said, in a reasonably dry climate all you have to do is deprive it of moisture sitting on the evaporator to end the problem. I've had it several times over the years in addition to the 2 new cars that we have had that came with the problem. Have never had to treat the problem, it went away in a short time on it's own when I simply ran it on regular air for a mile or two before I reached my destination. Lysol will kill it very effectively but is not even needed unless the climate is a high humidity one. The problem is a lot more easily dealt with than most people realize.

I don't know what Lexus would charge but I think they would be enjoying a nice night out on the money you spent on having it done, when you could a lot more easily enjoy that nice night out and take care of it yourself, being that it so easy to deal with.

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Ozium works great on odors, doesn't cover it eliminates, it was developed for use in hospitals to sanitize the air, it has helped a great deal with a smoke odor from the previous owner.

cfi- The thing is, with the DSS you need to eliminate the cause of the DS odor (in this case the mold caused by the wet evaporator) and the odor will self eliminate. Killing the mold is easy- it can't live without the moisture. Either kill it with something that actually KILLS the mold or use the blower in whatever way you choose to dry the evap. (just not rec.) and it will die on it's own. Problem solved. :)

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Ozium works great on odors, doesn't cover it eliminates, it was developed for use in hospitals to sanitize the air, it has helped a great deal with a smoke odor from the previous owner.

cfi- The thing is, with the DSS you need to eliminate the cause of the DS odor (in this case the mold caused by the wet evaporator) and the odor will self eliminate. Killing the mold is easy- it can't live without the moisture. Either kill it with something that actually KILLS the mold or use the blower in whatever way you choose to dry the evap. (just not rec.) and it will die on it's own. Problem solved. :)

I've been forced to deal with mold in a car AC system, a high efficiency Trane heat pump (Trane replaced the the coil), and a house wall due to a poorly constructed valley. Unfortunately, depriving mold of moisture will not kill it but cause it to go dormant, only to thrive again when it someday reacquires moisture. And while in the dry/dormant phase, the spores are much more likely to spread through air movement. You will be much better off in the long run to eliminate it now, and thereafter operate your system in such a way that it does not reoccur.

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I've been forced to deal with mold in a car AC system, a high efficiency Trane heat pump (Trane replaced the the coil), and a house wall due to a poorly constructed valley. Unfortunately, depriving mold of moisture will not kill it but cause it to go dormant, only to thrive again when it someday reacquires moisture. And while in the dry/dormant phase, the spores are much more likely to spread through air movement. You will be much better off in the long run to eliminate it now, and thereafter operate your system in such a way that it does not reoccur.

mccldwll- You have peeked my interest in this now. Does that mean that the 2 new vehicles that we have purchased with the odor as standard equp. NEVER were rid of the mold spores, only that they were sleeping? We owned the 1 car for 7 years and I owned the truck for 3 yrs. and the odor never returned. Were we breathing the mold spores all of that time? One would think that if that were the case that you would suffer health problems as a result, considering how dangerous mold is. I will have to do some research on this.

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  • 1 year later...

I bought a LS 460 in July 2008 and the rancid, sour-milk-dirty-wet-socks-vomit smell began spewing from the vents when the A/C is on about 6 months into ownership. It only happens for about 15 - 20 seconds, but when it's blasting forth, it's enough to gag you. I have had the car at the dealership service department 3 or 4 times since then. They can never recreate the problem (which stuns me because now it happens almost every time I turn on the A/C). In the past, they've told me to leave my car windows down while the car is parked overnight in the garage. No help. They've advised me to run A/C on outside air, rather than recirculate. No help. This past winter, it also happened when my heater was on.

Today, I was told that because I have children, the bad smell was coming from the car itself, and that it needed to be detailed. Wow. Yes, apparently, when the A/C is on, and it's on recirculate that simply brings the air from the back of the car, where the children are, up through the vents! I don't even know what to say. I have a call into the General Manager and Lexus Corporate. Then I came here and saw this conversation. My stinky children and I are thankful for this forum.

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I can virtually guarantee you it's from the mold. I am surprised that running it on outside instead of recirculate didn't cure the problem, except that you live in DFW which is considerably more humid that So. Cal. All I have EVER had to do in several cars (and trucks) that I have had the problem was make sure and run it on outside and if I ever ran it on recirculate because it was a hot day, was to shut the A/C off a couple minutes before I reached home and let the fan dry the evaporator by the time I was home. It sounds like you are going to have to get the stuff made to kill the mold (or else use Lysol, which will also do the trick) because of the humid air where you live. It should not be hard to kill. I am utterly amazed that the dealer didn't just use the product made to kill it, that has been common knowledge in the automotive field for the last 40 years. I would be concerned about their competence in other things at that rate, really!

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FYI - Had a similar problem in another import. After numerous attempts by their dealership to eliminate odor, the manufacturer repurchased the vehicle after it was inspected by corporate engineers etc.

They never divulged the source of the odor. It was not a Lexus and I signed off so I cannot mention the name, but it was a luxury line. Although the odor was similar to a wet dog etc. they tried everything to no avail.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I can virtually guarantee you it's from the mold. I am surprised that running it on outside instead of recirculate didn't cure the problem, except that you live in DFW which is considerably more humid that So. Cal. All I have EVER had to do in several cars (and trucks) that I have had the problem was make sure and run it on outside and if I ever ran it on recirculate because it was a hot day, was to shut the A/C off a couple minutes before I reached home and let the fan dry the evaporator by the time I was home. It sounds like you are going to have to get the stuff made to kill the mold (or else use Lysol, which will also do the trick) because of the humid air where you live. It should not be hard to kill. I am utterly amazed that the dealer didn't just use the product made to kill it, that has been common knowledge in the automotive field for the last 40 years. I would be concerned about their competence in other things at that rate, really!

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  • 1 month later...

I recently bought a used 1996 gs300 with only 11,000 miles in brand new condition. The AC smells like cat urine for about 20 seconds when I turn the car on. If I just turn on the vents it smells even worse for much longer. I have sprayed Lysol in the vent near the hood, I have replaced the filter twice. The Local dealership said they sprayed something in the system recently. I have run the heat for 10-20 minutes several times lately. I run with vents open (never on recirc) and turn the AC off several minutes before i turn car off and run vents. All I know is that this is a serious problem. Why does my 2001 Volvo xc70 turn the vents on 40 minues after the car turns off?? Because they know that moisture is a major problem. Why does my much newer Lexus not have a system like that? I have read thread after thread about lysol and turning heat on etc...Do we really need to do whis with luxury cars? What do I need to do? My wife is 8 months pregnant...she just took my car out and can not believe the smell and is concerned for our health. I can't recommend anyone buying a Lexus unless someone tells me what is really wrong here.

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I meant a 2006 lexus gs300 (not 1996..sorry)

If it's a 2006, you need to get help from Lexus. That is simply not right. As stated in earlier posts, in all the years I spent in automotive work I have never heard of the kind of problems with A/C/Heat odor problems that I have read here on the Lexus forums. I have purchased a new car and a new truck that had the typical odor (when we drove them home) and all I did is not run on Max air and run the fan on air only for about a minute (this for about a week) before I reached my destination and the odor went away and never returned in 7 years of ownership of the car and 5 for the truck. Lexus CAN'T say to you that it's YOUR problem (on a 4 year old Lexus!)

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