Automobiles do not usually have stale, unpleasant odors but many drivers are often bothered and annoyed when they turn on the car's cooling system and those musty, stale air conditioning odors rush out of the vents. It is actually quite common for people to turn on air conditioning units and notice stale odors for the first 3-5 minutes
Usually after several moments of air conditioning odors, the unpleasant smell will simply fade away. Sometimes this peculiar odor will remain as long as the air conditioner is on and the fan is blowing. Even fairly new cars are not immune from the stale and annoying odors that very often accompany the cool breeze from your car’s air conditioner. While not a health hazard, these odors can be very unpleasant. Most people want a safe and easy way to rid their vehicles of the scent.
A basic review of the air conditioner system in a car is necessary in order to develop a better understanding of how and why unpleasant air conditioning odors occur. You can also find out how to get rid of the odors with a little elbow grease and disinfectant. This tip might help you prevent future occurrences of this same problem.
When an auto's air conditioner is started, the compressor pump has to push the coolant through the hoses and coils to the condenser. The condenser is easy to find and is located in front of the radiators.
This is the place where the coolant product is actually cooled and is changed into liquid form. The liquid in the condenser is then pulled through tubes and hoses to the auto's evaporator unit. The evaporator unit is found in the ac heater housing unit. At this junction, the fluid will be changed into a gas and the heat from the evaporator unit is absorbed by this gas.
The air has almost constant water vapors that are present and this creates condensation on the newly cooled vents of the evaporator unit. This is the same thing that occurs when you take a cool jar from your refrigerator and place it on the table. The difference in temperature creates a layer of water, or condensation on the outside of the jar.
The condensed water is what traps the dirt and dust from the air as it is moving through the vents of the evaporator unit and blowing into the car to cool the passengers. Ordinarily you would expect this dirty water to drip into the bottom pan of the air conditioning and heater-housing unit. You always see this fluid dripping and puddling beneath cars in parking lots, especially during those hot, summer months.
Whenever a car is being driven it will encounter a dirty environment. You can count on some of the dirt, dust and other pollutants to end up caught in the bottom pan of this housing unit. This is not a totally air tight piece of machinery. This dirt and dust will also coat the evaporator unit, particularly on the tiny vents. These vents lead into the interior of your vehicle and as the air begins to blow through the system, and over these vents, you smell and inhale all of the air conditioning odors from the dirty water and whatever is in the water.
With a mixture of a dark warm environment, water, and dirt, you have a perfect place for fungi, bacteria, mold, and mildew. It is the dirty water and these microbes that are responsible for those air conditioning odors that you dislike. Your air conditioning unit is almost an innocent party; its only fault is trying to keep you cool.
There are some ways for you to clean and disinfect the units and thereby get rid of the air conditioning odors:
You can remove the entire housing unit and clean it yourself with disinfectant solutions.
You can opt to take the car to a professional mechanic and hire him to do this for you.
You can also just use a spray disinfectant solution and try to spray this into the complete interior of the housing unit. This auto AC disinfectant is available at almost all auto shops and all of the dealerships now carry it. If you will also clean the evaporating unit, you will help decrease or remove the odor and this one little project may help your air conditioner perform better. When you clean those vents on the evaporating unit this often allows better airflow and more efficient cooling.
Spray the disinfectant into the housing unit by aiming through the visible opening where the blower motor is mounted upon the resistor block. Your car's resistor block must be unbolted from the mount to get to the opening, but leave the block and the wiring connected. You must make sure to keep the blower motor running while you are doing the disinfecting. This is important to allow the spray to disinfect the system. Make sure to get the disinfectant into the housing and on the evaporator unit. Do not spray any of the solution onto any hot motor parts.
Use your vent fans or household portable fans to keep the interior of your car well ventilated during the time that you are actively applying the disinfectant. You want to get all of the disinfectant and the residue out and blown away. Let the car sit for about 5-10 minutes and then thoroughly wash and rinse all around the housing with at least 3-4 L of clean water. You will need to spray this water through that same opening. At this point, you can turn off your fans and put your resistor block back in its proper place.