What to Do When Your Car’s AC Air Doesn’t Smell Right

Is your car’s air conditioner working out or does it just smell like someone who’s been working out? That’s not normal, and the answer isn’t to roll down your windows or hang an extra air freshener from your rearview mirror. In fact, if you’ve got mystery stink breezing out the air conditioning of your car every time you try to cool off, it’s well worth a drive to an automotive repair shop.

Bad for your health, bad for your car

One possible (and common) explanation for an odd smell from a car’s AC system is a buildup of mold or bacteria in the evaporator related to moisture being trapped. It should come as a surprise to no one that mold and bacteria blown at your face on a regular basis can cause health issues! Less hazardous but still troublesome, smelly fungal air blowing through your car can collect in anything that has any sort of absorbency, such as your seats, carpeting, and floor mats. A professional in auto air conditioning repair can help you get to the bottom of what’s causing the bacteria to build up—most likely a clogged drain hose—and sometimes even help with killing the bacteria using a special sonic treatment.

The dreaded critter problem

Another possible explanation for a smelly air conditioner is animals. Little critters don’t know the underside of a car from a hole in a tree, so they see no trouble with using it for everything from naps to nests to winter stores of food. You won’t necessarily be able to spot the offender with a quick peek under the hood, and the smell won’t necessarily disappear if you remove only the critter or its stash anyway. Plus, installation of a new cabin filter may be in order to prevent re-entry. This is why it’s best to have an auto air conditioning repair technician take a look to investigate (and treat) the whole picture.

When it’s urgent

There are numerous other explanations for odd smells coming from a car’s air conditioner, but gasoline or a sweet smell are particularly concerning and should be checked right away. Concerning doesn’t mean more expensive or difficult to fix; it means more hazardous. A sweet smell is often from toxic liquid ethylene glycol, found in antifreeze. Steer that car into an automotive repair shop today, not tomorrow.

Funky smells from your auto air conditioning are hard to ignore, but in a way that’s a good thing. Why? Because you shouldn’t ignore them. In doing so, you risk damaging your car’s AC system or other engine parts, your car’s interior, or worst of all, your health. Turn to an AC repair technician to help get your car’s AC system back to its odor-free self!