moldy smell

Discussion in 'Gen 1 Prius Plug-in 2012-2015' started by ralteredstates, Jul 16, 2013.

  1. ralteredstates

    ralteredstates Junior Member

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    Hi all: did a quick search and didn't find much helpful yet. After 1 year and 9000 miles, I have the dreaded moldy smell through the AC vents. Thought this would be covered by warranty but Toyota says "NO" and will cost me$120. That is unacceptable to have to pay $120/year for a problem that should NOT happen. I have had too many cars in the past to count and have never had this problem. It has to be a design issue (poor drainage??) Anyone have the fix/home repair for the problem? 2012 PIP. Thanks
     
  2. rogerv

    rogerv Senior Member

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    OK, here is my simple fix- I always turn off the a/c while driving the last few blocks home and run the fan the rest of the way. I then leave at least one window open. (I park in my garage.) I also leave the windows cracked just a bit when parking outside. This has worked on three Prius for me, along with several other makes.
    I'm guessing that the dealership fix is to spray a mildew killer like Lysol into the fresh air vents outside the car with the fan running. That you can do yourself, but if the car is given a chance to dry out it should take care of the problem. Your summer humidity contributes, but I have also noticed if water collects on the all weather floor mats from washing or rain, a mildew odor develops. The first time I ever had the mildew problem was in the summer in Kentucky. I took the car to a dealer for service and ask them to check the underside for roadkill, the smell was so bad.:sick:
     
  3. john1701a

    john1701a Prius Guru

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    That "shut off a few blocks before you arrive" advice is priceless.

    How else is the system going to purge the moisture inside if you abruptly make it stop immediately upon reaching the destination? It needs to circulate without the condenser for a little bit.

    With the plug-in model, there's the benefit of saving a little tiny bit of electricity from doing that too. Then there's the added bonus of not blasting people with nasty air later when you start up again. Sometimes, like in the evening, you don't need to A/C anyway. So having it off already can be a bonus.
     
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  4. ralteredstates

    ralteredstates Junior Member

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    Thanks for the excellent advise. I also purchased a mold killing spray that was easy to use. Pass tube through the center dash air vent and empty can of foam into coil/fan area. It worked but I also know that the mold will grow back if I don't do the shut-off-a-few-blocks-before-stopping trick. Unfortunately, I don't think this should be necessary and is a design flaw with this car. I have owned 20+ cars over the years and have never had this problem. The dealer would be charging me $120/year and never tell me how to avoid the problem. This does not give me much confidence in the dealer and quite frankly Toyota. It may be a minor problem to them but it should never be happening if drainage was proper.
     
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  5. retired4999

    retired4999 Prius driver since 2005

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    From the Toyota manual
    Air conditioning odors
    During use, various odors from inside and outside the vehicle may enter
    into and accumulate in the air conditioning system. This may then cause
    odor to be emitted from the vents.
    To reduce potential odors from occurring:
    • It is recommended that the air conditioning system be set to outside air
    mode prior to turning the vehicle off. :)
     
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  6. JMD

    JMD 2012 Prius 4 Solar Roof

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    Excellent
     
  7. ralteredstates

    ralteredstates Junior Member

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    Unfortunately, those instructions are not good enough. I always use outside air unless behind a bus...then I set recurc. for a minute or so. They do not say shut off A.C. and this would be a ridiculous action for Toyota to make us do. The outside air mode does not prevent mold/mildew from growing. It looks like you MUST shut off A/C compressor and set fan to high a few minutes before stopping car so the coil drys off. Setting to outside air only will not dry off coil.
     
  8. JMD

    JMD 2012 Prius 4 Solar Roof

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    Wonder if the solar roof changes the picture since it circulates air from the outside if the temp is above 70 degrees
     
  9. wjtracy

    wjtracy Senior Member

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    I don't think anyone yet mentioned the A/C filter in glove compartment needs replaced could be the whole problem, assuming Gen3 also has this same filter?
     
  10. ralteredstates

    ralteredstates Junior Member

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    Good question. After spraying the anti-mildew foam in the system, the smell is GONE. I didn't change the filter and don't think I will have to. If the smell comes back soon, I will next replace the filter.
     
  11. ralteredstates

    ralteredstates Junior Member

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    BTW the spray I used is "einszett 961105 Klima Cleaner " which I got off of Amazon for $15.50 delivered. Worth every penny and a lot cheaper than having dealer do the exact same thing.
     
  12. wjtracy

    wjtracy Senior Member

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    You can also get the filter off Amazon for a few bucks...they recommend 6-months...the cheap filter on Amazon is OK (I just got one) but there are some activated carbon ones for more money. Good luck with the car!
     
  13. rogerv

    rogerv Senior Member

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    I have noticed that it seems to automatically switch to inside/recirculate when I use the a/c on hot days, and back to outside air when I switch the a/c off but leave the fan going. BTW, I never use the "AUTO" function.
    I used to work at a Mercedes store, and we had many customers come in with a similar complaint during the warmer months. It was a quick fix in the service drive to spray in something like Lysol. If that didn't cure it, an expensive shop visit might be required. In my earlier post, the car in question was a Cadillac, and the dealer checked to make sure the drain line from the system was clear. I have heard of the complaint on different makes of cars, so I don't think Toyota is alone on this one. Maybe this was a "perfect storm" combining humidity, temperature (system staying in "recirculate mode") and a tight car body? I've noticed it in my Lexus all three Prius I've owned if I don't follow my habit of switching off the air prior to parking for the night.
     
  14. ralteredstates

    ralteredstates Junior Member

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    I rarely use AUTO mode because it likes to go to recirc. I only want outside air but either setting is not the culprit. Your preventive measure is hopefully going to keep it in check. I (fortunately?) have never had this problem and I had the Lexus LS460 for a few years (amazing car but made me feel pretentious...my problem). It is such a noxious smell especially first thing in the morning to get blasted by mold/mildew, it takes your breath away...literally. I should have probably tried Lysol first but I wanted the highest rated and specifically made product I could find. There is a mesh on the outside fresh-air grill that prevents passing a tube down into the coil chamber. I could have made a slit in the mesh but the instructions on the product I used said to go through the center dash vent. It worked instantly and not just as a coverup.
     
  15. Jetsurgn

    Jetsurgn Junior Member

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  16. rogerv

    rogerv Senior Member

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    Yep, I've used that one also.
     
  17. ny_rob

    ny_rob Senior Member

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    I've noticed that mold smell the last few days too... we just got over a 10 day heat wave with temps in the mid 90's to 100 so the AC was on constantly.

    You say you sprayed with the tube in the "center dash air vent"? Is that the two vents directly over the CD player slot?
    dsc08067-500x375.jpg
     
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