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Taking a Stand on 2007 Prius AC Mold Problem!

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by Walk_the_walk, Jun 25, 2008.

?
  1. Yes

    6 vote(s)
    19.4%
  2. No

    12 vote(s)
    38.7%
  3. Maybe

    5 vote(s)
    16.1%
  4. Dont think it will help one damn bit

    8 vote(s)
    25.8%
  1. Walk_the_walk

    Walk_the_walk Junior Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Central Florida
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    Model:
    II
    Dear Fellow Prius owners:

    This is a long posting, but worth your time to read:

    We own a 07 Prius which is garage-kept and driven daily by my wife. We recently have noticed an offensive odor of mold coming from the AC vent whenever the car is first started (AC is first engaged).

    This is a common Prius problem, and many other owners are reporting on this problem - just search on "mold" and you will see what I mean.

    So, we made an appointment with our local dealer to get this problem addressed under warranty, even letting them know in advance WHY we were coming, as we believe that this is a valid and common warranty issue for any new car, no matter who makes it. (To be clear, this is mold, not mildew (which occurs on fabric) and it is caused by a design flaw in this car, and is not a naturally occurring problem, as your dealer may have told you.)

    At first, We got nothing but excuses from our dealer. Also, they denied coverage under the vehicle warranty, too, so we ended up paying to have them clean the evaporator (cooling) coil for this warranty problem.

    Now, I have about 15 years experience as an engineer working on commercial HVAC systems, and I do know a good bit about how AC works and about mold abatement. Having mold in your car is unacceptable and can cause health issues, such as headaches, fatique and other allergic or sensitivity responses. This is true for your home or office, just the same as for your car.

    But, our dealer's position is that:
    1) this is not covered by the warranty, and

    2) this is a common problem occurring with other makes and models of cars and

    3) we can clean the coil for you and you need to run the car AC on outside air, rather than recirculated air (which apparently is the default setting).

    All 3 of these positions make no sense to me, #3 in particular since we live in a very humid climate where the O.A. humidity is often higher (80-95%) than in other locales. Again, the problem here is moisture buildup on the coil, or in the coil drain pan or drain line, or a blockage or buildup in the drain line, but in general, any of these issues would still constitute a design flaw or defect in the car itself, and therefore should be covered by the car warranty for the 1st 3 years or 36,000 miles.

    So, I escalated my concerns, in a polite fashion to Southeast Toyota Distributors, the company that runs all 169 dealerships in Florida, Georgia, and other states. The rep I spoke with WAS VERY AWARE of this issue, as they are based in South Florida, where the problem is EVEN MORE PREVALENT. Apparently, they are using a product called Baczymes for control of the mold on evap coils, which sounds like they are trying to mask or inhibit the mold growth, rather than FIXING THE PROBLEM.

    While the rep was polite and promised to call my dealer, and call me back, I am still out some $$ for a warranty problem. And, the callback has yet to take place.

    So, I have now contacted Toyota Corporate directly and asked them to respond to this issue. They opened a Case for me on this issue.

    Now, I am asking the rest of you with this problem to do likewise, to use the power of the Internet to let Toyota know that there really is a design defect, a design problem in later model Priuses and that there is an issue with this mold smell that needs to be addressed and there needs to be a TSB issued (Technical Service Bulletin) about this. (At present, there isn't even a TSB on this problem.)

    All you have to do is call Toyota Customer Service's toll free number and report that you are also having this same problem - it takes about 2-3 minute to do that. Here is the number to call: 800-331-4331.

    There is power in numbers, folks. The first step is to get TOYOTA to recognize that THERE IS A PROBLEM HERE.


    In the meantime, some of you have posted some wonderful ideas about how to deal with this problem. These include:

    1) running the fresh air fan for 2 minutes before shutting off the car,
    2) running the AC in non-Recirc mode on Outside air (which drastically reduces the cooling efficiency on hot days in Florida, folks)

    3) running the heater before shutting off the car, and

    4) using various non-bleach anti-microbial foaming cleansers to kill the mold and/or inhibit the growth of mold, (which is what we paid the dealer to do today).

    5) Another solution that has not been mentioned is to replace the evap coil with a Teflon coated evaporator coil. This is a common practice with indoor AC systems that have problems with mold growth, such as TRANE variable speed AC units.

    In any case, the responsibility for SOLVING this problem lies with Toyota, and the financial burden should not fall upon the consumer to pay extra for a mold-free AC system - we should not have to do that, and we should not have to put up with mold in our cars either!

    Think about it - do your other cars spew out mold?? I have owned Hondas, Fords, Subarus and now an Isuzu in Florida and never had this problem before. So, it is a uniquely Toyota problem and it is Toyota's responsibility to get this addressed. Their $100K engineers need to go back to the drawing board on this one, folks.

    In any case, if you are willing to call Toyota and report this problem to the Corporate call center, we can get some momentum going on this, as it appears there are many people reporting this same problem. You paid a lot for this little car - and we love our Prius, as no doubt you do - but you don't have to put up with factory defects!

    Again that number for Toyota Corporate Customer Service is: 800-331-4331.


     
    amusing.texas likes this.
  2. narf

    narf Active Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Colorado
    Vehicle:
    2016 Prius
    Model:
    Four Touring
    Sorry,

    I've owned 3 Priuses, haven't had the problem. Of course I live in nice, dry Colorado instead of humid Florida.
     
  3. dbcraw

    dbcraw New Member

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    Location:
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    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    The dealer cleaned ours under warranty a couple months ago. If there's another problem, I'll see about calling then.
     
  4. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    2015 Prius
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    Two
    No problem with either my 2001 or my 2004 in southern CA. However I agree that a good number of posters (esp. those living in Florida) have complained about the issue.

    I attached an excerpt from the 2004 New Car Features manual (see p. BE-97), which indicates that the evaporator body has been coated with a resin containing anti-bacterial agent. I wonder if current production vehicles still have this treatment?
     

    Attached Files:

  5. taggart

    taggart Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Texas
    Vehicle:
    2008 Prius
    My 2008 does not have this problem (yet). I live in south central Texas, so I would expect it to happen to me if it is happening to drivers in Florida.

    I am going to keep my eyes on this thread and my nose open. I will most definitely call Toyota if and when this occurs.

    Good work and thanks for sharing it with us.
     
  6. galaxee

    galaxee mostly benevolent

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    warranty coverage is conditional.

    if the cabin air filter is in place and nothing has been tampered with (ie by rodents), the only contamination that could enter the system would be manufacturing related. it couldn't be a leaf or something that got in there.

    should be a warranty issue within the 3/36 period given the above conditions.

    the only prius DH saw with moldy a/c were related to exterior tampering- usually rodents. this is not uniquely toyota or uniquely prius. something gets in evaporator box to block up drainage, it's a great place for stuff to grow.
     
  7. Rest

    Rest Active Member

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    Location:
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    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    This issue isn't limited to the Prius. We have owned other vehicles that have had the same problem. I find that if we turn off the A/C before shutting the car off and run fresh air through the vents on a high fan speed, it helps.
     
  8. EJFB1029

    EJFB1029 New Member

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    Fairly common problem in humid areas, I live in exactly the same situation as Florida, but have not experienced that problem yet, knock on wood.

    Here is an interesting tidbit, GM fixed that problem by having the blower blow for a few minutes after shutting down the car. They also came out with a kit, the kit included a spray to kill mold and mildew on the evaporator, then a blower control box was added that turned the blower on for 2 minute intervals, a few times after shutdown.
     

    Attached Files:

  9. Hoopla

    Hoopla New Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Minneapolis
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    I have this problem in my 2007 Prius AND I had it with my 2000 Rav4. I used "Atmosklear" in the Rav and it took away the mold smell for awhile...
     
  10. Huntceet

    Huntceet Junior Member

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    Vehicle:
    2018 Prius
    Model:
    II
    Before I entered my semi-retirement I was a Lincoln/Mercury tech for 35 years. Ford~Lincoln/Mercury had a mold issue back in the early 90's. They issued a mold abatment kit to all dealers.
    This was the drill as best as I can recall. After making sure the evaporator case drain was clear. Run system on high heat/defrost for 30 minutes. Shut off. Reverse blower motor leads to make system blow backwards. Operate system and spray into the AC vents with an atomizer full of some mold killing stuff. Oh yeah, wear a cartridge filter mask while spraying. Next remove the blower resistor from the plenum case and spray some of the mold killer into the case. This would be putting it right onto the evaporator. Then the car would have to sit a number of hours while the stuff dried.
    I recall it worked pretty well if it was done properly. Their answer long term was to have all the foam inside the heater/evap case that held the heater core and evaporator manufactured with mold inhibiting material in it.

    Rod
     
  11. rumpledoll

    rumpledoll Member

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    Location:
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    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    V
    No issues with a 2007 Red Prius purchased in March 2007 and the summers here in NJ are humid.

    Philip
     
  12. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

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    Location:
    Clearwater, Florida
    Vehicle:
    2007 Prius
    Model:
    Two
    Excellent post! Thanks lot! I will call them in the morning. I agree 100% with everything you have posted. I've owned alot of cars and none of them stink like my 07. I love the car but it stinks. Everyone says run the blower after using the ac. That great if you do it from day one. But if any mold at all starts to grow nothing will fix it except Jaymans fix. And even then I would imagine its a routine maintenace issue. It would be no big deal if Toyota would have put an inspection plug in the plastic case that houses the e-coil. I would have no problem spraying some coil cleaner in that hole once in a while.Jayman drilled a hole in this case to spray down the e-coil with anti-fungal. A very radical fix that took some expertise to pull off.I also agree that this must be a design flaw.What I don't know.
    I'm curious....could the posters who say that the dealer fixed there problem please post what the dealer performed please?
     
  13. benw123

    benw123 Junior Member

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    2007 Prius
    Model:
    II
    Interesting - my recently-purchased 19,000-mile 06 Prius also has a bad case of smelly AC too, and yet our Audi A3 is approaching four years old and 34,000 miles and has never suffered from it, without much care taken to keep it clean either.
     
  14. patsparks

    patsparks An Aussie perspective

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    Sorry I haven't had this problem but I have noticed dirt sticks to the paint on the outside of the car which is disturbing. Sometimes I need to wash the outside of the car every 1 or 2 weeks!!

    Seriously I hope you find a solution to this problem.
    I don't understand what you are after with the poll, are you asking us to call Toyota, are you asking if we have the problem, or taking bets on whether you will call Toyota?
     
  15. lefat1

    lefat1 Fat Member

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    same problem from almost day 1, i will call that # ASAP...i voted dont think it will help, cause i still dont, but lets hope i'm wrong..
    recap, called and rep took info from me but said he was unaware of this concern and would forward this to my dealer for further evaluation...
     
  16. McDonald

    McDonald New Member

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    I don't think people should call unless they have this problem. Otherwise, it's just a lot of hearsay that Toyota won't listen to. But definitely call if you do have this problem!
     
  17. janku4u

    janku4u New Member

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    My '06 in northern California has this problem. I made the call. They recommended taking it to the dealer. We'll see what happens.
     
  18. lefat1

    lefat1 Fat Member

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    dealer called me but would not admit there was any reported problem. instead he told me that for $59.95 they have a kit that they use to flush the evaporator codensate line. apparently it is sprayed up the hose as a liquid and comes back out the hose as a foam with all the nasty stuff. he went on to tell me they recommend this yearly...i might try this myself, but as expected, i dont think toyota is going to make any concessions just yet.
     
  19. EJFB1029

    EJFB1029 New Member

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    Sounds like a load of BS he is telling you, any kind of spray stuff, needs to be sprayed on the Evaporator, otherwise spraying stuff up the hose is just going to reach the pan that holds condensation for the drain hose.
     
  20. sendconroymail

    sendconroymail One Mean SOB

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    It is possible to turn the heater on with the AC engaged. The system then blows out really hot air. I know when you heat up teflon it gives off some nasty fumes. Maybe that is why they cannot coat it in the confines of a car AC system?