ShareThis Page
Handle stinky air conditioning |

Handle stinky air conditioning

| Friday, September 30, 2016 11:00 p.m

Question: The air conditioning in our Equinox really stinks when I fire it up, though the smell does goes away after a few minutes. What can be done to fix this?

Answer: What you’re smelling is likely microbial growth on the air conditioning system’s evaporator core. When the air conditioner is in use, condensation forms on the surfaces of this cold, honeycomb-like device, which is located in a plastic housing deep within the instrument panel, creating a perfect environment for bacteria to flourish. Other possible causes for the odor include foreign debris (usually leaves) decomposing in the air intake system or a water leak that has saturated carpet or upholstery.

Some General Motors vehicles come with a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) after-blow function imbedded in the system software, which can be enabled for folks in high-humidity areas via skilled use of a pro-grade diagnostic scan tool. This function continues to run the HVAC blower fan for several minutes after vehicle shut-off, helping to dry off the evaporator surfaces. Drivers of all vehicles can employ a similar but more proactive strategy by selecting outside air (normal vs. recirculation) and shifting to vent with a high blower speed for the final five or more minutes of operation.

If the above doesn’t do the job, a professional disinfecting process may be needed. A home treatment may also be attempted with a can of Lysol.

With all windows down, the system set to vent and outside air, and blower set to high, spray perhaps a half can of Lysol into the air intake at the outside base of the windshield. You can determine which part of the plastic grille has the best suction by running a test with a sheet of paper. To play it safe, I’d lay an old beach towel over the instrument panel, somewhat muffling the vents and thereby avoiding the chance of traces of the cleaner reaching the upholstery. After finishing, you’ll want to let the vehicle air out for several hours before use.

Brad Bergholdt is an automotive technology instructor at Evergreen Valley College in San Jose, Calif.

Categories: Wire stories
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.