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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > BMW E90/E92/E93 3-series General Forums > Regional Forums > UK > UK Technical Forum > Smelly (like mould) E92 Aircon



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      07-25-2010, 06:39 AM   #1
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Smelly (like mould) E92 Aircon

I'm sure it's been covered, but couldn't find it in the search.

I've had the aircon cleaned twice now under warranty by my local dealer, the last time they told me that if the mouldy smell comes back I would have to pay for part of the dash to be removed to get at the "whatever it is" that's causing the smell.

I'd like to know if there is anything I can do to fix this myself? Is it a part that I can reach easily to clean, is there something I can squirt in to the aircon to clean the mould out? Or do I have to pay or put up with this problem?

It's a really embarrassing issue to affect a 35k car to be honest, I bet if I got in to a 10k Ford Focus I wouldn't have this terrible smell....

The car is 2.5yrs old, 29k miles if that helps diagnose the issue. Generally used for 49 mile round trips to work, aircon is always on, 18C both sides.
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      07-25-2010, 06:45 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coopersim View Post
I'm sure it's been covered, but couldn't find it in the search.

I've had the aircon cleaned twice now under warranty by my local dealer, the last time they told me that if the mouldy smell comes back I would have to pay for part of the dash to be removed to get at the "whatever it is" that's causing the smell.

I'd like to know if there is anything I can do to fix this myself? Is it a part that I can reach easily to clean, is there something I can squirt in to the aircon to clean the mould out? Or do I have to pay or put up with this problem?

It's a really embarrassing issue to affect a 35k car to be honest, I bet if I got in to a 10k Ford Focus I wouldn't have this terrible smell....

The car is 2.5yrs old, 29k miles if that helps diagnose the issue. Generally used for 49 mile round trips to work, aircon is always on, 18C both sides.
Have you tried turning the aircon off few minutes before arriving at your destination ? or once you arrive at your destination, turn the aircon off and let your engine idle for few minutes before turning it off. Also, is the car parked underneath a tree ?
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      07-25-2010, 06:51 AM   #3
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I've tried running it off for a few mins, and also tried running the A/C off and the heat up to the max (hoping to dry off the mould) all to no avail I'm afraid, the stench always returns...
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      07-25-2010, 06:52 AM   #4
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Forgot to say, no trees in sight, I've been through the whole tree sap / bird crap issue before, and my car has the scars to prove just how poor BMW's paint really is.... That's a whole other story!
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      07-25-2010, 08:12 AM   #5
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Have you tried one of the aircon cleaners? On the shelf in Halfrauds for about a tenner, you set it off in the car, set the AC to recirc on max, and leave it till it's done. It disinfects and cleans the system.

Depending where your mould is, it might just help.
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      07-25-2010, 08:45 AM   #6
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Thanks for the suggestion. I did try that on my mother in laws ML a couple of years back and it didn't make a difference, but it might just be worth a go for that kind of money

But what I'd really like to do is get my hands on the part that has the mould growing in it, and soak it in some disinfectant, do you think that will be possible? Or is this part buried deep in the dash where I can't get at it?
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      07-25-2010, 09:16 AM   #7
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Just found this: http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/att...9&d=1270559575

But I don't have access to this machine, so looks like the only way is to remotely clean this part, and not physically access the part that needs cleaning?
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      07-25-2010, 09:57 AM   #8
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My car has suffered with a musty smell from the aircon since I bought it used last August. Its been 'sorted' twice by the dealer under warranty stating that they disinfected the system. In essense the service manager told me they haven't even touched the system, they just put a can of disinfectant fogg spray in the car, let it off with the engine and aircon running and they leave it for 20 minutes. However, this only works for about a week as its masks the smell rather than removes it.

However, I have recently had a common fault on my aircon repaired recently were they removed the whole dash and replaced the evaporator as it was effectively rusting and blowing white powder out at me. Despite them cleaning the whole system, including draining the condensor and removing any stagnant water the system still smells pungent although just not as bad.

The system has been full recharged too so it cools quicker and feels a lot colder when on than it did before but the smell hasn't gone.

You may just need to buy a tin of air freshner, place it under the seats and hope for the best after you've fogged it.
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      07-25-2010, 10:12 AM   #9
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I might try that, then I might go for the drill a hole in the evaporater casing and try disinfecting it manually.

What I've also noticed is that my wife's E90 leaves pools of water on the drive from her aircon, whereas mine never has, could the drain holes be blocked? If so, where do they exit the car so I can have a go at cleaning them.

I'm loathed to let the dealers fog it again, as you say, it's a very short term "fix" to this problem.
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      07-25-2010, 12:20 PM   #10
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I noticed today little white powder blowing from vents when ac is on.
Amount of white powder very small, i know it is dash out job, but I have special chemical which we use at work to clean evaporators calls "chill spray", and it does very good job, cleans evaporators, prevents mould growing.
Question, how can I access to my e90 evaporators? Is any way I can spray it from engine bay or dash still need come off?
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      07-25-2010, 12:27 PM   #11
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Pound stretcher were doing the air con fogg spray thing for a few quid, worked well on a friends Seat I must say.
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      07-25-2010, 01:33 PM   #12
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OP - The only way to properly dry the system is to leave your air con off for about a week or more and make sure you do a lot of miles.

As soon as you run the cooling, the evaporator will be producing condensate in the ducts. Could be a clue that yours isn't leaving puddles on the drive.....
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      07-25-2010, 04:06 PM   #13
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I have to use the spray cleaner stuff about once a year to keep the smell away. Works fine for me.
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      07-26-2010, 02:44 AM   #14
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I bet your drain is blocked. Thats the most common cause of smelly aircon. Chances are its got kinked during build.

After you have run your aircon can you see water come out of the drain under the car?
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      07-26-2010, 03:26 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElegantSpoon View Post
I bet your drain is blocked. Thats the most common cause of smelly aircon. Chances are its got kinked during build.

After you have run your aircon can you see water come out of the drain under the car?

Quote:
Originally Posted by coopersim View Post

What I've also noticed is that my wife's E90 leaves pools of water on the drive from her aircon, whereas mine never has, could the drain holes be blocked? If so, where do they exit the car so I can have a go at cleaning them.
Bingo.
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      07-26-2010, 04:49 AM   #16
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Sounds like a blocked drain...thats why you have the smell too because the condensate isnt getting away and it could be slowly leaking out over the drip tray and onto the carpet/sound proofing under the centre console...can you imagine what a few months stagnant water smells like when it keeps getting warmed up and cooled down with air forced across it into the cabin! If I do a short trip to town and home even after 15 mins you can see the condomsation drip from the car...and your saying you have not seen any?

SteveF1 has said he needed a new evaporator as it strarted to rust...its possible yours has started this too and bits of the rust/corrosion have blocked the drain pipe...its a wild guess but could happen!
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      07-26-2010, 11:39 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rup View Post
I have to use the spray cleaner stuff about once a year to keep the smell away. Works fine for me.
Did try that 2 months ago, and i nearly had a heart attack.

As soon as i finished sparying the stuff directly in the a/c vents as it was advised by the manufacturer, the radio display went crazy, started changing stations on its own, volume was not working, plus all the dashboard lights were flashing including the check engine lights, power steering fault etc..

Decided to let the car in the sun, fot the rest of tha day, besides i was so scared to try and start the engine. Did find the courage to give it a try the day after and everything went back to normal thank God...
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      07-01-2013, 05:45 AM   #18
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Air con smell help?

Ok, kind of reopening this thread for a bit of advice.

Had car for 4 months and from the word go the air con has had the musty mouldy smell.

Symptom:

I noticed that the smell only occurs after using the 'cooling function'. Almost immediately after switching the 'cooling function' off the air con would have a horrible smell for a period of time but would gradually disappear over a few days if the 'cooling function' is not reused.

I was also getting a fair amount of white dusty flakes coming through the air vents which now after four months seem to have eased off but still come through on fast blower settings.

Action Taken:

1. Can of Comma spray from halfords ran through the system with the recycle option on without engine running. Seemed to work for a week or so then problem returned when using the 'cooling function' then switching it off.

2. Can of Comma spray ran through the system this time with the auto recycle option on and the engine running. Made no difference at all.

3. Changed pollen filter (which was in a sorry state of affairs) made no difference.

Best impractical fix:

Once the smell has gone under normal operation (no cooling function used) it doesn't seem to come back. Just don't use the 'cooling function'.

Not the best way to run an aircon system it is BMW? especially on a hot day or if the windows have heavy condensation.

I suspect that due to the nature of the cars life before I picked it up (20,000 miles over 6 years) this has probably allowed a fair amount of crap to built up on the internal system (evaporator etc). Will speak to the dealer as it is under warranty but I presume this could be a dash out job to replace the internal parts?
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      07-01-2013, 06:10 AM   #19
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I'd appreciate it if you could update this thread once you have spoken to your dealer. My air con is smelly, and worse than that the moisture the A/C takes out of the air isn't getting away and instead is being spewed back into the cabin and condensing on the windows. Hopefully I will be able to clear it from below once I get the car on a ramp.

I'm genuinely surprised that BMW's seem to have such a commonly occurring problem with smelly air con and that the design flaw hasn't been rectified. Having to take the dash out to access potential problem areas is just ridiculous.
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      07-01-2013, 07:40 AM   #20
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Vinyldj - cooling should be left on all the time, all year. It's not the 1980's any more with old innefficient compressors, the system works best on AUTO with the snowflake ON at all times.

Then on cold days the system will turn off the cooling if its not needed, so you don't need to do it yourself. Even on average days, the cooling runs at a low level to dry the air and the car, with warm air being added to warm the cabin.

Switching it on and off all the time is just making it worse with the evaporator cooling madly at max power and then off again going warm and getting more smelly, just leave it on. Mould can't form on a freezing evaporator, only a damp warm one, so leave cooling ON!

It's called 'Automatic Climate Control' for a reason, yep it 'Automatically' regulates the cooling and heating on its own without interference if you let it.


The white flakes are aluminium oxide powder coming from a dodgy batch of evaporators fitted a few years back, I recall these were changed FOC during warranty, a BIG job.


No.1 cause for these smells seems to be a blocked condensate drain.

Park your car with the aircon on auto, snowflake on, and temp set to 16 (max cool) engine has to be running else cooling doesn't work.

After a few minutes there should be drips and a pool of water forming under the car, about just under the centre console area.

If this isn't happening then your drain is blocked and the system is backing up with stagnant mouldy water.
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      07-01-2013, 07:49 AM   #21
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Is the best way to clean the drain with a flexible cable or with a blast of air? From my limited access underneath at the car at the weekend there did appear to be at least one connector in the drain which presumably would allow some separation for cleaning purpose.
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      07-01-2013, 09:41 AM   #22
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My cabin air is a bit stinky and humid after turning air con off too. Trip to the dealers I think then.
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