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Vinegar smell coming from AC Vents

17886 Views 23 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Lou O.
Hi All,

I have a KIA Sorento 2.4L Petrol 2014 FWD model (I purchased it in 2015 and its in Kuwait) .
The car has done 98000 KM and I changed the AC (Compressor and Evaporator both under warranty) at around 85000KM . Now when I switch on the blower a smell like vinegar is coming on and when the AC is turned on, the smell goes off. When I switch off the AC and if the blower is running the smell is back.

I took it to the service center and the cant find it out. Can anyone show some light into this issue? Is this a bacterial issue or something with the blower? Am sure that nothing has spilt on the dash from my side. No idea whether anything happened while the guys changed the AC.

Kind Regards

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Did it start immediately after the new AC compressor and evaporator was installed, or some time later?

If immediately after it could be that they used some kind of silicone sealant during the assembly, and would fade away soon.

If you use it constantly in re-circulation mode it's prone to grow fungus/algae.
No, It didn't start soon immediately after changing the Evaporator and Compressor. Started after around 3 months ..
Do you use it constantly in re-circulation mode?
Yes I Do. very rarely I switch it off..
That usually leads to mildew build-up on the evaporator, so good practice to turn it off for some times.

It could also be that the condensate drain is blocked.


Many thanks for the reply and its a new info for me. Will do as you guys say.
Okay, Now that we know you drive around in recirculation mode stop the habit.
Switch over to flow thru vent. Follow my Lysol procedure as described above and repeat weekly for one month. Report back to us in 4 weeks letting us know what occurred.
Hey LouO...

Many thanks for those valuable inputs.. Will do as instructed and keep you guys posted here.. Will take some time as going for a short vacation..

Seasons greetings to all out here folks..

Yeah, as others have confirmed, this is definitely caused by constantly running your system on recirc because it allows bacterial to grow. Whenever I get in someone else's car and I notice the smell, they always have the recirc permanently turned on. Those same people will also sometimes turn the system off entirely b/c of the smell or set the fan at the lowest setting which also makes it stagnate. For this reason, I never use recirc unless it is really necessary and my cars never get that smell.

Fortunately, it is relatively cool where you are this time of year. I would recommend also running fresh air with the A/C turned OFF entirely at a higher speed (doesn't need to be max speed, but close to it). This will also help speed up getting rid of the smell. Even if you don't bother to use Lysol, if you constantly run fresh air with no A/C, it will eventually get rid of the smell but will just take more time.

One last tip - when you do use A/C, at the end of your trip, I also recommend turning off A/C and just blasting fresh air at full speed through the system for about 30 seconds before you turn your car off. This will also help purge some of the moisture out of the system at the end.

Noted your valuable comments and I have already started to run my AC with recirc OFF.

Another thing to add up is that when i run just the fan with recirc off, the smell will come and it will go when I switch on the AC.

Hi All,

A very happy new year to you all. Sorry for the delay. As I said was on a vacation and came back now only.

As an update, since I started using the habit of driving with re circulation mode off, the smell never returned..

So I didn't tried the Lysol procedure. Anyways I have brought a pack of Lysol, so that I can try it if the smell returns..

Thanks one and all for your valuable piece of advice..

Meanwhile, i have completed my 100 K Service ( thought it was very costly) and the warranty is over now..

Thanks again.
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