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AC smells like stale water

Discussion in '3rd Gen. Tacomas (2016+)' started by Cookieman28, Nov 13, 2019.

  1. Nov 13, 2019 at 3:30 PM
    #1
    Cookieman28

    Cookieman28 [OP] Member

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    Every time I turn the air conditioning on it smells like old stale water for about 5 min. I live in FL so not sure if the humidity and heat is the culprit. What do I do to fix it?
     
  2. Nov 13, 2019 at 3:36 PM
    #2
    TacoTruck808

    TacoTruck808 Well-Known Member

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    Oahu in the Aloha State!
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    I have tried the Evaporator cleaner that Toyota sells, Lysol, placing Baking Soda in the carpets and in a bucket, bamboo charcoal bags and I still cant get rid of that frikin smell. I am at a lost on what else I can do also.
     
  3. Nov 13, 2019 at 3:43 PM
    #3
    themovielifedc

    themovielifedc Well-Known Member

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    Cabin air filter may need to be replaced
     
  4. Nov 13, 2019 at 3:44 PM
    #4
    TacoTruck808

    TacoTruck808 Well-Known Member

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    did that twice, once with a plain filter, the second time with a carbon filter, same results. And this was within a year.
     
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  5. Nov 13, 2019 at 3:46 PM
    #5
    TacoTruck808

    TacoTruck808 Well-Known Member

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    I had run it on high heat for 30min, turned the AC off a few miles before reaching my destination, all same results.
     
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  6. Nov 13, 2019 at 3:48 PM
    #6
    Cookieman28

    Cookieman28 [OP] Member

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    I did. No change.
     
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  7. Nov 13, 2019 at 3:57 PM
    #7
    Hooper89

    Hooper89 Well-Known Member

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    Dunno about stale water but mine smells like my 1997 Camry did. I call it the Toyota Smell.
     
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  8. Nov 13, 2019 at 3:58 PM
    #8
    Tacospike

    Tacospike Semi-Unknown Custodial Member

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    wait

    stale water*
     
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  9. Nov 13, 2019 at 4:00 PM
    #9
    bshammer0

    bshammer0 Well-Known Member

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    I know it was mentioned above, but this stuff does really work well if used properly per the directions. But, our A/C sucks at creating an environment for mold and mildew unfortunately. Really poor design based on my experience. My truck's A/C smelled like dead animals (no dead animals were present in my A/C system....) after less than 6 months of ownership. I tried a lot of different things that didn't work well, but this does work - but you'll have to plan to do it 2-3 times a year to keep it clean.

    Also - I've learned to rarely have the A/C on recirculate... it won't get that smell if you have fresh air blowing through there to keep the condenser ventilated. If it's super hot and you have to have it on recirc b/c the outside air is so hot it minimizes the cooling ability of the truck, at least try to turn off recirc a few minutes before you reach your destination to clear out the condensation in your vents and whatnot.

    You'll never get rid of it entirely though in my experience. Lot's of maintenance and keeping the recirc off is all I've found to work but my truck doesn't stink anymore so that's something...

    https://www.amazon.com/GENUINE-APPR...PAD6BS3BT44&psc=1&refRID=KM51BTDT0PAD6BS3BT44
     
  10. Nov 13, 2019 at 4:21 PM
    #10
    Cookieman28

    Cookieman28 [OP] Member

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    Thanks. I’ll give it a try.
     
  11. Nov 14, 2019 at 8:30 PM
    #11
    wahoobie

    wahoobie Taco Uno

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    I can attest, it worked for me and the problem cleared up. If it comes back next summer (and it certainly may at some point) I will just clean it all again with a new kit. Worked great!
     
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  12. Nov 14, 2019 at 8:37 PM
    #12
    gotoman1969

    gotoman1969 Well-Known Member

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    Once you get it cleaned. Always and mean always, do not just turn ac off when you get where your going. Turn ac off prior to getting to location put fan on high, put knob on fresh air do not leave on recirculated. Let it blow till air is outside temp air. I’ve been doing this for 35 years and 4 Toyota’s later including my current 2015 and none of my ac have ever had that musty odor.
     
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  13. Nov 14, 2019 at 8:53 PM
    #13
    Ronzio

    Ronzio Well-Known Member

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  14. Nov 14, 2019 at 9:14 PM
    #14
    calebc

    calebc Well-Known Member

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    Even if you don't do this whole ordeal, the biggest thing is don't leave it on recirculating. I took my 2014 back to the dealer because it stunk so bad. They said to put some kind of disinfectant in the ac intake and vents, the cabin filter was still in perfect shape, but most important is use the recirculating as little as possible. I've stuck by not using the recirculating with that Tacoma, 2 Tundras, a 4Runner, and now I have another 2020 Tacoma and so far it's entirely eliminated the smell. The annoying part is even if you turn recirculating off, next time you turn the truck on again, it's back on recirculating. So you need to consciously turn it off.
     
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  15. Nov 14, 2019 at 10:31 PM
    #15
    TacoTruck808

    TacoTruck808 Well-Known Member

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    I believe the recirculating auto on is a setting that can be changed via Techstream. You may be able to have the dealer change it so it stays off.
     
  16. Nov 14, 2019 at 10:53 PM
    #16
    mikmabz

    mikmabz Well-Known Member

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  17. Nov 14, 2019 at 11:11 PM
    #17
    Boosted_Carrera

    Boosted_Carrera Well-Known Member

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    What I do and I mean always is when I use the AC and before shutting off engine I turn off the AC and recirculating then turn on high heat and full fan for a minute. It'll dry out the vents and not leave it wet for mold and mildew to grow. Never had a problem doing this.
    In Hawaii most days are hot and humid, even evenings. If you run the AC and turn it off, you'll get a lot of moisture around the vents. Just turning it off before heading home isn't long enough.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2019
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  18. Nov 15, 2019 at 6:23 AM
    #18
    Sungod

    Sungod Well-Known Member

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    Start by making sure your drain isn't clogged. That can cause your problem by having water stagnating around your evaporator.

    No need to buy fancy over priced products. Get a can of Generic Lysol from Publix. Turn you AC on and the fan to high. Turn off recirculate and spray half the can in the intake. Put it on recirculate and spray the other half in the inside intake. Let it run for 10 minutes and you should be fresh.
     
  19. Nov 15, 2019 at 6:58 AM
    #19
    2019tacosr5

    2019tacosr5 Well-Known Member

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    My taco doesn’t have a musty smell yet, but it’s only got 8k on it. My GTI on the other hand smells like moldy chocolate. Do what was said above, run the heat for a little bit before you stop to dry everything out.
     
  20. Nov 15, 2019 at 7:30 AM
    #20
    choose for me

    choose for me Not Sure

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    I agree with what others have said. Turning off the recirculation is key for me, as well as not running max a/c. I also live in Florida near the beach, so it's always humid, and both my truck and wife's car (Mazda 3) have experienced this issue. I took corrective measures, and my air is fine. My wife doesn't follow my advice, and her a/c smells, but it's still my fault, and I need to fix it.
     
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