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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 2012 Exclaim with 4000 miles on it. I am thrilled with the car, except for one thing. When the car sits for around an hour or more or first thing in the morning I get a mildew odor out of the a/c. I've had it to the dealer twice and they have done whatever clean out that they do on the intake and something else (sorry, playing the girl card here :confused:) but the odor persists. The service manager says he's going to call Kia to see what they suggest. I've heard of (smelled) this in older cars, but not a brand new one. I live in South Florida, so not using the a/c is not an option. :D
 

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I had a Neon that had this problem. My fix was to turn off the a/c and run outside air through the vents for the last minute of any trip. This allows the evaporator coil to dry out. No moisture = no mildew or mold growth. The TSB fix was to spray cans of cleaner into the cabin air intake with the fan on high to try to clean the coil.
 

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when you use the a/c are you avoiding using the recirculation mode? Have you checked the cabin air filter?

There is also a TSB on this but I presume this is what the dealer tried.
sorry Tom, was working on this when you posted your info which relates to this TSB.
 

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I work on large commercial air conditioning systems and that "mildew smell" is quite common. Especially in high humidity environments (like Florida). It may be annoying, but it is rarely harmful. You simply have to try to kill off the microbiological bacteria that cause the odor, or learn to live with it. The first thing you ought to do is change the filter. You must remove the glove box and behind it is the access port for the evaporator filter. Make sure it is clean, and spray it with Lysol before repacing it... even if clean. There are a few natural mold and bacteria killers out there but the one I prefer is tea tree oil. (Oil of Oregano is even better for killing germs but stinks like pizza).
Mix a few drops with water and spray the filter down.
Before replacing the filter you could spray some Lysol in the filter access, or into the fresh air intake while running the fan. This should draw the Lysol into the coils and help some. The mildew starts in the cool wet coil fins or pan area and unless you really dry it out and use a bacticide it will stay and recreate itself pretty much forever. That is why you want to clean it out and sanitize first...and then use the tea tree oil(or other biocide) to help keep it smelling good while also naturally killing anything passing through the filter. Beware bleach or anything corrosive that can ruin the coil surfaces.
Also make sure the drain is clear and you aren't pooling water (condensate) in the evap area.
The dealer will probably recommend a foam antiseptic solution and spray it into the coils as best they can. Sometimes it works...sometimes it takes a few tries to get all the bugs.
To help keep it from re-forming, try running the air (fan) on high, witht the A/C off, just before you turn the car off after using. The more dry those coils stay...the better.
Good luck with it. You're not alone....
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The filter is/was clean when it was checked on Wed. The car only has 4K miles. I guess I'm frustrated because the car is so new and I don't feel like I should be having issues like this. If I wanted a car that smelled old, I would have kept my 12 year old CR-V. :(
 

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SShayler - given the right conditions this can happen on any vehicle, regardless of age. But now you know how to eliminate it and avoid it in the future.
 

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My wife had this problem with her 2012 at ± 4000 miles. I pulled the cabin air filter and it had a lot of Oak tree crap on it. I also told her to run the A/C without recirculate when the weather permits.
 

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My wife had this problem with her 2012 at ± 4000 miles. I pulled the cabin air filter and it had a lot of Oak tree crap on it. I also told her to run the A/C without recirculate when the weather permits.
recirculated air should not be on most of the time, there is warning in your manual about this. It can cause drowsiness or sleepiness and will allow humidity to increase inside vehicle which could fog the glass and obscure visibility also the air within the vehicle will become stale and also excessively dry air.
Just use in recirculate to get the vehicle cold more quickly (hence the reason it turns on when you set it to MAX A/C) but once that is achieved shut it off to get in outside air after that.
 

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Everyone is assuming that the AC evaporator is the source. That might not be the case. The AC may merely be CIRCULATING (blowing) a smell generated some other way. Examples of other sources could be:

- The drain hose for the AC condensate is blocked by road mud or by misrouting at the factory. This creates a nice "swamp" within the chassis
- There is something under the hood that is catching rainwater or road spray, and retaining it
- There is a rainwater leak into the actual interior of the vehicle (under or in front of dash, around doors or lift gate, or around a window seal), and the AC system is picking up smelly itnerior air and blowing it, leading you to think it is the AC system

At a minimum, have a technican check that the AC condensate drain line is not obstructed.

Jim G
 

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recirculated air should not be on most of the time, there is warning in your manual about this. It can cause drowsiness or sleepiness and will allow humidity to increase inside vehicle which could fog the glass and obscure visibility also the air within the vehicle will become stale and also excessively dry air.
Just use in recirculate to get the vehicle cold more quickly (hence the reason it turns on when you set it to MAX A/C) but once that is achieved shut it off to get in outside air after that.
I agree that recirculate should not be used when the heater or vent is on, but it is fine to use when the A/C is on. It makes the A/C work less hard (you are cooling air that has already been cooled), and the cooled air will naturally have less humidity. But I always try to remember to turn off the A/C for the last couple of minutes of the trip in order to let the evaporator warm up a bit and start drying off to avoid funky-smelling fungi.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Well it's back at the dealer again. I've tried all the suggestions here as well as a few others I've found online. It went in on Tuesday for a supposed "2 hour service" and they gave me a loaner. By Wednesday afternoon when I didn't hear from them I called to find out what the heck was going on, and was told that the car wouldn't be ready until Friday or Monday!??? I mean I have no idea what they could be doing that could take 6 days....really.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Ok so now at close of business on Tues my car is is still not ready. They've had it 7 days now. It was supposedly "being put back together right now" at noon today. They supposedly have now replaced the evaporator box in it. I'm so frustrated to not have my car back.

On a side note, they gave me a 2012 Forte as a loaner and I have to say that I hate it. I'm 52 and this reminds me of a Grandma car. I can't wait to give it back and get my Soul! back!
 

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We have a 2012 Soul. Anyone else getting sick from the toxic chemicals in the interior?

"The best new vehicles for your health include Honda Civic and Toyota Prius. The worst – Mitsubishi Outlander and Kia Soul. Those vehicles contained upwards of 275 different chemicals in plastics and other materials."
 

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I agree that recirculate should not be used when the heater or vent is on, but it is fine to use when the A/C is on. It makes the A/C work less hard (you are cooling air that has already been cooled), and the cooled air will naturally have less humidity. But I always try to remember to turn off the A/C for the last couple of minutes of the trip in order to let the evaporator warm up a bit and start drying off to avoid funky-smelling fungi.
I do that too. It can't hurt and likely helps.

We have a 2012 Soul. Anyone else getting sick from the toxic chemicals in the interior?

"The best new vehicles for your health include Honda Civic and Toyota Prius. The worst – Mitsubishi Outlander and Kia Soul. Those vehicles contained upwards of 275 different chemicals in plastics and other materials."
I know some folks who bought Chrysler 200s and Dodge Avengers got re-upholstery jobs out of Chrysler because of the horrid stink.

My 200 stank terribly. Worse, the fumes gave me splitting base-of-skull headaches that no Tylenol or Excedrin would touch.

I read about the re-upholstery jobs after I'd had the car for a while. I left windows open and a box fan on in the garage to air the thing out.
 

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Not to but in ,I live in north fl heat and humid,I to had a bad smell after a few months.I tried the non rec,and the rec,what I found at 5K was a dirty cabin air filter,I always run my ac on rec,so I was surprised.Replaced the filter with a oem,the new car smell is there again...From now on,I will treat my kia like a home ac,replace on a schedule other than what the manual has in it.
 

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With a brand new car that's been changed from previous years, After Market parts manufacturers are not up to speed yet, providing us with great after market parts.

I ran into this with Sylvania on the replacement headlight bulbs. On response to my query, they said that they have not received the spec's for the headlight bulbs from Kia.

I wonder if that doesn't carry over to the Cabin Air Cleaner too. :think

On my 2009 SX4, the cabin air cleaner was the same from 2007 to 2009. I bought a FRAM Fresh Breeze Cabin Air Filter for my 2009 SX4 and never had foul smelling air in my car.


It doesn't take a rocket scientist to tell the difference between the cheap paper (OEM) filter and the Fresh Breeze filter.

The Fresh Breeze is impregnated with both charcoal and baking soda, for the freshest possible air.

I cleaned out my Cabin Air Filter every time I changed my oil and did my bumper to bumper maintenance.
After one year and many cleanings, I replaced the cabin air filter with a new one.

I never did have a problem with a plugged drain hose or stuff growing in my evaporator coils. Dumb luck, I guess, because I do live in FL.

Cheers Mates!
TM :cool:
 
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