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Hi, folks. I did a search and only found a thread discussing a mildew smell. Mildew doesn't smell like vinegar to me, so I'm posting a separate thread, assuming I'm not smelling mildew. For a couple weeks now, I'm getting blasted in the face with an odor when I start my car. It smells just like plain white vinegar. Just bought it at the end of April and it has about 7k miles (road trip) on it. Anyone experience this?
 

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Did you eat fish-n-chips in there? Mine has a mild carne asada burrito smell, but I can account for that.... ha. No idea, but I am curious....
 

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Hi the vinegar smell can come from some glass cleaning products use to degrease the screen.
The wash off of the products goes down screen into the air intake area for the air conditioning . If this area is not washed enough the product will accumulate there, no problem in rainy areas.
In tree lined areas leaves and debris collect in same area and compost contribute to mildew smell build up.
I find the anti freezing screen washes can be over powering in winter strengths.

Jeff
 

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Replace your cabin filter, bet the smell is gone..
 
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Yes, my 2016 Kia Soul has the same strong vinegar smell..I can't stand it and it is parked in a garage at night..I took it to the dealer and he said it was mildew.. doesn't smell like mold, it smells like strong vinegar!
 

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From a residential A/C site:

"Your air conditioner might emit all kinds of smells depending on its condition. The following are some of the most common odours people detect coming from their AC units, as well as some of the potential causes:

• Vinegar – When the air coming from your air conditioner smells sour, like vinegar, the problem could be from an electric motor that is emitting ozone. Other possible reasons could be excess condensation on the coils, a malfunctioning filter, a clogged condensate pan, or mold in the ductwork."

Suggest the drain be checked and cabin filter replaced and minimize running on recirculate
Do you have FATC with cluster ionizer?

 

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Like Doc says, minimize the use of recirc. Some folks have it on all the time. It eventually creates a terrarium effect in your car.
 

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Some folks have it on all the time.
I have always kept mine on recirc on every vehicle I've ever owned. I've even mechanically altered a few to force it to stay inside.
1. medical reasons
2. has never been an issue for me.
3. I normally have the temp ALL the way to one side.
I'm curious, my house is on recirc all the time, why recommend to people their car be open?
 

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I have always kept mine on recirc on every vehicle I've ever owned. I've even mechanically altered a few to force it to stay inside.
1. medical reasons
2. has never been an issue for me.
3. I normally have the temp ALL the way to one side.
I'm curious, my house is on recirc all the time, why recommend to people their car be open?
That's a good point manfreity. I really should have prefaced my comments with "depending on where you live."

In damp & cooler climates, like Canada, the Pacific NW and norther states, constant recirc in the winter months isn't a good thing. Just like a room in a basement that never gets fresh air, dampness & a mold film can occur.

If you live in a warmer, dry climate, that wouldn't be much of a problem.

In the Winter and Cold Weather: You don’t want to use Recirculated Air in the winter because it traps humidity inside the car, resulting in super foggy windows – not good! So when it’s cold outside, make sure that Recirculation is NOT selected. There are some that think it makes sense to not have “all that cold air coming in” if they are using the Fresh Air mode (It has an arrow going from outside to inside the car on most vehicles), but they need not worry. The Fresh Air mode forces the outside air through your heater core so it’s nice and toasty before it reaches you, and your windows will de-fog a lot quicker and stay that way while you drive. Fresh Air is your friend in the Winter!

World Class Autos
 
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In the sixties and seventies, I used to run A/C in max (recirculate mode) almost constantly.
Perhaps those vehicles were not 100% recirculate?...such as 1971 Chevelle Malibu?
If I do that with more recent vehicles, the air gets stuffy.
Wife or I will switch to recirculate behind a diesel truck with an injector pump timing issue, or drive through smoke, etc. then forget to switch to fresh until it becomes stuffy.
 

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In the sixties and seventies, I used to run A/C in max (recirculate mode) almost constantly.
Perhaps those vehicles were not 100% recirculate?...such as 1971 Chevelle Malibu?
If I do that with more recent vehicles, the air gets stuffy.
Wife or I will switch to recirculate behind a diesel truck with an injector pump timing issue, or drive through smoke, etc. then forget to switch to fresh until it becomes stuffy.
Same here Doc, I use recirc when a diesel or garbage truck, or more recently, vaping is going on in front of me.

Up here, if I accidentally leave recirc on, I'm reminded by a fog forming around the side window.
 

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Back to the vinegar smell:
If it is ozone, it should disipate quickly in frash air (default) mode.
I would not expect much O3 to be generated by only a 12 VDC motor.
Ozone is generated by electrical arcing, such as lightning.
Suppose it may be possible if motor brushes are worn and barely making contact with commutator on motor armature.
TenaciousBri and Oreo31:
Do your blower motors have a lot of hours on them?
Is smell present with fan off?
 

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I really should have prefaced my comments
No, not really, especially considering it's in the OM. The part about oxygen levels per cubic volume is genuine. Confined space consideration.
I do live in the North and we salt brine the winter, though I'm south of CAt. For me, once the windows are clear they stay that way unless I adjust the temperature. In my Sportage the transition from full ac to full heat would take a few trips because the cable was stuck, I literally never touched it except for the seasons. My Saturn sedan was the same way.
In the sixties and seventies, I used to run A/C in max (recirculate mode) almost constantly.
Perhaps those vehicles were not 100% recirculate?...such as 1971 Chevelle Malibu?
If I do that with more recent vehicles, the air gets stuffy
I do believe that is part of my story, even though it's set to inside there are enough unsealed areas it doesn't matter.
As for the OP topic, do you notice the odor all the time or only when trying to blend temperature? I find that if the AC is short cycling it creates just enough condensation to flash when the compressor kicks out.
If adjusting to full makes it go away almost instantly then it points back to the second part of sportster's post. On the other hand, if the motor is arcing enough for you to notice it might be a good idea to replace it.

Other possible reasons could be excess condensation on the coils, a malfunctioning filter, a clogged condensate pan, or mold in the ductw
 

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Do you have FATC with cluster ionizer?
While I do not have it in my car I do have an advanced version in home's ductwork. (O3 generator, two different UV wavelengths, two stage filtration system, minimum run-time thermostat, etc)
I mention it because I know some visitors notice the difference, not knowing why and sometimes not sure how to describe it.
 

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Hi, folks. I did a search and only found a thread discussing a mildew smell. Mildew doesn't smell like vinegar to me, so I'm posting a separate thread, assuming I'm not smelling mildew. For a couple weeks now, I'm getting blasted in the face with an odor when I start my car. It smells just like plain white vinegar. Just bought it at the end of April and it has about 7k miles (road trip) on it. Anyone experience this?
I have a 2017 Kia Soul and I am experiencing the exact same thing. I get a very strong sour vinegar smell when I first start my car, and it is coming out of the vents. It happens with the AC on AND off, so I'm not sure it's related to AC. It goes away after I have circulated outside air through the vents for several minutes. This happens EVERY time I start my car. It smells terrible. What is this?
 

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Thank you to SportsterDoc for reminding us all to read the fuddie duddie owner's manual.

@GeoSoul: In cold, moist situations, running the A/C and heat at the same time can work extremely well to quickly defog the insides of the vehicle.

For the same reasons that this trick works so well -- heating cold air causes it to expand and thus dry out -- one should probably avoid using the cabin air recirculation feature in those circumstances.

In passing vinegar is a great household cleaning agent. I would not drink it for COVID-19 but hey!, we all have our opinions. :cool:
 
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