Friday, April 17, 2015

AC Foul Smell Removal

So for as long as I can remember the Prius has always produced this nasty-ass smell during summers whenever the AC compressor was turned on. I've ignored it for a few years now, but on one random day I decided to research this topic and the following is what I found out.

It turns out that there's an evaporator coil that is located deep inside the console, near the firewall where all the HVAC stuff resides. This coil area can grow mold and other bacteria, but it mainly occurs in humid environments. Since this car originally came from Ohio, that equals humid. The remedy is to buy a foaming cleaner and inject it through the AC evaporator drain hose that is found on the bottom of the car. This is also the same hole that produces that puddle of water during summers. So yeah the foam travels up into the coil housing, envelops the whole area, kills off the bad shit, then everything just drains out of the same hole.

So the actual item from Toyota that you want is this: AC Refresher Kit - A/C Power Foam Evaportator Cleaner & Refresher Model: 00289-ACRKT. Bad thing is that it's listed as discontinued on many websites and when I went to the service counter to try to buy it directly, the Toyota guy was an asshole and said they didn't have any (without even looking up the model number). Yeah this is the same crap-ass dealership that I had problems with in the past so what can you expect, right? Anyway if you can find it at your local Toyota or Lexus dealership consider yourself lucky. Any of the OEM places online cost around $15-20 to ship it because it's considered a hazardous item. That pretty much doubles the price of the item to get it to your door; not really worth it. If you can find it locally and pay only tax then you should be kosher, but if not, just get a similar item online.

Since I was unable to find the exact item I wanted, I was relegated to look through Amazon and I ended up buying this: 1Z Klima-Cleaner Professional Air Conditioner Cleaner.

To take care of business this is all you have to do. (Note that this is what I did, so I dunno if I did it right or not.) I parked the car on ramps, made sure to run the car with the lowest temperature setting, AC on, external air, fans pointing to body and legs, then I shut off the car. Under the car wander over to the passenger side tire, look towards the center of the car about 1.5 to 2 feet and right around there give/take is the location of the drain tube, up 1 foot or so. The picture at the top of this page shows what the tube looks like. You have to move your head up and look around in order to see the tube, but after you know where it is, your hands can do the rest. Note that you don't need to remove the plastic shielding in order to get to said tube.

The next step is to get a drip pan ready, get the foaming cleaner ready, shove the smaller hose that comes with the cleaner way up into the tube until you run out of hose, shake the can, then proceed to depress. When I did it at first, a good amount of foam actually came out of the tube immediately. Turns out that I didn't push the hose far enough up. Anyway, keep on depressing the can, shaking it, and trying your best to keep all foam from escaping the tube. After the can is empty, pull the hose out and then put the drip pan underneath. This next step is pseudo optional. The foaming cleaner will clean the coil and that is all that I heard is really necessary, but I opted to also spray a ton of lysol through the fan intake vent near the windshield on the passenger side. You can see this vent when you lift the hood.

So yeah for this step I turned on the car, made sure that all settings were still A-OK with the AC on and stuff, and then I maxed out the fan. I kept on spraying the intake with Lysol while toggling through the fan direction settings (body, body/feet, feet/defroster, feet). I think I cleared out half of the Lysol can, and during this time a bunch of the foaming cleaner turned into liquid and drained out. The color of the liquid was nasty but not super bad...just a little bit of brown with a dash of green.

So yeah that's about it. It took a few days to get the lemon chemical/Lysol smell out of the car, but I'm waiting for the temp to heat back up so I can test out the AC this summer. If the smell comes back I'll probably buy a different foaming cleaner to see if it works any better for round 2, but for now it "seems" to have worked.

Update 1: It seems as though the cleaner didn't fully work. It's deep in summer now and the smell is back. If you toggle between AC being off/on and if you come back from your car being off for a while, the odor will manifest itself. I'll try a different brand and see if that helps resolve it.