4 Reasons Why Your Car’s Air Conditioning Smells Bad

Are you greeted by a foul odor every time you turn on your car's air conditioning? It could be that you simply have dirt or grime in your system. Or the bad smell could be a symptom of a more serious problem. Fortunately, the smell of the air can be a major clue to help you identify where the odor is coming from. Once you've identified the source of the issue, you can take steps to resolve it. Here are four common sources of air conditioning odor:

Mold and bacteria. It's not unusual for mold and bacteria to grow under your car's hood. This is especially true in the air conditioning unit because there's so much moisture running through the system. If your car sits unused for a long period of time, moisture could sit in the air conditioner and cause mold growth. Then when you start the car and turn on the air conditioning, a moldy or mildew smell comes out. A simple solution is to periodically run your car's fan without the air conditioner on. That will help moisture evaporate. If the smell persists, you could have a mechanic clean out your AC.

Fuel leak. If your air conditioner smells like gasoline, that should be a pretty big clue that you have a serious problem. You have a fuel leak somewhere in your vehicle. Gas is getting into the air around your car. The air conditioner is then pulling that air into the unit, cooling it, and pushing it into your car. In this case, there's nothing wrong with your AC, but there is a serious issue with your fuel line. You should get it checked out immediately.

Antifreeze leak. If your air conditioning smells sweet, it's likely from an antifreeze leak in your radiator or elsewhere in the car. The radiator and the AC are sometimes placed close to one another, so it's not out of the question that antifreeze could get into the air conditioning unit. Again, this has nothing to do with your air conditioner, but it is a big problem. If your radiator leaks too much antifreeze or coolant, then the car could overheat. Get it checked out immediately.

Dirty air filter. This is a common issue and among the easiest to fix. Just like the air conditioner in your home, your car's AC has a filter to remove dirt and pollutants from the air. When it gets dirty, pollutants are allowed to pass into your car. Sometimes, those pollutants can cause odor. The simple fix is to replace your air filter. If you don't know how to do that, you can have it done at nearly any automotive service location.

If none of these issues apply to your problem, you may want to have your car checked out by an auto AC repair specialist. He or she can find the cause of the problem and get it fixed.

For more information, contact Modern Auto Air or a similar company.