Car Aircon Smells: How to Fix Stale, Damp & Musty Aircon

In warmer weather, your car’s air con can feel like a lifesaver. But what if, along with the cool and refreshing air, your car aircon also blasts out something nasty – a stale, damp, or musty smell?

You can’t clean the system physically, but there are a few things you can do to get rid of that awful car aircon smell.

Why Does My Car Aircon Smell?

Has your aircon started smelling like urine, vinegar, or eggs? These horrible car aircon smells develop when too much mould and bacteria builds up in the system.

How Does Aircon Work?

Do you know how aircons produce cold air? It’s through removing the heat and the moisture from the air outside your car using a system of coils. These coils are cold, but when you run your AC, they’re constantly surrounded by hot air.

This creates moisture pockets, which can eventually develop into small pools of water. Your car’s air con system can drain most of this water. But sometimes moisture can get locked in the system.

Aircon Smells Stale, Damp & Musty

And when your system’s constantly damp, you’re eventually going to get some mould and bacteria. These microorganisms just love damp and dark areas. So the longer you leave it, the more they’ll grow, and the worse your aircon will smell.

How to Fix Stale, Damp & Musty Aircon

Whether you have been driving for a while or are a young driver it’s good to learn how to fix some basic car issues.

There are a few things you can try if your air con is smelling:

  • Change your filters. Check your car’s manual for instructions on how to access and change your car’s pollen and air filters. The manual will also let you know how often you should do this, to avoid further problems in the future.
  • Dry the aircon system. Turn off your aircon, but leave the fan running. Do this for up to five minutes after every time you use your aircon, and you could dry your components, making it less likely that mould and bacteria will take hold.
  • Go antiseptic. Locate your car’s exterior air vents – the points at which your car pulls air from the outside for cooling. Turn your aircon to the appropriate setting, then spray some antiseptic into the exterior vents. This could pull the antiseptic into the system, where it can get to work at killing any nasty bacteria and mould.
  • Book your car in for a service. A trained mechanic can first check your car’s aircon draining system, to ensure it’s working like it should. They can also service your system, and they may even be able to replace your aircon components with antimicrobial materials, to prevent bacteria and mould from ever building up again.

Hopefully, your bad aircon smells are a quick fix. But if mould and bacteria has started building up in your system, then it’s a sign that your car’s getting old. A musty aircon could be just one of many problems you’ll ultimately have to address.

This is why it’s important to get regular services for your car. That way, you can fix any emerging issues long before they become problems. And if anything ever does go seriously wrong with your car, comprehensive insurance with breakdown cover will ensure you’re never left high and dry.


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