sriram
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2020 9:25 am
Delivery Date: 03 Jul 2020
Leaf Number: 321850

sour odor when new Leaf starts

Sat Oct 10, 2020 9:57 pm

Hello!

Very happy to have found this forum!

I am the proud owner of a Nissan Leaf SL+ that I purchased new on July 3, 2020. It has about 1500 miles on it now.
I am hoping someone can advise me about a peculiar problem.
For the last 2 or 3 weeks I have noticed a strong sour odor, like Vinegar, coming through the heating/cooling vents. The odor is not there when the engine is off. The car interior is perfectly fine before I start the car but as soon as I do so, the smell starts. I have sprayed the interior with a deodorant spray to make sure that it is clean and odor-free. I am wondering if there is some kind of leak in the engine or A/C area?

Thanks very much in advance for any advice and suggestions. FYI I am in Phoenix, AZ.

LeftieBiker
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Re: sour odor when new Leaf starts

Sat Oct 10, 2020 10:15 pm

Condensation can form in the A/C and grow mold - especially if you use Recirculate all of the time.
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Oilpan4
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Leaf Number: 004270

Re: sour odor when new Leaf starts

Sun Oct 11, 2020 11:50 pm

Cats peeing on the windshield vent area, but I would hope not.
But it's probably A/C evaporator box related.
I do know it's been raining a lot in Virginia.

cwerdna
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Re: sour odor when new Leaf starts

Mon Oct 12, 2020 12:14 am

Ouch. That sucks. I recall hearing of the prob back on 350Z's as a co-worker's (WAY back then) 03 Z had that problem. Google for site:my350z.com dirty sock smell. I recall the dealer had to use Frigi-Fresh on the evaporator to help resolve it.

I'd be surprised about mold given how crazy hot and dry it is over in Phoenix but that's just me...

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Please don't PM me with Leaf questions. Just post in the topic that seems most appropriate.

sriram
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2020 9:25 am
Delivery Date: 03 Jul 2020
Leaf Number: 321850

Re: sour odor when new Leaf starts

Mon Oct 12, 2020 7:28 pm

cwerdna wrote:
Mon Oct 12, 2020 12:14 am
Ouch. That sucks. I recall hearing of the prob back on 350Z's as a co-worker's (WAY back then) 03 Z had that problem. Google for site:my350z.com dirty sock smell. I recall the dealer had to use Frigi-Fresh on the evaporator to help resolve it.

I'd be surprised about mold given how crazy hot and dry it is over in Phoenix but that's just me...
Thanks very much. It cant be mold in Phoenix. Cats also not because it is in a basement garage.

will check out the my350z.com.

gncndad
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Delivery Date: 23 Feb 2016
Location: Ft. Worth, TX

Re: sour odor when new Leaf starts

Mon Oct 12, 2020 8:28 pm

Have you checked the cabin filter? Perhaps something has been sucked into it?
2015 LeafS
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2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited

sriram
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2020 9:25 am
Delivery Date: 03 Jul 2020
Leaf Number: 321850

Re: sour odor when new Leaf starts

Fri Oct 16, 2020 1:10 pm

Thanks to everyone for the advice. I just returned from the dealer (ABC NIssan, Phoenix, good service). A service manager named Nick identified the issue immediately. He explained that the problem was mold/mildew in the A/C filter, even though there are only 1570 miles on the car. The default A/C setting in the Nissan Leaf is to recirculate air. This saves energy because recirc air is already cool and needs less energy than fresh air to cool. However, this means that internal humidity from the passengers gets deposited in the filter which leads to mold/mildew. They showed me the old filter that was black with mold and it smelled sour like vinegar. The fix was to replace the filter and spray the A/C system. To avoid in future they recommended to manually turn off recirc and when in garage to leave the windows down an inch or so.

Looking at the mold-filled filter I have to agree with this explanation but I am still puzzled. I drove three kinds of Toyotas in very humid Houston for many years and never had this problem. I remember noticing that the default setting there was recirc. Also, in Phoenix I have had a Prius for much longer and this problem has not occurred. I believe the default on that is also recirc but will check.

sriram
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2020 9:25 am
Delivery Date: 03 Jul 2020
Leaf Number: 321850

Re: sour odor when new Leaf starts

Fri Oct 16, 2020 1:53 pm

in my last post I forgot to add that the Moderator Leftiebiker was 100% right! I I discounted her/his advice because I have never had this problem with any other car including three kinds of Toyotas (with recirculated air) in humid Houston. Must be something to do with Nissan A/C design.

Thank you Leftiebiker!

LeftieBiker
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Re: sour odor when new Leaf starts

Fri Oct 16, 2020 3:00 pm

I've had this problem with several cars. I even posted a 'recipe' for a less toxic A/C system cleaner regularly on alt.autos.volvo regularly. Basically, it's vodka and apple cider vinegar (because that smells the least awful). The way to avoid this happening again is to either not use Recirculate with A/C, or to at least open the air intake and shut the A/C off at least 30 seconds before turning the car off.
Scarlet Ember 2018 Leaf SL W/ Pro Pilot
2009 Vectrix VX-1 W/18 Leaf modules, & 3 EZIP E-bicycles.
BAFX OBDII Dongle
PLEASE don't PM me with Leaf questions. Just post in the topic that seems most appropriate.

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Nubo
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Re: sour odor when new Leaf starts

Fri Oct 16, 2020 3:13 pm

sriram wrote:
Fri Oct 16, 2020 1:10 pm
Thanks to everyone for the advice. I just returned from the dealer (ABC NIssan, Phoenix, good service). A service manager named Nick identified the issue immediately. He explained that the problem was mold/mildew in the A/C filter, even though there are only 1570 miles on the car. The default A/C setting in the Nissan Leaf is to recirculate air. This saves energy because recirc air is already cool and needs less energy than fresh air to cool. However, this means that internal humidity from the passengers gets deposited in the filter which leads to mold/mildew. They showed me the old filter that was black with mold and it smelled sour like vinegar. The fix was to replace the filter and spray the A/C system. ...
Also check to make sure the condensate drain is not blocked. I.e., there should be a tricle of water under the car when parked for a few minutes with the AC on.

I also 2nd Lefties suggestion to turn off AC for a bit and let the fan run before shutting down the car. I try to do that when I'm a minute or two from destination. It's a good practice for any vehicle to help prevent funky HVAC odors.
I noticed you're still working with polymers.

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