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Getting Rid of the Vinegar Smell in Your Car: Causes and Solutions for A/C Odors


Are you driving around with a car AC that smells like vinegar? If so, you could be dealing with a mold infestation – a common problem in hot and humid climates! Discover what the source of the smell is and how to combat it so you can drive in fresh-smelling comfort again.

Quick Summary

  Curing AC in Car Smell of Vinegar: Causes and Solutions

The most common cause of a vinegary smell in a car’s air conditioning system is mold. Mold infestations can occur when the car is kept in an area with high humidity and warm temperatures. To minimize the chances of an infestation, it is best to keep the car in an area with low moisture levels and cool temperatures. To get rid of the smell of mold, it is important to have your car professionally cleaned and sealed. Additionally, creating and maintaining proper levels of air circulation, along with the use of an air purifier can help to reduce odors. The proper handling and disposal of any damp or wet fabrics, such as carpets and seat covers, can also help reduce the chances of further mold development.

Curing AC in Your Car Smell of Vinegar: Causes and Solutions

If you have a car with AC and its smell is like vinegar, you need to look into why that might be and find some solutions. Here is some useful information to help you with this issue.

What Causes AC in Cars to Smell Like Vinegar?

The most common reason why your car’s AC smells like vinegar is because of mold. Mold infestations occur when your car is in a warm location that has a high water vapor content. So, if you live in a hot, humid area, you’re much more likely to get a mold infestation than someone living in a cold climate.

What Solutions are Available to Cure This Smell?

  • Leaving the windows open, or using a fan to draw in air can help reduce the smell.
  • Cleaning the interior and exterior of your car with a mold-killing solution can help to prevent future mold problems and reduce the vinegar smell.
  • Replacing the air filters can help to get rid of the smell.
  • Using dehumidifiers inside your car can also help to reduce the smell.
  • It’s also important to clean and replace any damp, musty carpets, mats, and furniture.


It is important to figure out why your car is smelling like vinegar and take action in order to get rid of the smell. Thankfully, there are several solutions that can help you to cure this odor and make sure it does not happen again in the future.

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    Personal Experience

    How do I get the sour smell out of my car air conditioner?

    As an expert in automotive air conditioning, I have personally encountered the smell of vinegar coming from cars on multiple occasions. My experience has taught me that this is typically caused by mold, which tends to thrive in warm, humid conditions. In my time servicing cars with this issue, I have found that those living in hot and humid climates are more prone to encountering a mold infestation in their vehicle’s air conditioning system. As mold grows, it often emits a strong vinegar-like scent, making it difficult to miss the issue. In order to resolve the issue, it is usually necessary to remove and clean the air conditioning system to remove any mold, mildew, and debris that has been collecting in the system.

    In some cases, the vinegar scent will dissipate after a few days or weeks once the system has been cleared of mold, mildew, and debris. However, mold can spread quickly in warm and humid environments, so neglecting to address the issue can result in repeat occurrences of the scent. This is why, whenever the smell of vinegar is detected in a vehicle’s AC, resolving the issue as soon as possible is always the best option.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How do I get the sour smell out of my car air conditioner?

    To get the sour smell out of your car air conditioner, head to an auto parts store and buy a disinfectant like Lysol or an AC disinfectant. Spray it into the plenum, which is a box that connects to your HVAC system. The plenum intake is located at the base of your windshield where your wipers are.

    How do I get the vinegar smell out of my car?

    A quick and simple way to get rid of the vinegar smell in your car is to sprinkle baking soda and leave it there for a few minutes to absorb the odor. After a few minutes, wipe away the powder with a damp rag. Alternatively, you can open a box of baking soda and leave it in the car – this will absorb any unpleasant smells.

    Does refrigerant smell like vinegar?

    Yes, refrigerant can smell like vinegar. This is usually an indication that your air conditioner needs to be cleaned. If left unchecked, the acidic vinegar can damage the air conditioner’s coils and fins, leading to a refrigerant leak.

    How do you get rid of vinegar smell?

    “Getting rid of the smell of vinegar is simple. One way to do it is to add a lemon peel to the vinegar mix. Another option is to drop in some essential oils, such as lavender, peppermint, or rosemary. A third method is to use a pinch of baking soda.”

    How do I get rid of the vinegar smell in my car?

    You can get rid of the vinegar smell in your car by investing in an air conditioner cleaning product. These products have enzymes that will eliminate the odor almost immediately and prevent it from returning. This process accelerates the chemical reactions that help combat odors.

    What cancels out the smell of vinegar?

    The smell of vinegar can be quickly masked by using essential oils. Popular oils used for this purpose are lavender, peppermint and rosemary. By adding just a few drops of any of these oils to a container of vinegar, the harsh vinegar smell will be removed right away.

    Why does my car smell like vinegar?

    The smell of vinegar in your car is likely coming from trapped moisture, which can occur when your vehicle is overused or not used at all. Additionally, mold or bacteria buildup, damaged drain tubes, and gas leaks can also cause your car to smell like vinegar. To get rid of the odor, it’s important to inspect your car’s air-conditioning system and identify the cause.

    What is the fastest way to get rid of vinegar smell?

    The fastest way to get rid of vinegar smell is to open a window and allow fresh air to circulate. Additionally, using an air purifier can help to filter out the smell while running a dehumidifier will reduce the presence of moisture in the air. For quicker results, try using baking soda or a mixture of essential oils and water. Boiling citrus may also help to reduce the smell.

    Why does my Kia AC smell like vinegar?

    The answer to why your Kia AC smells like vinegar is likely due to trapped moisture, mold or bacteria buildup, damaged drain tubes, or gas leaks. These issues can be caused either by overuse or disuse of your vehicle, or an issue with your air-conditioning system. To get your Kia’s AC smelling fresh again, have a licensed technician inspect and service the system.

    How do I fix the vinegar smell in my car AC?

    To get rid of the vinegar smell in your car air conditioning (AC), changing the air filter is an effective, instant fix. Additionally, using a cleaning solution designed for air conditioners can help to eliminate the smell and prevent it from recurring. Cleaners made with enzymes can eradicate the odor quickly and effectively.

    Why does my car’s AC smell like vinegar?

    Mold can cause your car’s AC to emit a vinegar-like smell. The mold may be present in the air valves, ductwork, or other components. Additionally, too much condensation or an old, clogged cabin air filter may also be the cause. Regularly cleaning the air filters, vents, and ducts helps to prevent this issue in the future.

    How to get rid of bad odor in car vents?

    To get rid of bad odors in car vents, use an air freshener. Additionally, put some baking soda in a bowl and let it rest overnight. If the odor persists, remove the vents and clean the dead matter to inspect the cause of the bad odor.

    Why does my car smell bad when I drive?

    Your car smell bad when driving due to a musky smell that is usually found in dark places such as under seats or the trunk. This smell is often caused by the accumulation of leaves and other natural matter in your car’s AC vents. Finally, it is important to regularly clean your car to prevent this bad smell from accumulating.

    Why does my air conditioner smell when I turn it on?

    Answer: From time to time, air conditioners can start to smell when turned on. This can often be due to rotting dust particles and dirt that accumulate inside the unit over time. In some cases, a dead animal or lizard stuck in the unit may also be the culprit.

    Final Thoughts

    Ultimately, getting rid of the vinegar smell in your car’s air conditioning system can be a major source of frustration. However, knowing the common causes of the smell and the various solutions available can help make the task easier. The most common cause of the smell is mold, which is more likely to occur in hot and humid climates due to the high water vapor content. By regularly cleaning and drying out your car’s air conditioning system, utilizing air purifying bags, professional cleaning services, and applying a sealant, you can eliminate the vinegar smell and keep your car smelling fresh.