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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys,

I've got around 1700 miles on my Latitude and I've just started noticing for the first 5-10 minutes or so after I start it up I have a really musty mildew smell coming from the vents. Usually running the AC for a while eliminates the problem, but then then if the vehicle sits for several hours it starts all over again with the stale mildew smell.

Is anyone else having this issue?
 

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First, I'd check to be sure the evaporator drain is properly draining. You should see a small puddle of water under the car after running the AC for a while (if it is a humid day). The drain is located on the right side of the center stack near the left foot of the passenger (under the carpeting). There has been at least one case reported here that the drain hose was missing completely.

If the drain is functioning properly, one trick you can try is to turn off the AC during the last two or three miles of your drive and open the system to outside air. Turn the blower on high. This will help to "dry" any moisture in the evaporator somewhat. Natrually, the longer you can end your trip with un-cooled air, the dryer the AC system will be when you park it.

Residual moisture in the evaporator sitting in a closed car eventually leads to mold problems and that musty odor.
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I did peek under the panel in the center stack and my drain hose is there and there doesn't seem to be any water leaking into the cabin from what I can tell. Everything seems fairly dry. I didnt run this AC at all yesterday and when I got in the car today there was no musty smell. But I did use the AC on the way to work and when I got in my car at lunch it smelled musty again for about five minutes. I guess I'll have to take it into the dealer and find out for sure if it's draining correctly.
 

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I would definitely say that it's a good idea to bring your vehicle to an FCA dealer, Broc_Savagewood. I haven't come across any TSBs for this concern. If you would like assistance in scheduling an appointment, please feel free to let me know. Either way, keep us posted!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Update: I called up the dealership where I bought my Renegade and the service adviser told me that the musty smell is a pretty normal thing among all makes and models of cars. I'd never experienced it myself in any of the other 6 vehicles I've owned in my lifetime. (85' Chevy Monte Carlo, 97' Cavalier, 97' Nissan Wingroad, 95' Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2013 Dart SXT) So I called up another Jeep dealer and they scheduled service for September 4th. I took the vehicle in and in about 90 minutes had it back free of charge, they detected no problems with AC drainage and performed a cleaning service on the HVAC system which replaced the musty smell with a fresher cleaner scent. It's only been a few days and I've just began to notice the musty smell creeping back in. Not sure what to do at this point as there is no identifiable problem according to the service technicians. Time will tell.
 

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Just out of curiosity, how do you run your HVAC?

I've gotten musty smells in other cars, but that was usually as they aged and the drain hose would get plugged with crud. Cleaning it out usually helped.

However, I've noticed something odd with my renegade. I've been running it in recirculating mode rather than with fresh air and haven't been noticing a musty smell at all. As the evenings around here have been getting cooler, I've been moving out of the max out the cooling mode, and I get the musty smell for a bit when I switch to fresh air input.

My guess is that moisture/condensation is building up someplace on the fresh air intake side of the system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I've been running it less lately as well, but in the middle of the summer I was running it mostly in recirculate mode. I found that going into open vent mode and running the fans only for a day or two tended to ease the smell, but as soon as I'd use the A/C at all that musty smell would come back for a few minutes the next time I started the vehicle.

At first I thought maybe something was building up around the HVAC air intakes due to being able to smell the wiper fluid when you use it. That was one method I used to quickly clear the musty smell, though replacing it with a solvent smell isn't a vast improvement.
 

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I also struggle with that moldy smell. Yes, it is better when I haven't been on recirculate, but still smells really bad. I've never had a car do this before either. I also think my wiper fluid reservoir has a leak. I had a huge puddle when I filled it even though I didn't spill any. My brakes also squeal like they need replaced. My dealer is about an hour away so I've been trying to wait until my first oil change to have everything addressed.

Anyone have a good link to order touch up paint?
 

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If the drain is functioning properly, one trick you can try is to turn off the AC during the last two or three miles of your drive and open the system to outside air. Turn the blower on high. This will help to "dry" any moisture in the evaporator somewhat. Natrually, the longer you can end your trip with un-cooled air, the dryer the AC system will be when you park it.
This
 

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I took my Trailhawk to the dealer for the same issue. They just sprayed Lysol in the air intake vent while the vent is running to help kill the bacteria causing the mold/musty smell. It works for a day or two but I find myself spraying it a couple of times a week. I have never had this with any other car. I love my Renegade Trailhawk otherwise. I hope someone can find a permanent fix as I am buying Lysol more often...
 

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Surely there has to be a way of a) preventing it and b) if it does occur, a permanent solution to eradicate the smell. Obviously spraying Lysol is only a temporary fix. I have had cars in the past with air con, including classics and I have never experienced any unpleasant odours with any of them.
 

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I have worked in the industry for 30 years. The mildew smell is caused when the A/C is run in recirculation mode and fresh air does not circulate enough to dry out the condensation built up in the evaporator system. When you park the vehicle just flip it to fresh air. It may take a few days if you have had the situation continuing for a period of time but it should clear up.
 

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Another thing worth mentioning may be that once you got mold, mildew or fungus, they are very hard to eradicate, because some spores ted to survive in some nooks and grannies and they will procreate (It's all they do).

Like two people have already pointed out, I would advise turning the A/C off and to get fresh outside airflow going for the last few minutes of a drive to give the evaporator a chance to dry. Prevention is easier than dealing with infestation.

Also, if you smell a persistent mildewy odor, remove, inspect, and based on what your eyes and nose tells you, replace the CAF, because it is a common breeding ground for tiny nasties and a source of malodor. After all, the CAF traps all sorts of airborne contaminants (particles, bacteria, mold, funghi spores, viruses, pollen, dust, before they get into the cabin. It's an orgy in your HVAC. If you can get an activated charcoal-activated CAF, they do help eliminate all sorts of odors that you otherwise can smell in the cabin (diesel fumes, skunk, Dior Poison etc).
 

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I have the same issue. I also had the same issue with my Challenger. Stinks!
RE-read post #2 in this thread; especially the second paragraph. Get into the habit operating the AC in this manner, and you will reduce or eliminate musty smell problems.

Neither my Renegade or my Challenger have a musty smell.
 
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