If you have mold or mildew smell when you first turn on your AC, you may need to replace the filter, or clean the A/C condenser, or both! Some Tesla 3 owners have been able to get a Tesla service center to clean the condenser at no charge, while others have had to take the task on themselves.
Typical cleaning process for AC condensers involves inserting the very long tube on the cleaner can up into the draintube of your car to hopefully hit the AC condenser. However, the Tesla Model 3 drain tube is located where the right front lower control arm is attached to the Model 3 at the rearmost attachment point. There is a little black drain tube in the ‘square tube part’ of the chassis:
Clean the ac condenser and replace air filters
Access the AC Condenser
Tesla has a DIY on how to replace the cabin air filter, and once the air filter is removed, the condenser is visible (as visible as it gets) for cleaning.
If you remove the air filter and see large debris, like leaves or small sticks, you may want to consider an air intake grille
Clean the AC Condenser
Use a cleaner like Klima-Cleaner Air Conditioner Cleaner (available on Amazon)
Tesla model 3 owner Lanzer devised a way to deliver a cleaning foam directly onto the condenser and hold it in place while it expands and dissolves grime, rather than just blanket spraying all over the place. This is what his contraption looks like:
Check out his full writeup on his blog Lanzer DIY
Replace the Air Filter
Replace the air filter with a cleaned or new unit from a Tesla Service Center or a third party filter from Amazon
Close it all back up
After you’re done, close your dash back up
Here’s a Video
Use an ozone generator with heat set to Hi
If cleaning the evaporator coil and filters doesn’t get rid of the smell, you might want to try an ozone generator. TeslaMotorsClub member Atari2600 did this:
- I removed my filters, then cleaned them, and sprayed my coils and soaked my filters with Chlorine Dioxide.
- Still noticed smell in some situations so I treated with an ozone generator
- Better but not perfect so I treated with ozone generator plus heat set to Hi. Worked!
They set the climate system to HI so that the heating element would help kill stuff and/or dry up everything during the ozone treatment. Atari2600 used this ozone generator from Amazon with a warning to run it somewhere else first to get rid of the ‘burned electrical smell’ first
You can run the ozone generator right into the air intake up front by the frunk: