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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have a 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. Got it brand new back in Setptember of 2016 with 0 miles. This week, I've noticed a vinegar smell coming out of the AC vents whether I have it on AC or heater. It lasts for about 5 minutes after I turn it on and that is every time I turn it on. It is really strong in the beginning but then it goes away. I checked the cabin filter and it was pretty much clean. I even smelled it but it don't smell like anything. I have changed the cabin filter couple months ago as well.

Does anybody know what this could be???? I have warranty on it but can't take it to dealership till about 2 weeks when I get back home from work. Any input on this matter is appreciated. Thanks in advance.
 

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Or a buildup of fungus / bacteria on the evaporator core. Might also be that you have a rodent living in or using the HVAC box as a bathroom......
 

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Suggestion:

Usually it is caused by the growth of fungus or some other kind of biological bacteria matter. Try turning the AC off early (before you shut off the engine) as that tends to help dry the system by helping to prevent moisture build up in the AC system.
 

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Suggestion:

Usually it is caused by the growth of fungus or some other kind of biological bacteria matter. Try turning the AC off early (before you shut off the engine) as that tends to help dry the system by helping to prevent moisture build up in the AC system.
I've had the exact same smelly issue only in the summer. So about a couple miles from the house, I turn off the AC, set blower motor on high and let it dry up. If you run with Recirculate a lot, don't because that's one main reason why this happens. Could be a partial clog but mine does the same and seems to drain well. May be exacerbated by parking in a garage everyday at home where there's no air movement to help dry it up.

In either case, it's caused exactly be what's mentioned above. There are cleaners or other things people have done to try to fix it. So I'd try turning your AC off earlier for a few days to see if that helps and if not, hit up WM or Amazon for a vent cleaner.
 

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Mine was awful in the summer. Bought a few cleaner kits, made it better but it only lasted a few days. Hasn't happened since winter hit, and I was gonna bring it in to be checked out but why bother now. If it continues in the summer I'll have it looked at.

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Discussion Starter #8
I will give those vent cleaners from Amazon later on. If I take it to Hyundai, all they gonna do is use those cleaners and that's it?
Yesterday, what I did was remove the cabin air filter and had the AC blow on high for about 3 minutes. After that, I closed everything and smell went away for the whole day. Today this morning, it smelled a little but not a lot. This afternoon, it smelled awful like vinegar.

Any other suggestions as to how to clean it and stuff?
 

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You can crank the heat and it can help. I’ve dealt with this problem often on another car. I let it idle for twenty minutes and had the heat on full blast. Then go heavy on the ac cleaning products. The one time I had it done on my Tucson it worked wonderfully. I have the fan somewhere so I’ll keep an eye out for you.
 

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As some folks suggested, cutting the compressor off and running the fan on high for a couple of minutes before parking will help to dry the evaporator core and reduce / prevent the odor. Some other manufacturers have a feature called "afterblow" that one can enable and it will run the blower on high for up to ten minutes after engine shut down to do the same thing. It works as long as your battery is good.....

As for taking it to a Dealer....They may have a different process or products to use. I have never had the issue so I never researched it with them. Not sure why I never had it.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Okay so I went back and re-read the posts on this thread and there was something that caught my attention. It was about using the re-circulation mode all the time which I do.

Let me go back before I get ahead of myself. I went back and changed the cabin air filter(which wasn't dirty at all but still did). Then I put the heater full blast for about 20 minutes. Then I grabbed 2 air fresheners put it between blower fan and cabin air filter. Let the AC run full blast for about 20 minutes BUUUUUT without the re-circulation mode on. The next day, there was no vinegar smell and till now there is still no vinegar smell. I've been turning off the re-circulation mode and been using it like that.


To my understanding is that when you use the re-circulation mode and turn the vehicle off, the lid stays close. And when you don't use it, it stays open which allows fresh air go to in and dry the evaporator core dry once you turn the vehicle off. I thought about this yesterday and would like to know if I'm right or wrong?
 

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There is something getting into the system to cause fermentation. Still say the drain is somehow blocked. Maybe the plastic drain pan is warped? As there should be no accumulation of water recirc or not. And most systems today will not flow any air through the car when they are off. In the summer mine is in recirc almost 100% of the time.
 

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There is something getting into the system to cause fermentation. Still say the drain is somehow blocked. Maybe the plastic drain pan is warped? As there should be no accumulation of water recirc or not. And most systems today will not flow any air through the car when they are off. In the summer mine is in recirc almost 100% of the time.
Mine isn't blocked. There is a steady stream of water out of it when the ac is in use.

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One of two things... they sprayed vinegar in the vents when cleaning your vehicle...

Or

Build up.. you need Lysol can spray.. turn vents on go outside and spray as well as spray into your vents...

Change filter to a cabin/charcoal filter...

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Same problem in my 2010 Elantra with 85,000 miles. It actually makes me cough as soon as I inhale the odor. I've had 4 brand new cars for 10 years each and none had this problem. My friend's Camry has more miles than my car and his a/c is still as fresh as a morning breeze. My Mom's 1999 Sentra has 160,000 miles and has never had this problem - and she lives in Florida where they use a/c 12 months a year!
Is there a design flaw that causes this? Is a class action or recall under consideration by anyone?
 

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My wife's '09 Impala started having this vinegar smell issue about two months ago (after 10 years of ownership!). I always keep the cabin filter changed but have not switched to a charcoal type filter but maybe I will next time. Anyhow I tried the Lysol method....last only about a week. I ended up buying a can of this...


Now, you're supposed to go up through the drain hose from underneath but I have no way of doing this so I fed the hose down through the center vents as far as it could go and emptied the can. Let it sit for 15 minutes and then run the AC for 5 minutes on low to allow the funk to drain out the bottom. It's been 3 days and so far so good no vinegar smell. We'll see.
 

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I’ve had luck with the Lysol spray into the cowl vents on our cars. They have one called Neutra Aire with a mild orange smell which is better than the plain one. Of course with the current situation finding any Lysol is about impossible. If you run the AC on auto all the time it will mostly default to recirculate which causes odors over time. Switch manually to outside air whenever possible.
 
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