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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?
This issue has caused some much wasted time and frustration. I own a 2017 Sante Fe Sport, and even after being into the dealership 3 times for service, the problem is still persisting. The first two times, they used a product that is sprayed into the system and then heat/etc is run in intervals to dryout the system. The last time, they SUPPOSEDLY replaced the entire air compressor and cleaned it all out. Well, the smell is returning. If they did ACTUALLY do what they said they did, there is most definitely a design flaw that Hyundai is hiding. I would be interested in finding out more.
 

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Vinegar comes from ethanol which means something is fermenting down there. Acetic acid is a weal acid and the source of the smell. Maybe wash the cowl out with some weak alkaline solution?
 

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This issue has caused some much wasted time and frustration. I own a 2017 Sante Fe Sport, and even after being into the dealership 3 times for service, the problem is still persisting. The first two times, they used a product that is sprayed into the system and then heat/etc is run in intervals to dryout the system. The last time, they SUPPOSEDLY replaced the entire air compressor and cleaned it all out. Well, the smell is returning. If they did ACTUALLY do what they said they did, there is most definitely a design flaw that Hyundai is hiding. I would be interested in finding out more.
I also had the dealership make a second try in Sep 2020, and they did the flush a different way, whatever that means. The vinegar smell didn't go away. The chemical smell is still noticeable four months later. I'm sure the vinegar smell will return in a few months when I use the A/C again. I contacted a Hyundai customer service rep in southern California named Gretchen. She wasn't much help. All she did was refer me to a service manager at a different Hyundai location. So far I haven't followed up because in winter I am using heat without the A./C mode. I don't know how the A/C and ventilation systems are set up, but I have a feeling the problem is in the interior of the car (vents) and not under the hood. Water is pooling somewhere and mold is growing there. I suspect it is a design flaw or something that broke. Hard to believe the service department is so stumped by this.
 

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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.
Replace the cabin air filter, crank the heat (outside air not recirculate). Afterwords, use this per their instructions:


Hit the rubber A/C drain hose under the car with some blasts of compressed air and see if it dislodges any clogs and allows it to drain. If you don’t see any water under your car on a hot day - and you had the A/C running - it’s a smoking-gun for a clog. A few blasts of compressed air into the drain hose when I had this issue and....Niagara Falls.

Then try to get in the habit of running the outside air through the system in the last 5 miles of a drive if it was mostly on recirculate.
 
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