Top Reasons Why Car Smells Like Vinegar?

Having your car ac smells like vinegar can be one of the nastiest experiences. You are discouraged by the unpleasant odor whenever you wish to go out for a drive.

You don’t want to take commuters and are apprehensive that the horrible acidic odor will transfer over to you. It is uncomfortable and embracing and may also be a matter of concern.

If you are thinking about what causes a car to smell like vinegar, read on. In this guide, we will also discuss how to eliminate the vinegar smell from cars.

Why Does My Car Smell Like Vinegar?

There are many causes why your automobile’s air conditioner smells like vinegar. Below are the most prevalent reasons:

Clogged Condensation Drain

If your vehicle’s condensation drain pipe is blocked, it may commence leaking back into your vehicle. If your air conditioner’s drainage system is not functioning appropriately, the overflowing water will be left to gather on your car’s floor and begin clinging to the ceiling, windows, and your interior’s fabrics.

Over time, this will cause mildew and mold to develop almost everywhere. Therefore, you must ensure that your air conditioner is draining properly.

Fixing a blocked AC drain pipe is easier if you are aware of what you are doing, and it can be a fast approach to inhibiting the entrance of water into your automobile and combatting the vinegar smell in the car.

Refrigerant Or Coolant Leakage

Another potential reason why my car’s air conditioner smells like vinegar is the coolant or refrigerant leakage in the car’s cooling system. Refrigerant is a watery chemical compound that is used in the AC.

Refrigerant leaks can take place in various ways. The most common causes include loss of seal, defective repair work, compressor damage, faulty connections, and poor maintenance.

The smell of leaking refrigerant is an outcome of the refrigerant’s breakdown and will slowly get stronger over time. Additionally, coolant leaking out of the heater core can also be the cause of the vinegar smell.

To confirm this, keep checking your vehicle’s coolant level to see if it is decreasing. Plus, activate the defrosters and see if they blow greasy fog onto the windscreen.

If the coolant level decreases or you see a greasy mist on the windscreen, take your automobile to a dealership for the heater core leakage inspection.

How Long does Coolant Last in a Car?

Old And Dirty Air Filter

The vinegar smell frequently comes from a blocked or dirty air filter. This filter is remarkable for trapping debris and particles, keeping the air conditioner protected.

Nevertheless, it can hold onto moisture when it gets blocked and begin to develop mold. To inhibit this, you should change it at the specified times mentioned in the owner’s manual.

Typically, you should change it annually, but most folks ignore this. It is a straightforward procedure that saves you from the car’s weird smells and keeps the compartment air at its top quality.

The vinegar smell frequently comes from a blocked or dirty air filter
Photo: Klaus Nahr

Faulty Blower Motor

A faulty blower motor is one of the top reasons why the car smells like vinegar when I turn it on. It is an electric device that pushes cooled or heated air into the car compartment.

The Ac’s blower is a motor and fan assembly equipped with electrical connections. If you notice a burning plastic odor in your vehicle, the odds are that the blower motor is faulty.

This generally occurs when the blower’s electric connections are congested with debris and dirt.

How To Eliminate Vinegar Smell From Car?

Here are some of the best ways how to get rid of car smells:

Clean Or Change Problem Parts

If you have found the reason for the vinegar smell yourself, you may also want to fix it yourself. For instance, you may need to replace the filter to eradicate the accumulation of damp, organic substances.

Or unblock the AC drain pipe to reduce the amount of moisture accumulating in your automobile. This can be an inexpensive method to remove the odor, but it can sometimes be hard to pinpoint the cause of the issue.

Use An AC Cleaner

You can spray an AC cleaner into your car’s AC to kill bacteria and mold. They are affordable, and anyone can use them. However, ensure to change the air filter beforehand and eliminate any leaves.

Vehicle air conditioner

Clean Your Car

Another effective way to fix the bad smell in vehicles is to clean them. Get into your car’s every corner, but first, start by eliminating any things that don’t belong.

Clean the seats, floor mats, hard surfaces, and upholstery. Guarantee to use the right and safest cleaners for every surface.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Does Cleaning AC Coils Help Remove The Vinegar Smell?

Mold and dust can get stuck in the coils, and by cleaning them, you can acquire an efficient air conditioner and remove the vinegar smell.

How Do I Clean The Car AC?

The best way to clean car ac is to ensure no leaves are clogging the Ac intake, change the air filter, and spray an AC cleaner into the vents to remove bacteria and mold.


If your car smells like vinegar, it may indicate several problems. Either there are malfunctioning parts, or your car is not clean.

You should find and fix the problem immediately to prevent the vinegar odor from lasting. Keep following CarDecent for more useful vehicle cleaning tips.

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Last Updated on February 23, 2023 by admin

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