AC Smells Funny and Then Stopped Cooling: Causes and Solutions

Like most parts of a vehicle, the AC is prone to some problems. Among the reported issues is the air conditioning smells funny, and afterward, the cooling stops.

Despite improvements in the ac since its first use in 1939, the working principle is still the same. Therefore, most air conditioning problems have similar causes and fixes, even though the vehicles belong to different brands.

Read on to learn the causes of the problem of AC’s funny smell and how to fix them.

AC Smelled Funny and Then Stopped Cooling

What Causes the AC to Smell Funny?

There are several things that can trigger unusual smells in car AC. They include a leaking AC evaporator, clogged air filter, or blocked vents. And the solutions include cleaning or replacing the faulty part.

Some of the repair work is easy to do by following the user manual. However, others are complicated and require a professional.  To be safe, you should take your vehicle to your closest dealer.

Some common problems an ac stops working with or  without a smell include:

  • Clogged filter
  • Leaking Ac evaporator
  •  Cooling fan problems
  • Faulty radiator
  • Blocked Ac vents
  •  Leaking coolant

However, since the problem begins with a smell, you should also learn about common ac smells.

Despite improvements in the ac since its first use in 1939, the working principle is still the same. Therefore, most air conditioning problems have similar causes and fixes, even though the vehicles belong to different brands.

What Causes the AC to Smell Funny?

There is more than one scent reported from the air conditioning system. Each has a different cause, and the solutions may also vary. Therefore, to understand the reason, you must be able to tell the kind of scent your air conditioner has.

The following are some common types of smells reported coming from the air conditioning system and their reasons.

 1. Burning Smell

The burning smell is among the consequential and common scents reported on the air conditioning system. When you smell any burning smell from your vehicle, you should stop driving immediately and switch off the engine. Most times, the scent will edge to something like burning plastic.

Popularly, the cabin air filter may be clogged with dust particles, causing a burning odor and cooling to stop. Burning leaked oil from the fuel line may also cause a burning scent.

Solutions to this problem include;

  • Cleaning the air filter or replacing it with a new one.
  • Replacing any leaking fuel line and observing for other leaking points in the system.

2. Dead animal

The odor of a decaying animal is another frequently reported problem with the air conditioning system. This issue usually goes away by itself, but sometimes the user must fix it themselves.

Most times, there’s a dead animal, mostly a rodent, in the car’s AC system. The dead rodent may block the vents causing the ac to stop cooling shortly after. However, old leaked liquids in the system may cause a smell like that of a decaying animal. Solutions include;

  • Disassembling the ac system to get to the corpse and remove it.
  • Scheduling for a mechanic to clean the duct surfaces and scrub any remaining bacteria causing the smell.

3. Musty Odor

The musty odor from the air conditioning system is among the problems that can plague your car for a long time. Victims have reported the scent remaining even after pressure washing the whole vehicle.

Mold and mildew are the usual cause of the musty odor, and can trigger allergic symptoms. Mold and mildew block the ac vents and may cause the vehicle not to cool properly or fail.

Solutions include:

  • Spraying an antiseptic (Our pick) through the exterior vents while the engine is running. The spray should kill and clear mold.
  • Cleaning the air conditioning system after spraying to clear blockages.

4. Chemical smell

Owners have also reported a smell that is like that of a chemical. This scent is usually from the AC evaporator leaking refrigerant that then flows through the vents.

A leaking AC evaporator can also cause the cooling to reduce and eventually stop and may be the cause of the niche.

Solutions to a chemical smell include;

  • Replacing the evaporator with a new one.
  • Since the evaporator is under many mechanical parts, the repair requires a professional and can cost between $1000 and $3000.

5. Sweet scent

Coolant is responsible for cooling the engine after dispensing heat at the radiator. When a leak happens in the cooling system, the heated coolant can flow through the vents into the cabin.

The smell of leaking coolant is sweet. The coolant leak can also interfere with the cooling and cause it to stop working.

Solutions include;

  • Check for leaks on the hoses or the radiator and fix.
  • You may also be needed to replace the radiator with a new one.

How Can You Prevent the Funny Smell from the AC?

Most of the solutions to the various causes of smells in the air conditioning are expensive, especially if they require a professional. Like, quality air filters may cost $50 – $200.

Therefore, users should be aware of the various ways they can prevent smells. Some of these ways include;

  • Turning off the AC a few minutes before parking your vehicle for the night to allow the AC to dry. This can prevent mold from growing.
  • Doing regular checkups to spot any refrigerant or coolant leakages in the vehicle.
  • Parking the vehicle indoors or setting traps near it to prevent animals from creeping into the AC system.
  • Keeping the car clean from foodstuffs that tend to attract rodents.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Following are the frequently asked questions about the AC smelling funny, along with the answers.

Where Does the Burning Smell from the AC Come From?

The air conditioning system usually blows in scents from other parts, like the engine. Therefore, most smell, especially burning scents, come from other vehicle parts.

How Much Does It Cost to Remove a Smell from The AC System?

The cost of diagnosing and cleaning the odor off the AC system starts from $50 to $1000. The cost varies with the part causing the smell and the labor cost. Some parts, like the AC compressor, are expensive, costing between $700 and $950.

Can AC that Has Stopped Cooling Be Repaired?

Most causes of the air conditioning stopped cooling are repairable. However, sometimes a repair is insufficient, and the conditioner may fail to work afterward. In this case, you may have to change the air conditioning system’s components to fix them.

Bottom Line

When the air conditioner is active, the air should be pure and free of smells. If you detect the scent from the air conditioning system, there is a problem. The worst scenario is that the cooling system may stop working shortly after the smell.

Luckily, most causes of the funny smell are fixable through repairs or replacement. Some are easy to do and doable through DIY, while others may require a mechanic. Also, some tips in the article can help you prevent the scent before it happens.

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