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I am a new proud owner of a 2010My lexus IS 250 Auto. I absolutely love the styling of the car and the driving experience is something I look forward to every day. However, I have a query which I hope somebody can answer and it is to do with the cars interior ambient smell. Having spent over 30 years in the automotive industry as a Ford Product Development Engineer I have driven hundreds of different cars especially when carrying out competitor analysis. Generally every make of car has an ambient smell which comes from the materials used for the interior trim i.e. plastics, leather, wood etc. But the smell I am experiencing in my Lexus seems to be from the air coming out of the air conditioning vents.

I wouldn't describe the smell as unpleasant but at the same time it is not a pleasant smell and it bothers me that it has a smell in the first place. I have tried disinfecting the air conditioning system with Autoglym Air Cond sanitizer but once the smell of that went away the original smell came back. The best way to describe the smell is like damp stale air and not fresh air which you would expect.

I always leave the air conditioning system set on auto but the smell is most noticeable when I first switch on the ignition and when the air con fan speed goes above the midway setting.

I intend to renew the pollen filter but I was hoping to find out whether all Lexus cars are like this or whether there could be a problem with my car maybe trapped water inside the air con unit.

Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

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Pollen filter may be the problem. Also if the filiter has in some way been contaminated by water/vapour, it could be growing cultures/mould and that's not good.

When the filter is changed ask them to inspect it for anything out of the ordinary, like sponging or growth. If they do find something, you need to flag up the odour issue and ask them to investigate. My IS250 has a neutral air smell, so this is definitely not normal.

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This sounds (smells!) like the well-known problem of fungus in the air-conditioning system. The cheapest and one of the most effective cures is to run the aircon at full power and with the heat turned up - the smell typiclly disappears after a few minutes. There are some discussions of the problem in the forum. I lived for some years in the USA where temperatures and humidity tended to encourage the growth of fungus and I think that, once the system is affected, it is difficult to purge it of every single spore, so the fungus grows back. It's probably a bit like black mould in a bathroom - once there it can't be irradicated entirely and always returns.

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Thank you for all your comments. It appears I do have a problem with the air con system on my car which doesn't seem to be common on all Lexus vehicles. I think I will start by changing the pollen filter to see what that looks like. I may even take the car to my local Lexus dealer at Woodford to see if they would be prepared to investigate the concern under warranty. I will let the Owners Club know if and when I have any success in solving the problem. Thanks again.

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Thank you for all your comments. It appears I do have a problem with the air con system on my car which doesn't seem to be common on all Lexus vehicles. I think I will start by changing the pollen filter to see what that looks like. I may even take the car to my local Lexus dealer at Woodford to see if they would be prepared to investigate the concern under warranty. I will let the Owners Club know if and when I have any success in solving the problem. Thanks again.

Your local Lexus Dealer will be able to sort this out very easily. Take it in for an Air Conditioning Service. They will empty th old refridgerant, pressure test the system and fill it with new gas. They will also clean and disinfect the system with an anti bacterial conditioner which should kill your mould !!

The Ed

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  • 1 month later...

Hi Doug,

I am also experiencing this smell from the air con. I have replaced the pollen filter which sorted the smell for about a week but then it came back. Have you had any luck in finding out what is causing the smell?

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This sounds (smells!) like the well-known problem of fungus in the air-conditioning system. The cheapest and one of the most effective cures is to run the aircon at full power and with the heat turned up - the smell typiclly disappears after a few minutes. There are some discussions of the problem in the forum. I lived for some years in the USA where temperatures and humidity tended to encourage the growth of fungus and I think that, once the system is affected, it is difficult to purge it of every single spore, so the fungus grows back. It's probably a bit like black mould in a bathroom - once there it can't be irradicated entirely and always returns.

+1

if running at full power with the heat on doesn't work then get an air con bomb (cleaner) from Halfords etc. You set them off inside the vehicle and leave for 10-15 mins to kill all bacteria (remove pollen filter first).

Replacing the pollen filter isn't a solution unless the old one has mould on it. The new one will absorb the smells for a few days until all the charcoal is saturated and then becomes ineffective. You need to stop the cause at the source and then replace the filter.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Alan,

I have just read your message about a smell you are also getting from your Air Con system. I can't say the smell I was experiencing has gone away completely I think I have just got used to it. I did check the pollen filter but it looked fairly new so I did not replace it. One thing I did try which seemed to reduce the smell slightly and that was running the AC system with the temperature set to maximum for about ten minutes but I had to open the windows because the interior temperature became over powering.

Sorry I haven't anything more positive to report.

DougB

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Hi Alan,

I have just read your message about a smell you are also getting from your Air Con system. I can't say the smell I was experiencing has gone away completely I think I have just got used to it. I did check the pollen filter but it looked fairly new so I did not replace it. One thing I did try which seemed to reduce the smell slightly and that was running the AC system with the temperature set to maximum for about ten minutes but I had to open the windows because the interior temperature became over powering.

Sorry I haven't anything more positive to report.

DougB

DougB - you don't have to sit in the car when doing this. Get an Air Con Bomb (as previoiusly mentioned), leave the key fob in the car and wait outside. This worked for me with a cheapo one from Aldi which took 20mins :)

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