Does your Model 3 smell? Here’s how to fix it.

Brenden Mulligan
Nov 23, 2019 · 3 min read

I adore my Model 3. But it started to stink. Literally, it smelled horrible when the A/C came on. A musty smell of stinky feet. Yeah, gross.

The smell is most likely coming from either your air filters or your A/C coils. A ton of owners have this issue, and Tesla has acknowledged it, but won’t cover it as a warranty issue. So, you’re going to have to spend some cash to have it fixed. Here are two options.

Note: If you can’t get rid of the smell and decide to replace the whole car, use this referral code for a bunch of free supercharging miles: https://ts.la/brenden44766 😊

Have Tesla fix it: ~$150

I originally scheduled service with Tesla (before fixing it myself). They seemed aware of the issue and sent me an estimate a few weeks after I first scheduled the mobile service appointment.

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If I hadn’t already ordered the supplies to fix it myself, I probably would have just had them do it. $150 isn’t horrible considering they drive to your house/work, fix everything, and you have to do nothing.

Fix it yourself: $34, 1 hour

If you want to DIY, it takes a bit of time but isn’t too hard.

Again, the smell is coming from your air filters or A/C coils. So first, order supplies to address both. Get these air filters ($28 at time of writing), and this can of coil foam cleaner ($6).

To replace the filters and clean the coils, you need to access the air intake through the floor area of the passenger seat. Warning, this kinda sucks. It’s in a really awkward spot. But, not impossible.

Get to the air filters through the side of the console on the passenger side

The easiest way to understand how to do it is to watch this video (clicking play will start you when he starts removing the panels).

Once you have opened the air filter compartment, take them out and throw them away. Then, angle your spray can and spray inside the compartment agains the coils. I used my iPhone camera in video mode with flash on to check to make sure I was getting them completely covered. In the end, they should be covered in foam, which you can see by clicking play on the video below.

Note: If you find a foam cleaner with a hose, use that. I was able to easily do it with my bottle, but would have been easier with hose. The stuff the guy in the video was using wasn’t available on Amazon.

After you cover the coils, let the foam dry for 20–30 mins, run the A/C on low for another 15 minutes, and put the air filters back in. I then left the A/C on for about 30 minutes with the windows vented.

After that’s done, you should be driving a odor free Model 3 again (except the cleaner’s lemon odor, which goes away after a day).

Hope that helps!

Brenden Mulligan

Written by

Entrepreneur & Designer. Currently helping with product @Google via @LaunchKit acquisition. Co-founder of @Cluster. Tweets at @mulligan, views are my own.

Brenden Mulligan

Written by

Entrepreneur & Designer. Currently helping with product @Google via @LaunchKit acquisition. Co-founder of @Cluster. Tweets at @mulligan, views are my own.

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