2019 Hyundai Kona Strong Chemical Smell Through Air Vents

Discussion in 'Hyundai Kona Electric' started by JDE1, Aug 18, 2019.

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  1. JDE1

    JDE1 New Member

    I just got my new Kona 2 weeks ago. I really like it except for one big problem, at times it emits a very strong chemical smell into the interior through the vents. It smells like the fertilizer section of a store. As long as the air conditioner is on and cooling it is fine. Say it is set at 70 - when it reaches 70 it begins to emit the odor - it is almost like it is emiting fumes from the battery. Is this normal? More importantly is it safe?
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  3. styx66

    styx66 New Member

    Doesn't sound normal or safe... But it could come down to just a perception of smell. Now and then i'll get that weird musty moldy? smell that all car a/c's spew out on occasion (i still don't know why), but otherwise i haven't smelled anything like you describe.

    I've found the air intake is pretty strong under the passenger dash, I went ahead and spritzed a seriously tiny spritz of febreeze air effects down there while the air was running at full blast. Yeah the car smelled like febreeze for that drive but the next day I couldn't smell it any more and I haven't picked up that musty smell since.
  4. JSU

    JSU New Member

    I smell those fertilizer odors sometimes when my car is charing in my hot garage. I would smell the same thing sometimes when I'd charge my old BMW i3 as well. But never through the vents of the Kona, I'd think that's abnormal.
  5. Kai Richardson

    Kai Richardson New Member

    I noticed the same odor for the first three or four weeks when I got my Kona EV Ultimate in May. I tended to notice it after a rain storm or after I put the car through the car wash, and only if using external air venting. The odor would go away if I turned on internal air circulation. After four weeks or so, it dissipated and now only occurs infrequently and at far lower odor levels. My guess is that water is spraying up onto something in the chassis and then as it evaporates some sort of chemical coating on the chassis or battery pack is evaporating off and that is causing the odor. But that is just a guess.
  6. JSU

    JSU New Member

    ALERT! I have made a recent discovery to where that fertilizer smell was coming from in my garage. My L2 Charging Station had been giving me fault lights that I have been able to successfully clear by turning the 50 amp breaker off and then on again. I could had also just pulled out the power plug but I have found it difficult to pull out. Well, based on the code the fault lights were giving, the Charging Station manufacturer sent me out a brand new one as they determined there was a problem happening with the unit's "contactor" which is the part that makes the thunk sound when charing starts. So when the new one arrived, I was taking down the old one off the wall, but I couldn't unplug it. So I shut off the circuit breaker and I had to really work to get it unplugged. I discovered that the outlet had partially melted!!!! So the plug was practically hot-glued into the outlet by one of it's prongs. I had an electrician replace the outlet last night, and when we pulled it out, guess what it smelled like.....like that same gassy fertilizer smell! So it would appear that the odor I had been smelling now and then was due to my outlet slowly melting! Here are some photos of the melted outlet. Now I know to check the plug and outlet once in a while and if I smell that oder again, I'll know what it is!

    IMG_3557.JPG IMG_3556.JPG IMG_3558.JPG
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  8. davidtm

    davidtm Active Member

    Was the outlet not adequate for the application, or was it faulty?
  9. JSU

    JSU New Member

    The outlet and the wiring are all to spec. A defect in the outlet is possible. However, someone just pointed out that the following could happen with high power outlets like this:

    "That's called thermal avalanche. Not good but easy to prevent. You just have to right the connections after they have been warned up. If the connections are allowed to remain looser then the next time it warms up there is more resistance the connection gets even looser, more resistance, more heat ECT ECT. Thermal avalanche"

    I thought this was very interesting since my electrician suspected that this could had been caused by arcing due to loose wiring.
  10. davidtm

    davidtm Active Member

    That is interesting. Thanks for the response
  11. Looks like a loose connection to me. Make sure to apply adequate torque. Probably damaged the old EVSE male connector as well.
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  13. Kai Richardson

    Kai Richardson New Member

    While it's awesome that JSU found the source of his particular odor, the issue at hand is the odor coming from the vents in the car, not just a smell in the garage. I googled a bit and the issue seems to be with car AC units in general, not just a Kona. The odor is described as a "fertilizer" smell or "manure" smell. The problem is due to mold and mildew in the AC lines and/or AC evaporator. According to the interwebs, there are inexpensive AC cleaner kits that can be used to kill the mold in the lines. Here is my analysis of why this may occur in a new car.

    1. The cars are shipped on freighters and then sit on huge lots before distribution to dealers. High humidity and condensation in the AC hoses and vents=mold and mildew growth.
    2. You buy the car and start using the AC. (It's been a very hot summer in the US...hottest ever, as a matter of fact.) This leads to the smell of mold and mildew spores coming through the vents.
    3. It gets better, but the mold and mildew don't completely die.
    4. Getting the car washed, a rain storm, or any other kind of high humidity conditions cause the mold to release spores...regrow, etc. which explains why the smell returns on occasion.
  14. Aslaug Jonasdottir

    Aslaug Jonasdottir New Member

    I have exactly the same problem. It does not smell at all like molt. The smell is more like chemicals, maybe plastic. It is like you say, only comes up when heater is more than 18 celsius. I was hoping it would go away with time. Have you found a solution yet or is it better JDE1?
  15. HudsonKona

    HudsonKona Member

    The first few weeks i had my kona it did have a smell coming out of the vents. Went away permanently thereafter with the help of a few air fresheners and spray.
    Never found the source, but the smell was more like a ‘dead-animal’ smell. We deduced that it was probably a mouse that got ‘roasted’ somehow. Could have gotten in during shipment or at dealer?
    Anyway, no problem anymore.

    Sent from my iPad using Inside EVs
  16. The cabin air filter is super easy to remove. When I removed mine there where dead insects inside (beatle like). Maybe check yours and vacuum it and the enclosure out. Just be careful of the fan blades ;)

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