strange smell from A/C - Chevy Colorado & GMC Canyon
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post #1 of 95 (permalink) Old 06-10-2017, 10:48 AM Thread Starter
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strange smell from A/C

Hi all, hopefully i'm posting this in the proper area. Ride in question is a 17 Colorado bout 2 months old with 2,700 miles with about 2000 of those miles from a road trip. For about the last 300 or so miles there is an occasional bad smell coming from the vents. About the only way I can describe it is a chemical type smell.....either.....a hard core cleaning fluid......ammonia....etc or just something of this type. My first guess is theres an A/C problem....leak ? A/C still works, but can't think of anything else that could cause this kind of odor. So guess I have 2 questions....has anyone else had this issue, and does anyone know the base used in R-34 ?....ammonia...etc ? Any help would be appreciated.....Thanks
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post #2 of 95 (permalink) Old 06-10-2017, 11:06 AM
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R-134a
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1,1,...rafluoroethane

If anything you are smelling the POE oil (synthetic a/c oil), it gets a funky smell when exposed to moisture...kind of a rotten/chemical smell. Although if you have an A/C leak of any significant size the A/C will quit working as the refrigerant leaks out.
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post #3 of 95 (permalink) Old 06-10-2017, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by toby1954 View Post
Hi all, hopefully i'm posting this in the proper area. Ride in question is a 17 Colorado bout 2 months old with 2,700 miles with about 2000 of those miles from a road trip. For about the last 300 or so miles there is an occasional bad smell coming from the vents. About the only way I can describe it is a chemical type smell.....either.....a hard core cleaning fluid......ammonia....etc or just something of this type. My first guess is theres an A/C problem....leak ? A/C still works, but can't think of anything else that could cause this kind of odor. So guess I have 2 questions....has anyone else had this issue, and does anyone know the base used in R-34 ?....ammonia...etc ? Any help would be appreciated.....Thanks
Thats strange. R134a does "smell" but I wouldn't describe it like ammonia. (not sure how to describe it though). Seems to me if it was freon leaking that much the AC would be empty pretty quick. The only other thing in there to leak would be coolant and its not really like that either. That would be easy enough to test though. When the truck is cold take off the coolant cap and compare smells. I'm going to guess it is just new glues and plastics your smelling because its a new truck. Hope so anyway........

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post #4 of 95 (permalink) Old 06-10-2017, 03:20 PM
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Did someone fill the windshield washer tank with ammonia?

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post #5 of 95 (permalink) Old 06-10-2017, 03:55 PM
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i also have a 2017 Colorado and i'm getting these same smells off and on with the a/c on. was going to wait till my first oil change to have it looked into since the a/c still blows cold.
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post #6 of 95 (permalink) Old 06-10-2017, 04:27 PM Thread Starter
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Thats strange. R134a does "smell" but I wouldn't describe it like ammonia. (not sure how to describe it though). Seems to me if it was freon leaking that much the AC would be empty pretty quick. The only other thing in there to leak would be coolant and its not really like that either. That would be easy enough to test though. When the truck is cold take off the coolant cap and compare smells. I'm going to guess it is just new glues and plastics your smelling because its a new truck. Hope so anyway........
I'm thinking (and hoping) along the same lines as you. just some of the new stuff burning/wearing off. But it didn't start doing it till the past 300 miles or so. Seems like your thoughts and mine would have it smelling from the get go and then be burned off by now. Always something........thanks.
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post #7 of 95 (permalink) Old 06-10-2017, 06:21 PM
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I also occasionally get the smell in my 2016 Colorado but couldn't describe the smell so didn't post it. It seems to occur when I lower the A/C speed then turn it up again.
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post #8 of 95 (permalink) Old 06-10-2017, 08:50 PM
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I have it too. A 2016 Colorado. Happens whenever I make a quick stop. I mentioned it to my dealer and they coated the heat exchanger because they said it mildew build up. Still stinks after a short stop. I thought it was freon as well but the AC works great even after a year. I have to have the truck inspected this month, plan on asking again.
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post #9 of 95 (permalink) Old 06-11-2017, 02:19 PM Thread Starter
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Well i'm certainly glad to hear others having same issue. Can't speak for all and as mentioned the smell is a hard one to describe, but i'm pretty sure it isn't mildew build up. The odor is however extremely strong and it seems like something that if you smelled too much of it then you may become comatose....LOL. I must admit that after 50 years of doing 90% of my own vehicle repairs that i've never smelled anything like this associated with an automobile. I haven't noticed any certain time it happens but i'll start being more diligent about trying to pin it down. Thanks for all the post and am still open to any good opinions......thanks.
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post #10 of 95 (permalink) Old 06-11-2017, 07:36 PM
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I don't have a smell with mine, but with the a/c on and even more with recirculation you get a metallic taste. Was really bad when the truck was brand new last year in September, it even made the wife sick. Dealer I bought it from said it was probably b/c it was a new car. It is still there now but very slight. If I get some time here I may take it in to see what they say, since I now have the rattle from the passenger side which should be the ecm. The truck has 5600 on it
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post #11 of 95 (permalink) Old 06-11-2017, 11:27 PM
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I get this too. It's not the funky mildew build up smell I've experienced in previous vehicles, but it's like a chemical smell as the OP describes. I have it going in to the dealer on Tuesday.

My truck is a 2017 and I have over 4300 miles on it.

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post #12 of 95 (permalink) Old 06-12-2017, 12:46 AM
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I've got the same smell. No idea what it is.
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post #13 of 95 (permalink) Old 06-12-2017, 09:42 AM
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There is a preventative for some AC odors, but may not fix those already there.

Have your dealer enable AfterBlow which will run the heater fan a few times after the truck has been used with AC on. AC is on far more than one realizes because it is used to not only cool but to dehumidify the air inside the truck and on the windows.

AfterBlow can only be enabled by a GM scan tool. It should be an owner available option, but for some reason it is not.

The purpose is to dry the evaporator and prevent creation of mildew which is the cause for many odors inside a vehicle.
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post #14 of 95 (permalink) Old 06-12-2017, 10:33 AM Thread Starter
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I get this too. It's not the funky mildew build up smell I've experienced in previous vehicles, but it's like a chemical smell as the OP describes. I have it going in to the dealer on Tuesday.

My truck is a 2017 and I have over 4300 miles on it.
That sounds good. If you get the chance shoot a post back if you get any good info from the dealer....Thanks.
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post #15 of 95 (permalink) Old 06-12-2017, 10:19 PM
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I have the same issue on my '17. It does not happen on first start up like I have treated on some German cars with the ultra sonic treatment/ ensure the drain works etc. technical bulletin... Mine takes about 20 minutes into my ride home from work, going from high speed fan to low speed fan(cabin is quite cool at this point....brrr!) It is horrible, almost headache causing. I driven home with the windows down from this twice. Seeing this tread was a relief it just wasn't me. Note: I know what 134a/pag oil smells like...yet I haven't had to do any repairs with the new R1234 that's being used in this truck, so I don't know that smell yet...
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post #16 of 95 (permalink) Old 06-13-2017, 01:14 AM
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Originally Posted by beerballin View Post
I have the same issue on my '17. It does not happen on first start up like I have treated on some German cars with the ultra sonic treatment/ ensure the drain works etc. technical bulletin... Mine takes about 20 minutes into my ride home from work, going from high speed fan to low speed fan(cabin is quite cool at this point....brrr!) It is horrible, almost headache causing. I driven home with the windows down from this twice. Seeing this tread was a relief it just wasn't me. Note: I know what 134a/pag oil smells like...yet I haven't had to do any repairs with the new R1234 that's being used in this truck, so I don't know that smell yet...
1234 is in the 17s?

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post #17 of 95 (permalink) Old 06-13-2017, 01:54 AM
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Originally Posted by njacobsen View Post
There is a preventative for some AC odors, but may not fix those already there.

Have your dealer enable AfterBlow which will run the heater fan a few times after the truck has been used with AC on. AC is on far more than one realizes because it is used to not only cool but to dehumidify the air inside the truck and on the windows.

AfterBlow can only be enabled by a GM scan tool. It should be an owner available option, but for some reason it is not.

The purpose is to dry the evaporator and prevent creation of mildew which is the cause for many odors inside a vehicle.
Interesting! I've never heard of that. I'm thinking I should have that done when I get my truck. Here in the NW AC can be pretty intermittent use.

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post #18 of 95 (permalink) Old 06-13-2017, 01:58 PM
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I've been noticing a rotten egg type of smell, but only when I accelerate medium-full amount. A few friends said it might be catalytic converter but I can smell it even with the windows closed and on the freeway. Wondering if what I'm smelling is what is being described here. Looking forward to hearing the cause. Will have to see if A/C off I still smell it.
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post #19 of 95 (permalink) Old 06-13-2017, 03:00 PM
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I have this same type of thing on my '16 diesel (20200 miles) not sure how to describe it but at times it almost feels like an oily coating in my mouth or I can almost taste the smell... I know that sounds weird but its almost like that metallic taste you get when you suck on a penny or something... was worried that the fan was blowing oil vapor (not good to inhale at all) but after hours of running the A/C there is no residue on anything. I feel like it would have collected on the glass or something if it was actually blowing any oil.
I will pay closer attention to when it starts...I usually notice it after about 30 min of running the A/C on Med-Hi fan and lower than 69 degrees at highway speeds

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post #20 of 95 (permalink) Old 06-14-2017, 02:09 PM Thread Starter
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OK....after a few days of paying attention to this smell issue, it seems as though the smell doesn't come through until a warm start up after it's been sitting for a while. In other words, you get nothing on the first start up of the day when engine is cold, but if you've been driving and stop by a store or such for several minutes then when you come back out and go on your way thats when you'll get the odor. Doesn't last long, 2-3 minutes or so. Also doesn't happen after every re-start either, just sometimes. I dunno.....strange indeed.
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