2017 Ford Explorer - AC smell

Dear Cartalk
I have a 2017 Ford limited Explorer and it a very nice vehicle but there seems to be a smell emulating when I use the AC. Now, if I keep it in inside air, there is no problem but if I was to have outside air, which I like, it smells like there was a cat party. I have changed the cabin filter twice and have cleaned the cabin filter box. Still nothing. I do notice that when I wash the vehicle at a car wash, I can smell it outside of the vehicle. Is there anything I can do to get rid of the smell?
Herman Brysch
San Antonio, Tx

I know there is something that you or somebody with a lift and about seven hours can do. It sounds expensive and probably involves removing ducts. Removing the filters and looking through a bore scope could be an idea. Removing the squirrel wheel (fan) could reveal more. When they say it smells like something died in there, it could be true. Your blend door positioner in that position could be heating up but I never heard of that being a cause. I had better stop before I keep on making things up.

During that period of time but the next time you drive the vehicle there will be an odor. Stop using recirculation and your A/C will smell clean.

When using the recirculate mode, respiratory moisture is collected on the A/C evaporator coil, this incubates while the vehicle is parked and produces a foul odor.

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Regularly changing the cabin filter can also help.

You could put air fresheners in your air ducts. Not a permanent fix but it might help a little. See if your engine bay smells the same and if it does, you might have some dead animal in it or be leaking some fluid. If you can’t smell it in your engine bay, it’s gotta be in the ducts. Try to reach down into them and see if you can feel anything furry…

Try turning off the AC 5 minutes before you stop, that will dry out the condensation that is feeding the source of the smell.

It was 115 F yesterday, I think the evaporator would dry out in 90 seconds while the passengers sweat.

Fresh air smells better than bad breath and sweat.