Nasty vent smell in 2018 Chevrolet Equinox

I have a 2018 Equinox.
I am getting a nasty smell from my vents when I turn on my air. This has been happening since our weather changed and the temperatures started going up. These last couple of hot days, I have run the air more than I usually do. Today, I’m smelling that same odor on my cloths. This is not good!

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You may have rotting leaves or a dead mouse in the vent system of the car. You may also have a plugged drain in the AC system allowing buildup. I’d suggest filling up a gallon bucket with warm water and cleaning solution (not bleach - I like Odo-Ban) and pouring it onto the base of the windshield. That’s where the air intake is. Rinse off the painted areas it touched but don’t hose down the vent area. Let it sit overnight and rinse it off in the morning. If that helps but doesn’t remove all the smell, you can treat it again.

If that doesn’t help, take it to the dealer to have the drain un-plugged and the cabin filter, if it has one, replaced. This isn’t warranty, you will have to pay for this.

Hi everyone. I’m a newbie. I’ve heard car talk on 90.3 FM here in Cleveland, Ohio on Saturday mornings going back a ways. Always funny and informative, always enjoyed the show. Hopefully, this is the same connection and I might get some real answers.
I have a new (well, new to us. Purchased Feb 2018) 2018 Equinox Premier AWD with a nasty smell in the vents. We had a 2011 Equinox LT with exact same problem & visited our Dealer 6 times to try to let them take a wiff. This problem only happens between 40-50 degrees, after the car has set about 5-6 hours and lasts for about 15 minutes while driving / warming up. Really stinks like smelly feet/ socks. It started happening the beginning of this winter. Around September (we had an early start this year with practically no fall.) Had it to the Dealer twice to do oil changes with last one a week ago. Told them about it & we started going through the same routine. That is: We did not smell it. You should get the cabin filter replaced, possibly a blocked condensate drain or dead animal or bring it in when the smell occurs. I understand all of that and it makes sense. However, having the same issue with our last Equinox and finally getting it resolved with some special tool and some special coil coating/ cleaning worked. We had the 2011 vehicle for 7 years total, traded it in for the new one & the smell never returned in the 2011. The Dealer wanted us to purchase the tool for the Dealership and pay for all the chemicals to the tune of $1,300.00, which we finally agreed at $250.00 since it was past the 36,000 mile warranty.
I am in the HVAC business & went through a bad time with a manufacturer regarding “Dirty Socks Syndrome” This smell in new residential installations was almost exactly what we smell in both of our Equinox SUV’s The smell was caused by dirty recycled aluminum/ copper that apparently was used in the manufacturing process of the indoor heat pump or a/c only coils. When the indoor coils got wet from condensation during defrost or a/c mode, the smell would begin. Sometimes it would last 15-30 minutes, others every time the systems started. We were advised to let coil dry, coat it very well with 409 cleaner, rinse, repeat & let dry. Generally, this would do the trick, but we did have to replace some of the coils as we could not get rid of smell. Expensive repair with very little money from our Distributor or Manufacturer. So, this must be a pain to fix with very little money from Chevy to face & fix the problem. Can there be only two of us here that stink?
Just kidding. If anyone has insight on this as to how to approach & get it done, please advise.
Thanks for letting me babble. Bigger issues in our world than stinky coils, huh?

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I just bought a 2020 Equinox with the same vent Oder. To dealer twice. Just being told a know issue with no fix. What is this tool and exactly what was done to solve the issue on your 2011 equinox.


dealer Knows how to fix issue but choses not too?

I have a 2019 with same/similar issues; the dealer is saying that Chevrolet will not fix since it is a known engineering issue. so I am just supposed to accept that a $32,000 car stinks and makes noises when I operate the AC? What a rip off. And I purchased the extended warranty package to boot since I am retired and don’t want a huge repair bill to pop up down the road.

My guess is condensation remaining and souring is the cause. One workaround could be to turn off the ac, not the fan maybe 5 minutes before you stop for the day to reduce the condensation issue.

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Hi. I just had the same issue with my 2020 Equinox. Turns out, there was 3 inches of water under my spare tire. They sucked it out, and it started filling again. I have a leak somewhere in the vehicle. They have it right now, and I am hoping they find it quickly. Might not hurt to mention this to you dealer so they can check for moisture. Good luck!