Ford F-150/F-250: How to Eliminate A/C Smell

If you are getting a bad odor from your Ford F-150 or Super Duty's A/C vents, use the steps below to eliminate it.

November 24, 2014

This article applies to the Ford F-150 (2004-2014), and the F-250, F-350 Super Duty (2005-2014).

Although bad A/C smell is unpleasant, it is relatively common in all types of vehicles, particularly after the car or truck has been sitting for an extended amount of time, or if the A/C unit has not been used recently. The most common culprits for A/C smells are mold and mildew, which often requires a minimal amount of time and effort to repair.

Materials Needed

  • Anti-odor product such as Lysol or Ozium
  • Small piece of wire for clogged A/C drain
  • Screwdriver

Step 1 - Turn on the A/C

Turn the A/C on high. The goal in this step is to get a better idea of what the scent is and where it is coming from. A general smell likely indicates a buildup of mold, crushed leaves, or mildew in the system, while a smell that is concentrated on one side may mean a blocked A/C drain.

Step 2 - Determine where the smell is coming from

If the smell is most noticeable on the fresh air setting, it is likely that the problem lies outside of the A/C system. For this type of smell, remove the truck's wiper arms and plastic cowl cover on the outside by removing their screws with the screwdriver. Once these items are removed, check for any buildup or even an animal that may have died, and remove any noticeable problems. If you don't see a problem but your truck still suffers from a foul odor, try spraying an odor-neutralizing product, such as Lysol, into the area then replace the wiper arms and plastic cowl.

Figure 1. Remove the cowl.

Step 3 - Look for interior dampness or wetness

In most cases, a damp, wet, or moist interior signals a problem within the A/C system. Oftentimes the culprit is a blocked A/C drain . This is especially true if water or condensation appears on the passenger's side underneath the floor mat.

Step 4 - Unclog the A/C drain

For most Ford truck owners, unclogging the a/c drain is a relatively simple and straightforward process that only requires a piece of thin wire or similar material to stick into the drain. To get started, crawl underneath the truck and locate the firewall right along the dash area. There should be an open-ended hose here. Use the wire or other material to clean out and unclog the inside of this hose.

Figure 2. Unclog the A/C drain.

Featured Video: Cleaning A/C Drain

Step 5 - Spray odor-neutralizing product into A/C vents

If you're experiencing a musty or mildewy smell and are sure that the smell is not coming from the exterior vents or the A/C drain, it's time to take your odor-neutralizing product of choice and spray it into the A/C vents. Most Ford truck owners prefer Ozium or Lysol to ensure a clean, fresh scent. After spraying through the vents, you may want to let the A/C system run on high for several minutes to dry out existing mold, mildew, or bacteria.

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