Common issue in a lot of vehicles. I've owned three other vehicles with cabin air filters and all of them gave off a nasty (sweaty feet) smell when running the air conditioner. Most of the fixes included, running the air conditioner full blast, but that doesn't help much, changing the cabin filter (gets expensive), and using a drier sheet with the cabin air filter. For the most part, I had to put up with the smell when first running the air conditioner. It took about 4 or 5 minutes to get rid of the smell. The other vehicles were Toyotas, but this is a very common complaint from all manufacturers who put cabin air filters in their vehicles.
I recently encountered the same issue with the ventilation in my 2013 JKU. Will check the cabin air filter. Where do you spray the AC duct cleaner?
What do the directions say on the cleaner? My guess would be to spray right down into the AC ducts. After all, they connect directly to the place where the smell is originating --- that would be the evaporator core/ box assembly.
The cabin air filter is for dust and will not control the smell at all. Lysol is quick and cheap as it kills bacteria on the evaporator. I fight with this problem every spring at the dealership I work at.
I remember reading that this issue is generally caused by a clogged drain line. The water can't escape the system so it grows mold. As truthiness said, see if you have water on the passenger side floor, I believe that's where it generally backs up. I'm no expert on this though.
I have the same problem on my '12. I found that by pressing the fan speed button to place it in recirc mode and then back to fresh air mode, the smell goes away. It's almost like even though the light is off for RECIRC, it starts in RECIRC mode.
Works for me.
Wrong Way Hal
1972 C-101 / 1984 CJ-7 / 2012 JKR
I was also reading up online and it seems that you shouldn't drive with your AC in Recirculation mode all the time. Supposedly driving in Fresh Air mode for a while will help prevent mold buildup on the evaporator. A quick way to check to see if the drain tube is plugged is see if condensation drips from underneath Jeep when AC is on (I think everyone knows that). If not, spray a can of compressed air up the drain tube.
Just to add to the last post...the drain line is on top of my auto trans.
I would pull the glove box, remove cabin filters, spray down toward e-vap with ac on with the cleaner, all doors open (strong stuff) shoot about half a can.
Also, pick up two new cabin filters at rockauto.com, best price I have found.
My JKU is about a year old, and as of yesterday, there is a sour smell that comes from the ac when I turn it on. It smells like clothes that is left in the washing machine too long.
It is only noticeable when the ac is on, and the odor goes away when its turned off. Anyone else have an experience with anything like this?
In every vehicle I have ever owned.
For me it is only present when the AC is set to recirculate which I always avoid. The problem is that many newer vehicles run in recirculation mode automatically when the outside temperature reaches a certain level. In my Ram that is 75 degrees. If I press the recirculate button nothing happens but the light will come on indicating recirculation mode. If I press it again it will turn off and the smell goes away.
I have also heard that many systems will activate the AC with or without the recirculation once in a while to help with removing unwanted moisture.