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2009 Chevy Malibu 2LT
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I use my AC on recirculate almost exclusively. I live in SW Florida so it is very hot and humid most of the time.
I have located the evaporator drain nipple on the firewall and run more than 2 feet of flexible wire up into the drain
tube.
This was no help as water flows out of the rubber nipple freely when the AC is on. I have sprayed several cans of Lysol
into cowl grill area. That lasts for a day or two.
Removed the cowl and checked that water flows freely out of the drivers side fender well while filling the area with
a garden hose. No water remains in the cowl area.
The same or similar odor exists outside of the car after it has been driven at 50 to 60 miles an hour with lots of stopping
in traffic.
There is no water in the car on either the drivers or passengers carpet or floor pans.
The odor seems to be strongest around the front and rear wheels on the drivers side.
Could the brake pads cause the odor once they are heated up?
The odor enters the cabin on outside vent more than recirculate but it enters on recirculate too.
The smell is toxic and irritates the breathing passages.
My Malibu is a 2009 LT2 with the 3.6L engine. I have had the sunroof drain tube drain problem and was able to fix it.
I have solved many more problems too. P0443 was an interesting one where a wire to the evap solenoid was broken
inside the insulation. That one took me a while and I threw parts at it before finding the root cause for the code.
Any ideas/solutions appreciated.
Thanks Fred
 

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Sounds like you have mold or some other nasty critters growing in your HVAC system. This is common with AC use. To prevent, turn off the AC 3 minutes before before arriving at your destination, but leave the fan on for those 3 minutes. This will dry out the evaporator core before parking. An expensive scan tool can be used to activate "after blow" in the HVAC computer. This runs the fan for a few minutes after your car is parked. Again, this removes any excess condensation from the evaporator core.

I am not familiar with your exact car, but with many cars, after removing the blower fan the evaporator core can be seen very easily. Perhaps removing the fan will allow you to clean and disinfect the offending item.
 

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2009 Chevy Malibu 2LT
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the suggestion. I have tried leaving the fan on high with AC off several times. So far it hasn't helped. What I have tried specifically is turning the ac off, turning the fan to high and outside air. I've also tried in recirculate but on my car it seems the like the ac is on when I'm in recirculate? I've left the fan on high for 5 minutes before shutting the engine down. I've read about programming the "after blow" with the tech2 tool but haven't had that done. I have shut the engine down and run the fan with key on for 5 minutes a few times. That didn't seem to help.
 

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I believe the AC runs when you select recirculate so you need to select outside air 3 minutes before your drive ends. If the blower motor comes out easily, it would be interesting to have a look in there for mold.
 

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2009 Chevy Malibu 2LT
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I believe the AC runs when you select recirculate so you need to select outside air 3 minutes before your drive ends. If the blower motor comes out easily, it would be interesting to have a look in there for mold.
Good idea. I will see if I can remove the blower motor. I’m still concerned that the same odor exists near the wheels. When I exit the car the smell is strong whether the cabin smells or not?
Thx 👍
 

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2011 Malibu LTZ 3.6L V6 Red Jewel Tintcoat
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The AC turns on without the AC light turning on at these times:
  • Recirculate
  • Windshield defog, full or partial
You can see about having a friend or a dealer turn on the "afterblow" feature. It's part of the programming but is turned off by default. I have it turned on in mine. It waits about 5-10 minutes after the engine is shut off, and if the AC has been run, it'll run the blower on full speed for about 2-3 minutes.

What it accomplishes is to help dry the moisture collecting on the AC condenser before it gets hot from the refrigerant pressures equalizing, which makes the condenser heat up. That is what encourages bacteria to grow, and they are what make the bad smells.

You can get some condenser cleaner and treat the condenser. I use Klima Cleaner Pro. I haven't done my Malibu yet, but I did my Nissan Xterra SUV and it was super easy. Spray the whole can, wait 20 minutes, turn the fan on High for 3 minutes, done.

If you haven't done the cabin air filter mod, consider doing that, too, as it helps prevent contaminates from collecting on the condenser, and it's a great opening for the tube to foam up the condenser. This is my Xterra's box. The Malibu's filter is horizontal.

Fluid Cylinder Font Liquid Paint
Wood Window Gas Tints and shades Metal
 

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Recirc. just keeps mold spores inside the car. After cleaning do not use recirculate as you want to drive that junk out of the car and not keep it recirculating. Fresh air is pulled in at the windshield base so use a cleaner in there also.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The AC turns on without the AC light turning on at these times:
  • Recirculate
  • Windshield defog, full or partial
You can see about having a friend or a dealer turn on the "afterblow" feature. It's part of the programming but is turned off by default. I have it turned on in mine. It waits about 5-10 minutes after the engine is shut off, and if the AC has been run, it'll run the blower on full speed for about 2-3 minutes.

What it accomplishes is to help dry the moisture collecting on the AC condenser before it gets hot from the refrigerant pressures equalizing, which makes the condenser heat up. That is what encourages bacteria to grow, and they are what make the bad smells.

You can get some condenser cleaner and treat the condenser. I use Klima Cleaner Pro. I haven't done my Malibu yet, but I did my Nissan Xterra SUV and it was super easy. Spray the whole can, wait 20 minutes, turn the fan on High for 3 minutes, done.

If you haven't done the cabin air filter mod, consider doing that, too, as it helps prevent contaminates from collecting on the condenser, and it's a great opening for the tube to foam up the condenser. This is my Xterra's box. The Malibu's filter is horizontal.

View attachment 71721 View attachment 71722
Great info. guys.
I am thinking about drilling a hole where the filter would go on my 2009 malibu and spraying "Kool It" in to get to the evaporator coil. I've seen on youtube some spray it into the center outlet vent and others from the interior and claim it works to clean the evaporator. Waiting for Kool It to arrive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Great info. guys.
I am thinking about drilling a hole where the filter would go on my 2009 malibu and spraying "Kool It" in to get to the evaporator coil. I've seen on youtube some spray it into the center outlet vent and others from the interior and claim it works to clean the evaporator. Waiting for Kool It to arrive.
A few weeks ago while working on the evaporator drain I found a white plastic plug in the end of the line. Access from the engine compartment was very difficult so I made up a tool with a sharp chisel and long rod. I was able to pry and push the plastic plug out of the line. Later I noticed that the bottom half of the rubber nipple was missing and now I'm concerned that condensate may flow back into the car at the firewall. There is no sign of water on the carpet though
on either side. I had read that some owners believed that the grommet around the rubber nipple was cracked and leaking condensate back into the car due to air movement while driving. I'm hoping I didn't put that problem in the car
by removing the plastic plug ;-(
 

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I had water entering the trunk of my 2009 due to a leaking plug/grommet in the rear fender by the side marker. Found water sloshing around in the spare tire well .
Also had leak in the passenger floor due to bad caulking causing the carpet to get damp. Found it by spraying a hose at it from underneath
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
A few weeks ago while working on the evaporator drain I found a white plastic plug in the end of the line. Access from the engine compartment was very difficult so I made up a tool with a sharp chisel and long rod. I was able to pry and push the plastic plug out of the line. Later I noticed that the bottom half of the rubber nipple was missing and now I'm concerned that condensate may flow back into the car at the firewall. There is no sign of water on the carpet though
on either side. I had read that some owners believed that the grommet around the rubber nipple was cracked and leaking condensate back into the car due to air movement while driving. I'm hoping I didn't put that problem in the car
by removing the plastic plug ;-(
I received the can of Kool It with the plastic hose. I emptied the can into the center duct on the dashboard and fed the hose into the airbox as far in as it would go. It worked great for a couple of days. No musty air at all. Today I drove the car 20 miles and used the AC on outside air. I turned the ac off for the last 3 miles of the trip. Started the car and ran the fan without the ac on. After a couple of miles I had to make a quick left the right turn and the smell was as bad as ever or maybe a little worse. I had to open the windows and it started to make me feel bad. My throat and nasal passages became irritated. It seemed like the turns after the thermostat opened based on the radiator fan caused the odor to fill the cabin. I think it is toxic. Not sure what to try at this point as I''ve had the cowl off and cleaned the evaporator and drain line. I may have to take it to the dealer and see about the auto blow programming that is supposed to dry out the evaporator after ac use.
 

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2011 Malibu LTZ 3.6L V6 Red Jewel Tintcoat
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If taking corners did all that, then I would guess that either your cowl drain is plugged or your AC drain is plugged.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
If taking corners did all that, then I would guess that either your cowl drain is plugged or your AC drain is plugged.
When I had the cowl off I noticed the sheet metal in the plenum area had a drain on the drivers side out through the fender and fender liner. The area on the passenger side is higher and is where the evaporator coil, fan, I think heater core is. If water is held on the drivers side and you make a turn it could move passed the raised sheet metal to the passenger side. I don't know where or if there is a drain for the passenger side. I ran a garden hose into the plenum
on the drivers side and it seemed to drain pretty well. The evap drain line drips condensate when you have the ac on.
I rodded it out and removed the plastic plug. I noticed there is a tsb about the odor and evap coil repair kit? I see that I can subscribe to alldata.com for a month for about 20 bucks. I'm thinking it might be worth it? Anyone done this and was it helpful?
Thanks,
Fred
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
When I had the cowl off I noticed the sheet metal in the plenum area had a drain on the drivers side out through the fender and fender liner. The area on the passenger side is higher and is where the evaporator coil, fan, I think heater core is. If water is held on the drivers side and you make a turn it could move passed the raised sheet metal to the passenger side. I don't know where or if there is a drain for the passenger side. I ran a garden hose into the plenum
on the drivers side and it seemed to drain pretty well. The evap drain line drips condensate when you have the ac on.
I rodded it out and removed the plastic plug. I noticed there is a tsb about the odor and evap coil repair kit? I see that I can subscribe to alldata.com for a month for about 20 bucks. I'm thinking it might be worth it? Anyone done this and was it helpful?
Thanks,
Fred
Today I drove the Malibu and did not use the AC, heat, or the fan. The smell is from the engine compartment, or
underneath the car. It is strong around the front and rear wheels. I think one of the fluids must drip onto the exhaust because the smell goes away after the car cools. Today the outside temperature was only 70 F or so which is cool
for SW Florida. When I turned onto the main road the smell came into the cabin and I had to roll the windows down.
I was driving for about 10 miles made another left turn and stopped in traffic. The odor was very strong again and
I closed the drivers window and opened the passenger window to limit the smell entering the cabin. I don't see smoke from a liquid burning on the exhaust system. The fact that it is related to turning might indicate it has something to do with the power steering pump or fluid. The smell is like a mold smell but I may be wrong. It is a bad smell worse than unburned power steering, transmission fluids or antifreeze. My Dexcool was replaced about 5 years ago and is still orange and smells sweet. I've smelled the power steering and transmission fluids and it is not the same and the smell I get in the cabin, engine compartment and under the car. A while back I ran the engine long enough to get the odor but didn't drive the car to make sure it wasn't the brake pads or tires. I'm wondering if the ac condenser or radiator is the source of the odor? I think I got off the track with the ac evaporator but think it is something else now.
Any ideas or somebody who has had this problem ?
Thanks again for your input guys (especially Driven Daily) ;-)
 

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2011 Malibu LTZ 3.6L V6 Red Jewel Tintcoat
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You may have hit some critter and parts of it could still be stuck to your car.
 

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I rodded it out and removed the plastic plug. I noticed there is a tsb about the odor and evap coil repair kit? I see that I can subscribe to alldata.com for a month for about 20 bucks. I'm thinking it might be worth it? Anyone done this and was it helpful?
Thanks,
Fred
I have multiyear subscriptions to Alldata for my fleet. Even if seems to be a simple job I'll consult it for any tips or tricks.
It is intense and geared to the pro but IMO a great resource.
 
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