Mold in Your Car’s AC Unit: Signs, Health Risks, Causes & Liability

Mold is a type of fungus that can grow practically anywhere, including in your vehicle’s air conditioning unit.

Mold in your car’s AC is typically hidden deep inside the dashboard, which makes it difficult to spot during the pre-purchase inspection of the vehicle. In fact, the signs of mold may not be obvious until the air conditioner has been turned on.

Mold exposure can cause a number of health problems, so this issue should not be taken lightly. It’s important to understand how mold forms, what signs you should look for, and who to hold liable in the event there is mold growing in your car’s AC.

What Are the Signs of Mold in Your Car’s Air Conditioning?

You will most likely smell mold in your vehicle’s AC before you see it. Mold has a very distinct, unpleasant smell that some people compare to a stuffy, dirty basement.

People who notice that the AC smells musty in their car may question, “Is there mold in my car’s AC unit?” The answer to this is most likely, yes.

Mold that isn’t controlled will continue to grow until it eventually reaches your car’s air vents. It will typically be black, olive green, or brown with a somewhat patchy appearance. Seeing this on your vents is a sign that mold is growing throughout your car’s AC system.

What Causes the Mold Smell in Your Car?

The AC in your car does not create its own air, so it has to pull air from either the outside or inside of your car to keep you cool.

The problem is that this air is moist and warm, so the unit has to cool it down and remove the moisture from it before sending it through your vents. Moisture from the air often starts to accumulate on the unit’s evaporator core, which is located inside the dashboard. The result is a damp, humid environment that encourages mold growth in the AC unit.

Health Risks of Exposure to Mold in Your Car’s AC

Don’t ignore the musty smell in your car’s AC. It’s important to avoid exposure to mold, not just because of the unpleasant smell, but also because of the serious health risks that it can cause.

Exposure can trigger allergic reactions

People who are allergic to mold can experience congestion, sore throat, coughing, wheezing, itchy eyes, and skin irritation after being exposed to this fungus.

Research links mold exposure to serious respiratory issues

People with allergies are not the only ones who are affected by mold exposure. In 2004, researchers at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found that exposure to mold can cause coughing, wheezing, and irritation in the respiratory system in otherwise healthy people.

That’s not all these researchers discovered. In the same study, researchers found that mold exposure can lead to serious lung infections in people with immune disorders or chronic lung conditions.

There is a link between mold exposure and asthma, too. Inhaling mold spores can trigger an asthma attack, causing shortness of breath, wheezing, and rapid breathing.

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health believe that being exposed to mold can also lead to the development of asthma in some cases. In one study, these researchers found that prolonged exposure to mold can increase a child’s risk of developing asthma.

Other symptoms are commonly reported

Some people who have been exposed to mold report other symptoms, including:

  • Headaches
  • Memory problems
  • Mood swings
  • General aches and pains

However, researchers have not been able to explain how mold causes these symptoms.

Can You Get Rid of the Moldy Smell in Your Car’s AC?

Removing the mold in your car’s AC is not as easy as it may seem.

Auto repair shops may charge hundreds of dollars simply to spray a disinfectant into the vents to kill mold growth. This is outrageously expensive and, unfortunately, it’s also ineffective.

Using a disinfectant spray is a temporary solution to the problem. It may kill the mold, but it does nothing to prevent it from coming back.

There’s also the option of replacing the entire AC system, but this can cost thousands of dollars. It doesn’t make sense to this much money to fix a problem that shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

Fortunately, there is another option. If there is mold in your vehicle’s AC, you may have the right to take legal action.

Who is Liable For the Musty Smell From Your Car’s Air Conditioner?

Each state has its own lemon laws that protect consumers who have purchased new or used defective vehicles. Thanks to these laws, the car’s manufacturer could be legally liable for the mold growing in your vehicle’s AC unit.

Your car must meet the legal definition of a “lemon” in order for you to hold the manufacturer liable. The legal definition of a lemon can vary from state-to-state.

It can also vary depending on whether your car is used or new, so it’s important to consult with an attorney to determine if your car is covered by new or used car lemon laws.

Liable vehicle manufacturers must refund or replace your car

If your car is a lemon, the manufacturer is legally obligated to issue you a refund for the vehicle or replace it at no cost.

But, securing a replacement or refund for your lemon car is not always easy. The vehicle owner and manufacturer may not see eye-to-eye, which can make it hard for both parties to reach an agreement.

If a settlement cannot be reached, the vehicle owner has the right to take further legal action against the manufacturer.

Questions About Mold and Mildew in Cars?

The dedicated team of attorneys at Robison Lemon Law Group is here to answer your questions regarding a mold or mildew smell in your car’s AC unit. To schedule a free consultation, contact us today via email or call us at 844-291-4377.