Car is about 14 years old but very sparsely driven. Recently serviced, turns out radiator was empty, and then radiator fluid was added. Later on a leak was detected in radiator fluid which was fixed. Now, after three months of usage, turns out the air conditioning gives out a very noxious smoke (transparent) and is literally unbreathable, and gives the car passengers wheezing cough.

What are we doing wrong? I'd really appreciate if some expert gives us some advice before we go clueless to the repairman and we don't want to be taken for a ride.

  • I was unable to replicate this situation later, when taken to a service center. Service center professional thought it could have been something to do with the local environment, rather than the vehicle. Replaced cabin air filter, and later, air quality in cabin improved dramatically. Jun 28, 2018 at 0:36

1 Answer 1


In the '90's, R-12 was replaced by R-134a as the refrigerant used to run air-conditioning. The old R-12 posed several health and long-term environmental concerns, including the possibility of putting a hole in the ozone layer.

However, your car was made in this century, so we can safely assume that the manufacturers had upgraded to the safer R-134a. What are you smelling then?

Most likely, the drain on your air-conditioning is plugged, and the condensate drain has gotten filled with stagnant water. This produces an ideal breeding ground for mold and mildew. Hence, when you turn on your air-conditioning, the passengers are fumigated with the nauseating mold and mildew smells.

To test the hypothesis, turn on your car and leave it running for 10 minutes or so on a hot humid day. I know, not many of those left, lol. Then check under the car for a puddle of water. If it is non-existent, you can be relatively certain the drain is plugged.

Solution: You'll have to clean out the air-conditioning drain, but also take the A/C airbox apart to clean the mildew and mold spores out.


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