Toyota Air Conditioner Smells Like Mold

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#hvac #lawsuit

Toyota vehicles have defective heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems that cause smells and health problems from mold that collects on the evaporators. Numerous complaints have been filed with, the government, Toyota and Lexus dealerships nationwide since at least 1999.

Mold and Must Technical Service Bulletins

Toyota first sent dealerships TSB AC002-97 in May 1997. The TSB told technicians about customers complaining of musty odors coming from the air conditioners. The bulletin said the smells could arise from blocked evaporator housing drain pipes that cause condensation on the systems.

In August 2009, Toyota issued another bulletin (TSB-0261-09) about musty smells in certain Camry, Camry HV and Prius cars. The TSB said the automaker had created a new evaporator sub-assembly to "decrease the potential for HVAC odor.” TSB-0261-09 was last updated in November 2011.

Toyota and Lexus dealers received another TSB in September 2013 titled “HVAC Odor Maintenance,” but the bulletin admitted there was no way to eliminate the smells.

Where's the Smell Coming From?

Toyota blames the smells on “[m]icrobes [i.e., mold] growing on the evaporator surface” including “small living bacteria . . . carried into the evaporator case [that] grow in the warm, moist environment."

Moldy Air Conditioning Lawsuit

According to a 2018 lawsuit, Toyota has created a manual called "Toyota Air Conditioning and Climate Control Course 752" about the musty air conditioning systems. In the manual, Toyota admits the smells “are a common complaint among users” and “there is no permanent mechanical repair” for the odors.

In addition to the moldy musty odors and possible health consequences, the plaintiffs claim the airbag modules are damaged when water leaks onto the modules from the HVAC systems. Damage to the modules can cause illuminated airbag warning lights, airbag failures or inadvertent airbag deployments.

As for what is causing the alleged problem, the lawsuit says the air conditioner systems don't properly remove water from the evaporators and from the enclosures that contain the evaporators. Mold and other contaminants grow on the evaporators and are sent into the passenger cabins by the blowers.

Toyota had previously been sued in 2016 by Camry owners for moldy smell problems.

Lawsuits Regarding This Problem

Lawsuits about this problem have already been filed in court. Many times these are class-action suits that look to cover a group of owners in a particular area. Click on the lawsuit for more information and to see if you're eligible to receive any potential settlements.

  • Stockinger, et al., v. Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

    1. Case Filed

      A Toyota air conditioner smell lawsuit alleges numerous Toyota and Lexus models build up mold on the evaporators and send musty moldy odors into the vehicles.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2010-2015 4Runner
    • 2007-2015 Avalon
    • 2013-2015 Avalon HV
    • 2009-2015 Corolla
    • 2008-2015 Highlander
    • 2008-2015 Highlander HV
    • 2008-2015 Land Cruiser
    • 2009-2015 Matrix
    • 2006-2015 Prius
    • 2012-2015 Prius C
    • 2010-2015 Prius PHV
    • 2012-2015 Prius V
    • 2006-2015 RAV4
    • 2008-2015 Sequoia
    • 2004-2015 Sienna
    • 2007-2015 Tundra
    • 2009-2015 Venza
    • 2007-2015 Yaris
    • 2007-2014 FJ Cruiser
  • Salas, et al., v. Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. Inc., et al.

    1. Case Filed

      The plaintiffs claim the evaporator allows mold to grow and creates a hazard to occupants. The evaporator, used with the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, allegedly collects moisture due to condensation as it absorbs heat from the passenger compartment.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2011-2017 Camry

Generations Where This Problem Has Been Reported

This problem has popped up in the following Toyota generations.

Most years within a generation share the same parts and manufacturing process. You can also expect them to share the same problems. So while it may not be a problem in every year yet, it's worth looking out for.

Further Reading

A timeline of stories related to this problem. We try to boil these stories down to the most important bits so you can quickly see where things stand. Interested in getting these stories in an email? Signup for free email alerts for your vehicle over at

  1. Toyota has blamed a musty A/C smell on microbes [i.e., mold] growing o the evaporator surface and now a lawsuit wants them to do something about it.

    The plaintiffs claim the vehicles have defective heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems that cause smells and health problems from mold that collects on the evaporators. Numerous complaints have allegedly been filed with the government, Toyota and Lexus dealerships nationwide since at least 1999.

    This isn't the first time Toyota has been sued for musty A/C units.

    keep reading article "Air Conditioner Lawsuit Complains About Mold Smell From Toyota HVAC"
  2. The Toyota Camry stinks and now there's a lawsuit intent on proving it

    . The Camry's ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC) uses an evaporator inside the vehicle's dashboard. According to the plaintiffs, as cold refrigerant passes into the evaporator it mixes with warm air from the passenger cabin to create moisture. The condenser moisture mixes with things from the HVAC's outside vents – dead insects, pollen, leaves, and other fun stuff – to eventually turn into a moldy and stinky mess.…

    keep reading article "Toyota Camry Musty A/C Lawsuit"

OK, Now What?

Maybe you've experienced this problem. Maybe you're concerned you will soon. Whatever the reason, here's a handful of things you can do to make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

  1. File Your Complaint is a free site dedicated to uncovering problem trends and informing owners about potential issues with their cars. Major class action law firms use this data when researching cases.

    Add a Complaint
  2. Notify CAS

    The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) is a pro-consumer organization that researches auto safety issues & often compels the US government to do the right thing through lobbying & lawsuits.

    Notify The CAS
  3. Report a Safety Concern

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the US agency with the authority to conduct vehicle defect investigations & force recalls. Their focus is on safety-related issues.

    Report to NHTSA