Car Air Conditioner Blowing White Mist (Solved & Explained)

If you see white smoke blowing out from the air vent of your car when you have the a/c on, then you have a problem. You may have a leak, the filter might be dirty, or coolant is getting into the combustion chamber.

Why is my vehicle’s air conditioner blowing a white mist out of the vents?

For those of us who live in hot landscapes, an a/c in our vehicle is non-negotiable. Most people won’t even sit in the driver’s seat until they turn on the a/c first. 

So, when they notice that their car’s a/c is not working as it should, it is going to stress them out considerably. What would you do if, one day, you turned on the a/c and saw that there was a white mist blowing out of the vents?

There are several different ways a car’s a/c unit can malfunction and one of those ways is by blowing white mist out from the vents.

There are a few things you can do to troubleshoot this problem. The first is to check the air filters in your vehicle. If they are dirty, then the air conditioner will have to work harder to produce cold air, which can overheat the engine.

What causes a white mist to spray out of my car’s air conditioner?

There are four possible reasons why a white mist is blowing out of your air conditioner when you turn it on.

The last two reasons are critical to the performance of the air conditioner and must be checked out. If you wait too long to take your vehicle into the shop, then you may damage your car’s a/c unit

●     It could be cold air mixing with warm air and causing condensation – When cold air from the vents mixes with warm air, this will cause moisture to condense and turn into droplets. In some cases, the droplets may look like a white mist, especially when the droplets are falling down.

●     There is a refrigerant leak – coolant is leaking somewhere in the ac unit. It is not safe to breathe in coolant vapors, as they are toxic. You may not want to use your a/c again until you fix it.

●     The air filter is dirty and cannot catch any more debris – the white vapor or smoke you see entering your car could be dust that the air filter can no longer catch. You will need to clean out your air filter

●     Coolant leaking – If there is coolant or water entering into the combustion chamber, where it should not be, then white smoke will come out of the air conditioner vents. You’ll need to get this fixed as soon as possible as it can damage the engine.

How to clean a vehicle’s a/c unit and air filter

Over time, a car’s AC unit can become clogged with dust, dirt, and other debris. This can reduce its efficiency and cause it to work harder than necessary to cool the car.

If you notice that your car’s AC is not blowing as much cold air as it used to, that means it is time to clean the a/c unit.

Even if you do not know much about cars or engines, it is surprisingly easy to the typical car a/c unit. All you really need are a few simple tools and an assistant to hold the flashlight for you.

How to clean a vehicle’s a/c unit

For the first step, clean the vent windows and behind the vents. You will need a small duster in order to catch all of the Dust stuck behind the vents. 

Next, you’ll need to find the air filter. It is usually located somewhere behind the glove compartment. 

Once you empty out the gloves compartment, you will need to find a screwdriver and unscrew the screws to remove the cover.

Instead of screws, there may be pegs that you can flick to remove the cover. This will give you access to the cabin filter.

Next, remove the filter and use a brush or small vacuum to remove grime, filth, dirt, and debris. If it is damaged or in pieces, you may just want to purchase a brand-new filter.

Now it is time to open the hood of your car and look for the condenser fan. This fan is usually located behind the condenser. You won’t have to remove anything. Just wipe the fan blades.

Finally, it is time for the big job, which is cleaning your AC unit condenser. You recognized the condenser because it looks like it is made out of mesh. You may have to remove the bumper in order to get to the condenser. 

Luckily, all you have to do is spray it down with water or a condenser cleaner from an auto body shop. After you spray it, wipe away any dirt gently and allow it to air-dry. Do not turn on the engine while the condenser is what.

Note: Does the air from your vehicle’s a/c also have a smell?

When you do not use your vehicle’s a/c for a long time, the air in the unit and some of the chemicals will deteriorate and change. In some cases, the deteriorated chemicals will take on an old musty smell. 

You will not be able to smell the old chemicals until you turn on the car’s AC. This is why many people noticed that their vehicle has a terrible smell during the late spring.

The late spring and the early summer are usually when people have to start using their air conditioner in the car and in their homes. 

This smell is called cabin air. To get rid of the smell, open all the doors in your car and roll down the windows. Then, blast the AC for several minutes or until the smell finally dissipates.

  • Eric Williams

    I'm the founder of Daily Car Tips. I wrote articles in the automotive industry for more than 10 years, published in USA and Europe. I love sharing my knowledge and insights with fellow enthusiasts. Join me on this journey as we explore the exciting world of cars together!

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