Q: AC is not blowing cold and a plastic-like smell when AC is on.

asked by on November 04, 2016

Drove truck on Wednesday and AC was blowing cold. Thursday morning there was an odor it wasn't a mildew odor it was more like a plastic smell. Can still smell it when turn AC on.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Cabin Air Filter Replacement $90.53 - $165.57 Get a Quote

There are different possibilities that could contribute to the plastic smell. The smell could be caused by a coolant leak, an electrical issue, the A/C compressor overheating, or simply an outside smell.

Sometimes, plastic bags tend to get stuck to the exhaust system and melt. If you had the vent on for outside air, you probably smelt a bag burning, or some ambient smell. If you had the recirculate button on when you experience this smell, then it is time to change your cabin filter. The dust on the cabin filter will make a burning smell as air is passed through it. Plus, if the filter is dirty, then the evaporator will not function correctly and also causes the a/c to not blow as cold as usual. If the filter is good and clean, then it is possible that the a/c system has sprung a leak and you are smelling the refrigerant.

If you need further assistance, then seek out a professional, such as one from YourMechanic, to help you diagnose the cause of the warm a/c and plastic smell from the vents and replace the air filter, if needed.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

What others are asking

What does the Overdrive Cancel and Grade Assist light mean on the dash?

If your car is equipped with it, the Overdrive Cancel and Grade Assist system is designed to help with driving on steep grades and in other treacherous conditions. If the light is on in your dash, it means that the...

I have a squeaking sound when I hit bumps on the left hand side

Hello. Most of the time when you get squeaks when hitting bumps it is due to worn out suspension bushings or an issue with the struts. I usually get the vehicle in the air and fully inspect the bushings and...

Rough ride

Hello, thank you for writing in. Before doing any testing, make sure the tires are properly inflated and in good condition. The first thing to do is called a "bounce test". It involves going to each tire, and pressing down...

New battery won't hold a charge. 2000 Ford Ranger

Hi there - this behavior sounds more like there is a parasitic load, or drain, on the battery after shutting it off. This problem can be diagnosed by connecting an ammeter to the positive (red) battery cable, observe the current...

What does it mean if the Throttle Control/Powertrain Light comes on in the dash?

If you see a light on the dash that looks like a little wrench, it means that the computer has detected a problem with the engine or transmission. This is the Throttle Control/Powertrain Light. It should only come on if...

Was at red light and car wouldn't go forward after light changed

Hi there: Without being there to complete a diagnostic scan or inspect the vehicle personally, it's very difficult to accurately pinpoint the issue you are having with the Crown Vic. It's possible that you may have a simple electrical sensor...

Doors not opening

The mechanical connections inside the door may have become worn or misaligned over time. In a few cases, the components just need some lubrication. An experienced mechanic, like the ones at YourMechanic, will able to spot the problem and advise...

AC compressor clutch doesn't stay engaged

This would require more testing with the pressure gauges to see if the A/C system cuts out due to low pressure on the low side of the A/C or high pressure on the high side. The most common problem is...

loud buzzing on driver side while in motion. no dash lights on?

Hello, thank you for writing in. There are several moving parts that can cause a vibration in regards to the air conditioning system. You or a technician will have to go through the components one by one until the vibration...

Related articles

How Do I Prepare My Car for Summer?
Summer's Summer's heat, dust, and stop-and-go traffic will take their tolls on your vehicle. Follow these tips to ensure optimum wellness of your car: Air Conditioning: Have your air conditioning inspected by a qualified technician. Newer models have...
What Typically Causes the Heating or AC to Stop Working?
While both the heating and AC are connected - to an extent - within your car, they’re actually...
How to Clean Evaporator Drain Tubes
The air conditioning system on a car has evaporator drain tubes than need cleaning if there is dirty air in the car or it is not blowing consistently.