scissors
Now offering Detailing Services at all locations or at your home! Learn More

Breathe at Your Own Risk: The Threat in Your Car’s HVAC System

When people think of mold, their minds often turn to a bathroom or a basement. Both of these places are dark, full of moisture, and potentially don’t have great ventilation. What a lot of folks don’t realize is that their car’s HVAC system can be just as much of a breeding ground for mold spores as both of these places. HVAC systems in cars are also dark, damp, and subject to rapid temperature changes, creating an ideal place for mold spores to settle and multiply. 

As you try to protect yourself from breathing in mold while driving, learn more about the dangers breathing in mold can bring, how to detect mold in your car, and the best ways to get rid of mold in your car once you discover it.

The Dangers of Mold in Cars

Breathing in mold can cause a host of health problems in both the short and long term, especially for those with respiratory issues like asthma. For example, mold spores can trigger or enhance the negative effects of allergies and respiratory issues. The effects can even be more severe for children whose immune systems are still developing and people with compromised immune systems.

While mold may make other medical issues worse in the short term, it can also cause more severe health problems down the road if the exposure is constant. For instance, long-term exposure can result in people developing asthma and change a person’s immune and inflammation systems.

Why Is Mold in a Car a Problem?

Because the inside of a car is so small and the airflow is so restricted, any presence of mold in the AC system almost guarantees that you’ll be exposed to mold while driving. If you have your heater or AC on, you and your passengers will be breathing it in every time air is blowing through the vents. If you drive a lot, you’ll constantly be breathing in mold, raising the risk of developing short-term and long-term negative effects from mold exposure.

How to Detect Mold in Car ACs

Figuring out if there’s mold in your car’s AC isn’t always as simple as it may seem. If you’ve noticed a musty odor when turning on the heating or cooling in your car, that could be a sign of a mold issue. Any complaints of breathing issues, sneezing, watery eyes, or coughing while driving could also be caused by mold.

If the mold issue is bad enough, you might even be able to visibly see it on the vents in your car. Mold can come in various colors, including black, green, or white, and it often resembles a patchy or fuzzy texture.

If you are having issues that you think are mold-related and can’t locate any, it’s best to take your car to a professional to have them look inside your car’s HVAC system. They can inspect the inside of your AC box to see if there’s any unwanted growth. After the inspection, they can recommend steps to take care of the problem so you can get back to breathing easily. 

How to Get Rid of Mold in Cars and Prevent Future Mold Growth

If you’ve found mold in your car or want to prevent it, the following methods can help you get rid of it for good in your vehicle:

  • Clean and Disinfect: When you find mold in your car, you’ll want to thoroughly clean all of the surfaces in your vehicle with a mixture of mild detergent and water to get rid of any visible mold. After you’ve wiped the surfaces down, spray them with a mixture of white vinegar and water or any type of commercial mold remover that is safe for indoor use. 
  • Replace Air Filters: A clean air filter in your car can significantly reduce the chance that mold will grow inside your HVAC system. If you can’t find your car’s air filter or are having trouble replacing it, a professional at your local auto shop can help you.
  • Moisture Reduction: Reducing the amount of moisture in your car will help control and prevent mold spores from growing and multiplying. Parking in shaded areas, cracking windows when it’s not raining, and placing moisture-absorbing objects in your car, like silica gel packs, are all great ways of making sure it doesn’t get too musty in your vehicle.
  • Seek Help From a Pro: If you’ve tried all of the above methods and are still having mold issues, it’s time to talk to a pro. A good auto shop will provide a climate control service option that will have your vehicle’s AC system blowing clean air like it’s as good as new! During this procedure, the mechanic will remove your car’s cabin filter to treat the AC box with a foaming alcohol-based cleaner to kill mold spores and disinfect the ventilation system with an aerosol-based cleaner. 

Schedule a Climate Control Service Appointment at Chapel Hill Tire 

If you need help removing mold from your car and live in Durham, Chapel Hill, Raleigh, or the surrounding Triangle area, Chapel Hill Tire can help. Our mechanics will be happy to take a look at your car’s ventilation system to see if there is a mold problem and take the necessary steps to clean it out. We can also give you tips on how to prevent mold growth in the future and provide any other repair services you might need.

Learn more about our HVAC repair services today. If you’re ready to bring your vehicle into one of our shops, please make an appointment at one of our convenient locations in the Triangle Area. We also offer a great set of coupons you can take advantage of to keep your costs low!

Back to Resources