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E36/7 Z3 (1996-2002)
E36/7 Z3 Roadster, Z3 coupe, Z3 M Roadster and Z3 M Coupe talk with our gurus here.

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  #1  
Old 06-11-2013, 10:11 AM
BigPhilly BigPhilly is offline
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Question condensation like film on inside of windshield when I turn on the A/C

So when I turn the A/C on I get this condensation like film on the inside of the windshield. Its almost like moisture is escaping from the dash to the windshield. Does anybody know what could be causing this? Or how to fix it?
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  #2  
Old 06-11-2013, 10:17 AM
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How long have you had the car, when did this start, did happen last winter?
What are the weather circumstances under which you are using the AC? Is it raining, or dry, sunny and hot?
Is it pure condensed water that wipes clean, or is it a film that does not wipe clean?
Is there any odor when using the AC?

Last edited by vintage42; 06-11-2013 at 10:21 AM.
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  #3  
Old 06-11-2013, 10:18 AM
BigPhilly BigPhilly is offline
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I wipe it with a cloth and it is fine but it comes come back shortly after I do it.
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Old 06-11-2013, 10:19 AM
BigPhilly BigPhilly is offline
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Its a 2001 Z3 roadster
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  #5  
Old 06-11-2013, 10:59 AM
Blacklane Blacklane is offline
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You live in Florida. Condensation from AC is normal.

More seriously, I suspect your evaporator condensate drain is clogged, although I'm not exactly sure where to find it on this car.
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  #6  
Old 06-11-2013, 01:23 PM
BigPhilly BigPhilly is offline
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I have had the car about 5 months its a 2001 Z3 Roadster it has 96k on it maybe a little less. It happens regardless of the weather. I live in florida so I have used the on and off since I bought the car it just started happening about 2 weeks ago. It is a clear kind of film that wipes away but returns shortly after I do it. The A/C does kind of have a musty or mildew kind of odor to it, since you mentioned it.
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  #7  
Old 06-11-2013, 02:05 PM
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I am not sure that a clogged evaporator drain would do more than cause a musty odor and a leak onto the floor. Not sure that it would cause condensation on windows. But there no doubt is a drain tube out the bottom of the car, which might get clogged, and it can be found and probed to clear it.

When the AC is on, does the car drip water underneath it? It should. If not, water is accumulating in the evaporator drain pan, and I suppose it would add moisture to the air outlets, but eventually it must overflow and wet the carpet.

If you can't see condensate dripping under the car, put the car on jack stands and look around the transmission for a drain tube or hole. Even start the engine and run the AC; condensate must be discharged under the car. If no discharge, then look harder for a tube or hole, and if found, run a (tobacco) pipe cleaner up the opening. Maybe there will be debris and a gusher.

Last edited by vintage42; 06-11-2013 at 02:19 PM.
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  #8  
Old 06-11-2013, 02:06 PM
BigPhilly BigPhilly is offline
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Originally Posted by vintage42 View Post
Do you know the answers to the other questions?
I have had the car about 5 months its a 2001 Z3 Roadster it has 96k on it maybe a little less. It happens regardless of the weather. I live in florida so I have used the on and off since I bought the car it just started happening about 2 weeks ago. It is a clear kind of film that wipes away but returns shortly after I do it. The A/C does kind of have a musty or mildew kind of odor to it, since you mentioned it.
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  #9  
Old 06-11-2013, 02:22 PM
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Google Z3 evaporator drain. There is a lot of stuff. Must be a true issue.
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  #10  
Old 06-12-2013, 04:31 AM
BigPhilly BigPhilly is offline
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Originally Posted by vintage42 View Post
I am not sure that a clogged evaporator drain would do more than cause a musty odor and a leak onto the floor. Not sure that it would cause condensation on windows. But there no doubt is a drain tube out the bottom of the car, which might get clogged, and it can be found and probed to clear it.

When the AC is on, does the car drip water underneath it? It should. If not, water is accumulating in the evaporator drain pan, and I suppose it would add moisture to the air outlets, but eventually it must overflow and wet the carpet.

If you can't see condensate dripping under the car, put the car on jack stands and look around the transmission for a drain tube or hole. Even start the engine and run the AC; condensate must be discharged under the car. If no discharge, then look harder for a tube or hole, and if found, run a (tobacco) pipe cleaner up the opening. Maybe there will be debris and a gusher.
thank-you for the suggestions. I will try it.
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  #11  
Old 06-12-2013, 08:12 AM
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amancuso amancuso is offline
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My friend's 99 does the same thing. I think it's because there is some kind of mold or algae growing on the evaporator core in the dash, and it's "off gassing" It's probably harmless, but annoying.
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  #12  
Old 06-12-2013, 09:00 AM
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My friend's 99 does the same thing. I think it's because there is some kind of mold or algae growing on the evaporator core in the dash, and it's "off gassing" It's probably harmless, but annoying.
Condensation on the windshield takes a lot of moisture put into the air, likely from water in the drain pan. A smell only takes a little algae on the evaporator or its drain pan. A smell can be treated with sprays, but if it's from water accumulating in the pan, a one-time spray through the vent won't stop it.

I had a smell in my 2006 Scion xB last fall, and cured it with this spray. It said it could be applied from above through a vent, but I applied from under the car into the drain hose, dousing the evaporator and drain pan.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Decades ago my 1978 VW Rabbit had it all: smell, condensation, sloshing sound from the evaporator box over the tunnel under the dash, and a damp carpet. A couple of pipe cleaners twisted together and run up the drain tube from under the car came out covered with goo, and released a stream of foul water.
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  #13  
Old 06-12-2013, 09:16 AM
Mikey48 Mikey48 is offline
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Can you smell antifreez ? The stuff on the windows is usually antifreez leaking from a bad heater core. Good luck.
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  #14  
Old 06-12-2013, 10:10 AM
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I thought about that, but he answered that the condensation completely cleaned off the window. That sounded like it was not coolant. He also said the AC had a musty or mildew odor, not like coolant. And he did say the condensation and smell occurred when using the AC. So it sounds like the moisture is coming from the evaporator rather than the heater core.

Last edited by vintage42; 06-12-2013 at 10:11 AM.
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  #15  
Old 06-12-2013, 11:17 AM
BigPhilly BigPhilly is offline
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no there is no anti freeze smell..ty tho
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  #16  
Old 06-13-2013, 04:48 PM
wmschlone wmschlone is offline
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Interesting. I experience this phenomena in my car as well and it is mildly annoying. I have a normal amount of water on the garage floor after using the AC, so the drain doesn't seem to be clogged. My AC does smell a little musty when first fired up but goes away after a few seconds. Finally, the film on the windshield is less like moist condensation and more, well...filmy. Kinda like what you'd expect to find on the windshield of a smokers car.

I use the heater all winter long and it never get this film. In the summer I clean it every couple days.

Assuming the drain is not clogged, what would be then next thing to troubleshoot?
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  #17  
Old 06-14-2013, 03:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmschlone View Post
... AC does smell a little musty when first fired up... the film on the windshield is... filmy. Kinda like what you'd expect to find on the windshield of a smokers car. I use the heater all winter long and it never get this film. In the summer I clean it every couple days...
The smell could be from the AC evaporator coil and its drain pan, which may have bacteria / algae growing in the moisture. Use the Kima Cleaner.
The film could be from outgassing of the plastics inside the car, when it is shut up in the hot sun. Our four cars all get some eventually, even though they are always under a roof.
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  #18  
Old 06-14-2013, 07:58 AM
wmschlone wmschlone is offline
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Originally Posted by vintage42 View Post
The smell could be from the AC evaporator coil and its drain pan, which may have bacteria / algae growing in the moisture. Use the Kima Cleaner.
The film could be from outgassing of the plastics inside the car, when it is shut up in the hot sun. Our four cars all get some eventually, even though they are always under a roof.
Thank you for the product recomendation. I've always had good luck with Einszett products so I will be giving this a try soon.

As for your out gassing hypothesis, I think you are absolutely correct. I assumed that is was coming from the AC because the only time I ever use the AC is in the heat of the summer and this is when the film is most prevelant. However, it would make sense that, due to heat speeding up the off/out gassing process, the film is actually a result of of my car sitting in a baking parking lot all day at work. In fact, here is a pretty good definition of out gassing that specifially mentions the window film (1)

Here is the important bit:

"Everyone knows how bad most paints stains and varnishes smell; your instincts probably tell you the fumes are bad for you. Much of those fumes are from VOCs. But there are VOCs in less obvious products. For example, that film that accumulates on the windows on a new car. This film is the result of chemicals offgassing into the air and then condensing onto the windows to form the film. This same process is very likely going on in your home and workplace right now, and the chemicals are not only in the air and on the windows, they are in your lungs. Have you ever noticed how hard you have to rub to get that film off your windows?"

So the logical next question, is there any way to prevent this short of removing your car's interior and thus the offending off gassing plastics? Other than cracking your window to help vent some of these VOCs, I can think of no real solution. In other words, can we say that this film is just a result of "normal vehicle operation?" I would say so.

Finally, to the OP, my favorite tools for cleaning my windsheild are this and one of these.
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  #19  
Old 06-14-2013, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by wmschlone View Post
... is there any way to prevent this short of removing your car's interior and thus the offending off gassing plastics? Other than cracking your window to help vent some of these VOCs, I can think of no real solution...
It's the resilient life of the plastic dash and console and wire insulation being baked out. For all day parking in the sun, I would get a Roof Cover.

Last edited by vintage42; 06-14-2013 at 11:20 AM.
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  #20  
Old 06-14-2013, 02:39 PM
wmschlone wmschlone is offline
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It's the resilient life of the plastic dash and console and wire insulation being baked out. For all day parking in the sun, I would get a Roof Cover.
I've been eyeing these for a while.
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  #21  
Old 09-02-2013, 08:44 AM
RhoXS RhoXS is offline
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Originally Posted by Blacklane View Post
You live in Florida. Condensation from AC is normal.
I live in South Florida and moisture on the inside of the windshield or any of the glass for that matter is certainly not normal when the A/C is running and dehumidifying the interior space.

The reason moisture condenses out on glass surfaces is because the temperature of the glass is below the dew point for the current humidity and ambient temperature.

With respect to moisture on the inside of the windshield, on a cool day, even in south Florida, the inside of the glass can fog up from the humidity inside the car if the A/C is not running or not operating properly if it is running. This is typically only a very brief problem because it occurs only immediately after getting in the car. The A/C quickly drops the interior humidity below the dew point and the glass quickly clears.

Cool days aside, the usual problem is due to the windshield glass being cooled below the exterior dew point by the running A/C system and the moisture condenses out on the outside of the glass, not the inside.

I still have a 2002 3.0i Z3 Roadster I bought new. Over the years the soft light foam rubber seals used for the various doors controlling air flow have deteriorated. These seals are impossible to replace without removing the entire dashboard. One of the many undesirable results is some cold air leakage through the defroster vents, even when air is directed elsewhere. I have a frequent problem of the outside of the windshield, just above the vents, accumulating a narrow band of condensed moisture. This typically happens at night or on an overcast day when there is no sun load to keep the windshield glass warm.
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  #22  
Old 09-02-2013, 05:29 PM
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... 2002 3.0i Z3 Roadster I bought new. Over the years the soft light foam rubber seals used for the various doors controlling air flow have deteriorated. These seals are impossible to replace without removing the entire dashboard...
Here's a picture of the foam seal on the air box behind the structural round dash support tube.
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