— Lexus ES air conditioner smells have caused owners to file a proposed class-action lawsuit that includes all consumers in the U.S. who purchased or leased any 2013-2017 Lexus ES series vehicle.
Plaintiff Norman Beil purchased a new 2014 Lexus ES 350 that came with basic warranty coverage for 48 months or 50,000 miles, whichever occurs first. In August 2015, Beil says he began experiencing a strong nauseatingly odor coming from the HVAC vents every time the Lexus was started.
With about 6,600 miles on the odometer, the plaintiff’s wife returned the car to the dealership and complained about the horrible odors. Technicians replaced the air filter at a cost of $79.72, but the plaintiff claims the odor remained. The dealer finally told Beil to read the owner's manual about heating, ventilation and air conditioning (“HVAC”) odors.
The plaintiff says he wouldn't have bought the Lexus if he would have known about the odor problems.
The plaintiff claims the ES vehicles emit odors into the cabins because of microbial growth on the evaporators or evaporator cores. In most cars the evaporator is located inside the passenger compartment, buried under the instrument panel.
Those evaporators consist of internal tubes to carry liquid refrigerant, with fins attached to them through which air can pass freely. As it passes into the evaporator, the cold refrigerant absorbs heat from the warmer air and humidity.
However, instead of draining enough from the HVAC system as it accumulates, the water builds up on the evaporator’s surface and the condensate allegedly traps pollen, bits of leaves, dead bugs and other debris that enters the HVAC system from outside the vehicle. This condition causes the growth of fungi and bacteria.
According to the lawsuit, Lexus cannot properly repair this problem permanently, leaving owners to keep making repairs to the vehicles.
The plaintiff says the Lexus ES HVAC system shares the same basic platform with the Toyota Camry and Toyota Avalon. Owners of Toyota Camrys can attest to what they went through because of the smells.
"Bad odor every time the a/c is turned on. Kids are embarrassed to have their friends ride in the car." - 2012 Toyota Camry owner / Mobile, Alabama
"Every morning when I turn on AC in my 2011 Camry--it smells musty . It will take about three minutes to go away but will come back the next morning. Dealer has sprayed a chemical in the unit but it didn't take long for the issue to come back. Dealer has worked on this issue twice but eventually smell comes back." - 2011 Toyota Camry owner / Lynn Haven, Florida
Another Camry owner claims they can't hardly drive the car because of the air conditioner smell.
"At around 10,000 miles we started getting a foul smell out of AC and thought we were just crazy because the interior still smells of new car until we start it. Now after several months and extreme discomfort and humiliation we are utterly disgusted that we have bought a car that has such a horrible problem. I have only put 1000 miles on my car in the last 10 months due to the horrid smell and discomfort!" - 2012 Toyota Camry owner / Santa Clara, California
Lexus allegedly should have known years ago about the air conditioner smell problems yet concealed those problems to continue selling the vehicles. In addition, the plaintiff says even though Lexus allegedly knows about the bad odors, the automaker hasn't recalled the vehicles or offered suitable repairs to customers.
The Lexus ES air conditioner smell lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California - Beil, et. al., v. Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc.
The plaintiff is represented by Capstone Law, APC.
Although no Toyota models are named in the ES lawsuit, the automaker has been hit in the past with HVAC odor lawsuits, including one filed by Toyota Camry owners.