Its bacteria growing in your pipes man. Clean you cabin filter behind your glove box and get some A/C Deordorizer/Bacteria killer. I'm not sure of the name but it sprays into your intake and kills the bacteria. It works. It may be available at an auto parts store in your area or the dealer. Don't worry your Rav is not die'in even though sometimes it smells like it is. Marcutio Out!
mine has really bad smell too... dealer told me it's in cabnet filter, but then i pulled the filter out and it doesn't look bad and doesn't smell either.
i swear that smell wasn't there when dealer recommanded to change the filter... it was after i got it back from dealer... any chance they could of put something in ther??? i've heard on the news some dealer does some pretty nasty stuff when doing maintance.
I've NEVER had this problem, but I almost ALWAYS run my A/C in FRESH mode... not RECIRC. IMHO, running in RECIRC all the time causes mold :?
Here's a TSB describing a fix... though the RAV4 is not included in the illustrations. I think the RAV4 A/C drain tube is located in the driver's kickwell, behind the side panel :? Warning to DIAL-UP users... this is a 9 page TSB
Kelly you must live in a less populated area... when I drive down to LA , there's no way the air is "fresh" outside... I rather smell mold than carbon dioxide+carbon dust+whatever else is in that hazzy cloude over the city...lol
In Canada we have an abundance of clean air. Infact we sell it up here!. But your A/C will still smell after a while. All cars get it even $250,000 Mercedes Benz. The only diference is the owners of these don't fix it, they have "their mechanic" do it for them. I'm still working on the name of the stuff I used to cure this problem. I'll post it when I do.
I called the dealer and a tech had the solution. He correctly diagnosed that i probably do not circulate air enough. He said that if I left it on "circulate" The smell will eventually go away. And it did! You all shoud try it.
If you want to limit or control bacteria in your HVAC, make sure you use fresh air mode as much as possible not recirc, and also turn off the A/C about 1 minute before turning the RAV4 off and let the fan run full blast(its easier when you know ahead of time). This will dry out the ducts and ensure there is no moisture to grow bacteria or anything else.
I always do this when I know I will be stopping and I have never had a problem with any smell or bacteria in any car I have owned.
Its hard to do if its blistering hot outside, just roll the windows down a bit and with the fan running full blast, the ducts are still cool enough to keep you from melting.
For those who live in an area where the air outside is dirty, bad whatever, just make sure you have a good cabin filter. I make my own using hammock filters for furnaces(comes in a blanket which is easy to cut). It is MERV 11 and it captures dust, bacteria, pollen, smog etc. It captures enough particles for me. With the toyota basic filter I can smell the dust(you know the smell when running through a dirt road) and I see "stuff" blowing from the vents. With my own filter I see nothing nor do I smell the majority of things including some smoke. There is also no reduction in air passing through the filter(as long as I change it regularly).
I can post a set of pictures for those who want to know how I do it. Basically I can make about 20 filters with one package that I buy for 8.99(roughly $0.50 each) Since I install them flat I have to change them every 15 days but its a lot cheaper than buying a toyota cabin filter(cost $16). Costs me about $12 annually as opposed to over $70 with the toyota(I had to change them every two months)
I cant say for sure if its superior - though I no longer find some traffic smells getting into the cabin. Maybe I just fall for the marketing, in much the same way I buy Bosche wiper blades in preference to other brands.