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Discussion Starter #1
So it's winter here and no a/c running in past 6 months. All winter my hvac is set to heat, through floor vents and windshield. When running a/c in summer I do turn it off 5 minutes before parking and shutting off car to avoid musty smell.
I don't think this is the same as other threads people have posted about hvac smell because it was so bad, sudden and in the middle of a drive.

One day about 15 minutes into the drive home from work the wife and I were suddenly overcome by a nasty burning electronics/melting plastic smell. Best way to describe it not knowing what "it" is. We were behind an old car at a stop sign so we chalked it up to his beater exhaust. But I'm not so sure.
There was no smoke and everything in the car seems to work 100% as far as I've seen so far. The smell has come and gone one or two times since then but much more mild. Most recent this morning getting in after remote starting it. Seems to come from hvac but quickly dissipates. Nothing looks out of sorts or smells in engine bay. Today replaced cabin filter but old one looked like normal dust collection and didn't appear wet, nor did it smell.

Anyone have any ideas as to what this could be?
 

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I have an idea.
The RAV has a booster electric heating grid built into the HVAC. It's purpose is to provide warm air quicker when the ambient temps are cold.
I'm not sure of the threshold temp when the electric grid is activated.
Perhaps some type of debris found its way onto the grid, and that's what you ere smelling?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks. Yeah, I guess that's possible. I would think the car was up to operating temp and blowing quite hot the first time it happened when I was 15 minutes into the drive. Is the electric heater accessible or visible that you know of?
 

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If your RAV is a 2014 as in your profile and if it is still under the original guarantee (am not certain about the guarantee in Canada) it should be taken to a dealer to have the problem diagnosed and, if necessary, repaired.
 

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If your RAV is a 2014 as in your profile and if it is still under the original guarantee (am not certain about the guarantee in Canada) it should be taken to a dealer to have the problem diagnosed and, if necessary, repaired.
Well I knew that was coming. Thanks. I will be mentioning it to my dealer. But, I expect I'll get the usual response of "the vehicle is operating as expected", and "could not replicate the issue", and " turn off your a/c before parking and turning off your car". Especially since it has been intermittent, at varying times in the course of a drive, and often nothing at all.
Just trying to feel things out and see what others have to say. Lots of excellent experience on here that I often trust more than dealerships generic passing the buck responses that don't fix my car.
 

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Well I knew that was coming. Thanks. I will be mentioning it to my dealer. But, I expect I'll get the usual response of "the vehicle is operating as expected", and "could not replicate the issue", and " turn off your a/c before parking and turning off your car". Especially since it has been intermittent, at varying times in the course of a drive, and often nothing at all.
Just trying to feel things out and see what others have to say. Lots of excellent experience on here that I often trust more than dealerships generic passing the buck responses that don't fix my car.

I know the frustration which sometimes results from complaints about problems to dealers. However, if the problem which you're having hasn't been reported previously it should still be reported. The dealer should provide a printed receipt even if they can't determine the cause so that if the smell recurs after the warranty has expired it should still be considered as under warranty. Also if the dealer's service department won't treat the problem seriously, is there another dealership which can be consulted? You shouldn't need to have to resolve the problem on your own, for example by disassembling the dash or other components, and a possible result of doing so may provide Toyota with an excuse for not solving it as they ought to.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I know the frustration which sometimes results from complaints about problems to dealers. However, if the problem which you're having hasn't been reported previously it should still be reported. The dealer should provide a printed receipt even if they can't determine the cause so that if the smell recurs after the warranty has expired it should still be considered as under warranty. Also if the dealer's service department won't treat the problem seriously, is there another dealership which can be consulted? You shouldn't need to have to resolve the problem on your own, for example by disassembling the dash or other components, and a possible result of doing so may provide Toyota with an excuse for not solving it as they ought to.
It's definitely a good idea for the dealer to have record of it, and I as well. I totally agree. Thanks, I hadn't really thought of it that way. I will be out of the bumper to bumper warranty soon.
 

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Good luck and the dealer might even work a surprise and determine what is causing the problem!
 

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If somehow you cannot get rid of the smell after the root cause (whatever that is?) solution, it would be an Ozone treatment. Ozone gets rid of pretty well anything e.g. used for fire & smoke damage by refurbishing company's, hotels for smoke (in non smoking rooms, etc.). Either you rent an Ozone generator (some rental stores have them, not many though). Put it in the car with windows closed, etc. for a few hours - caution: ventilate before sitting in the car, some folks are allergic to Ozone, Asthma etc. Second way maybe to get Ozone is to find spray cans of Ozone in auto parts stores (bit hard to find, but its around) and spray it into vents. Car dealers sometimes have one or the other these for their used cars (from smokers). Kills mold also. Also, small caution, long exposure will cause cracks in natural rubber. Crazy way to make Ozone is to find an old electric drill with giant blue arcing, any blue or plasma electric arcs make some Ozone. Good luck.
 
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