Everything You Need to Know About the “New Car Smell”


You open the door to that brand new car and are instantly hit with a smell we have all come to know as the “new car smell”. There is nothing else like it. That smell gives us a sense of pride because we worked hard to own that car. Your passengers know it too. But you may be wondering how you can make that smell last so you can enjoy the feel of driving a brand new vehicle just a little longer. Before we address how you can get the smell to last, we should first understand where that new car smell comes from and what causes it.

What causes that “new car smell”?

That new car smell we have come to love is caused by a combination of chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Various interior features contain these VOCs, including the various fabrics, plastics, and adhesives used when constructing the vehicle. The smell that is emitted from these interior features are those VOCs being released into the air, causing a form of air pollution. When that new car smell fades, it’s because the particles that were once trapped in those materials have been released.

Is the “new car smell” bad for you?

As you can see from the previous question, that new car smell doesn’t sound as appealing anymore. Research has been done to identify and understand the effects of inhaling these chemicals and the results vary. Depending on the health background of the individual, as well as how much and how frequently a person is exposed to the release of these VOCs, can vary the results on whether an individual experiences any side effects. Some drivers have reported dizziness, headaches, and nausea. Depending on what study you read, you will see warnings such as frequent and extensive exposure can cause serious health issues such as cancer while others say the data is inconclusive. Either way, car manufacturers are currently in the process of eliminating the use of materials that contain these VOCs.

How long does the “new car smell” last?

After reading this you may be a little hesitant to buy a brand new vehicle or drive the one you just bought. While the research is inconclusive at this time on the effects of the new car smell, the smell doesn’t last very long. Most vehicles lose the new car smell within the first few months of ownership. If you are buying a vehicle that has been sitting on the lot for a few months during the summer, then that smell has already begun to fade. Until that new car smell fades, keeping your vehicle clean and well ventilated in the first few months of ownership can help rid your vehicle of those VOCs more quickly.

How can you get that “new car smell” back?

Since car manufacturers and researchers are leaning towards being on the safe side and eliminating the materials that release the new car smell, it may be a good idea to try a new air freshener. After the new car smell became a scent drivers everywhere loved, manufactures of good smelling scents for your vehicles quickly jumped on board and created scents that would replicate that smell (without the use of VOCs of course). So, if you are missing that new car smell, add a new tree to hang from your rearview mirror or pop one of those vent scents in and you can enjoy the smell we all enjoy as long as you want but in a much safer environment.  


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