General Question

AstroChuck's avatar

What exactly is that "new car smell"?

Asked by AstroChuck (37373points) July 18th, 2009 from iPhone

A couple evenings ago my wife and I were looking at new vehicles and we were both commenting on the smell. Just what is it in new cars that gives them that familiar “new car smell” anyway?

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22 Answers

ShanEnri's avatar

A lack of other scents usually retained in the materials. Scents that come from other people mostly. Or in my case it’s because it’s something you’re not familiar with.

Darwin's avatar

Mostly it is various chemicals off-gassing from the plastics and paint used in making the car. Over time these chemicals become depleted and then your car will smell like motor oil, you, and those fossilized french fries the kids left under the back seat.

Facade's avatar

@Darwin that’s reason #329 why I won’t be having children

Tink's avatar

I think new car smell is when a car doesn’t smell like tobacco, or throw-up.

Darwin's avatar

@Facade – You should see what happens to ketchup and to Cheerios.

Facade's avatar

good Lord :|

Lupin's avatar

Pssst…Don’t tell anyone…. It’s pheromones for guys…

MissAusten's avatar

I read somewhere that the new car smell is composed of VOC’s, which are toxic.

That smell basically comes from the materials in the car and the adhesives holding them together.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

My car is just 8 months old. I love that smell yet.

Darwin's avatar

@MissAusten – That is basically what I said, just in bigger words.

flameboi's avatar

Certain brands have developed specific scents for the materials used in the interior… Eg. Audi, to make more likeable to potential customers, like the smell of new bills…

fireside's avatar

I suspect it’s armor-all and shampoo mixed with the sweat of assembly line workers and the oil from assembly line robots.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

It’s not the new car smell that you’re noticing. It’s the “doesn’t smell like you yet” smell that you’re noticing. Things that people use end up smelling like the people who use them.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@Facade I noticed you gave a number to one reason you are not having children. Are you perhaps writing the book I’ve always threatened to write called “500 Reasons Not to Have Children”?

whatthefluther's avatar

I think it is predominately due to the upholstery (vinyl or leather or a polyester cloth material) the carpeting (polyesters) and various adhesives. Similar odors can be found in a home with just installed new carpet, a sofa recently manufactured and a workshop where adhesive use is common. The “new car smell” is a conglomeration of all these odors which dissipate over time. See ya…..wtf

eponymoushipster's avatar

it’s the smell of owing money to a bank for a very long time.

mattbrowne's avatar

Residue of solvents.

sakura's avatar

In my case my new car smell was a mix of leather and polish :)

zina's avatar

I just got an email about this yesterday!

The person sent this article:
http://www.ecocenter.org/press/releases/20060111.php

And this personal note:
“Much of this has been known for quite some time. It’s good to know some action is finally being taken. Best thing to do with a new car is to drive with opened windows when practicable or run the ventilation system as often as possible, especially during the first year or two of the car’s life. Make sure the system is taking in fresh air and isn’t in “recirculate” mode.

Blocking sunlight (as suggested below) will help reduce the rate of outgassing of toxics. On the other hand it will delay their depletion.

To which I add: Also be aware of the build-up of mold in the airconditioning unit which is causing hundreds of cases of “mysterious” sickness. Rule: when running your vehicle’s air conditioner, drive the last few miles before your destination without the air conditioner on. This allows the moisture to evaporate before the vehicle sits for a period of time.”

MissAusten's avatar

@Darwin , sorry to have been repetitive. I glanced at the other answers but didn’t fully read them, just went off to look for that article.

Facade's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra I actually just pick random numbers when I give reasons for not having kids lol..but that is a book I would read

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