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What is ‘New Car Smell?’

What is ‘New Car Smell?’


Ah, man. New car smell, right? Imagine it. Breathe it in. That’s the high life, yeah? *title music* Most people find the unique aroma of a new
car oddly enticing, the olfactory equivalent of snuggling into a warm laundry. People like it so much that they even replicate
it in air fresheners and those sprays you find in gas stations. But what exactly is this stuff? That is tough to determine. Not everyone reports the same sort of smell
when they talk about the scent of a new car. While scientists still aren’t sure exactly
what makes new car smell so fascinating or pleasant to humans, we do know a few things
about it: first, it’s not any one, single substance. Cars are made of a wealth of materials, such
as polyurethane or polyester. These chemicals are designed to endure daily
wear and tear while also resisting changes in temperature and climate. So far, so good, right? Not so fast. While the materials themselves may not be
particularly terrible, by which I mean you can touch them without contracting some sort
of odd disease or bursting into flames, the stuff they produce can be downright dangerous. The smell of a brand-new car is the result
of numerous chemical compounds from all these paints, plastics, lubricants, plasticizers
and sealants releasing into the air. This process is called “outgassing.” I know. Sexy, right? These compounds are collectively known as
volatile organic compounds or “VOCs.” They have high vapor pressure and low boiling
points. This means large numbers of molecules evaporate
into the air. Some of these VOCs don’t produce any sort
of odor whatsoever, but others are responsible for that intriguing olfactory mixtape known
as new car smell. And as appealing as they might smell, these
VOCs may also be hazardous. Studies show that some of these volatile chemicals,
such as the ethyl benzene and formaldehyde found in paints and glues, can cause problems
like dizziness, headache, allergies or even cancer when inhaled in large enough quantities
or for long enough periods of time. So you can sniff that new Honda but for Pete’s
sake, don’t huff it. This has caused some scientists to compare
inhaling new car smell to sniffing glue. At this point, scientists still haven’t
closed the case on new car smell. We know some of these compounds are certainly
harmful, but experts don’t agree on exactly how harmful a given compound might be. We do know that a great deal of these VOCs
luckily go away over time – although they can come back on hot days when higher temperatures
increase the rate of outgassing. One last point – not all new car interiors
are created equally, VOC-wise. Some are much less toxic than others. You can find reports on the relative health
of your car’s interior by checking with nonprofit groups such as the Ecology Center,
which publishes a Model Year Guide to New Vehicles annually. In the meantime, I have to ask: what does
a ‘new car smell’ smell like to you? Let me know in the comments, and subscribe
and stay tuned for more BrainStuff.

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100 thoughts on “What is ‘New Car Smell?’

  1. I think peoples affinity for 'new car smell' is 90% psychology. Who isn't excited by getting a new car? Clean… Fresh… Brand new. The smell of a new car associates people with the 'high' of a new vehicle purchase. I don't think it can be replicated at all. All that new car smell air freshener is bogus and can't evoke what makes new cars smell great… The envigoration of HAVING a new car.

  2. also, new cars get prepped up after being delivered to the dealership. so there are products used like leather conditioners and laquer thinner (used to remove thick glue and grease in door linings), the black plastic detail shine spray and various other detail sprays.

  3. I've been gifted by this scent for 5 times now and the last one oddly was a brand new Toyota Forklift and for a few Months, my job was Heaven(outside of loving the Job itself) I live in Montreal and we have real Springs …mostly and around March this hits me for thinking of new anything. I will be gifted with a Kia "Rio" on June …29th and with only 30K kph this will be Heaven!!

  4. people think in terms of new car smell as fresh no odor so when they buy a brand new car the odor of new plastic in materials is mistaken 4 brand new car no odor that is very simple to be very honest with you the best scent is a scent that's not too strong and not to light a scent that is clean without smelling like heavy detergent a good example is roses flowers

  5. How do u make good scents come thru the vents i noticed cars have the smell coming right thru the venfs without those anoying clip on things

  6. It's very simple….new car smell means you have a new car. People like owning a new car. Hence, people like a new car smell.

  7. Well I bought a 2016 car about 2 months ago, and it had that smell. It has faded a lot, but I can still make it out. So the dealership has a way of achieving this, because my car was not brand new. I would like to know how to get it that way on my own. People mention leather, and while that makes sense, my car does not have a leather interior. I’ve bought a few sprays, but they just don’t smell the same.

  8. FYI – the "new car smell" comes from the older technique of gas flame laminating urethane foam to car seat materials on rolls before being made into car seat covers.
    The smell is HYDROGEN CYANIDE which is given off from the burnt foam acting as glue inside your car seats over a period of about 6 months and eventually fades.
    If it gets really bad, car windows will also mist up readily …and yes that's CYANIDE you're breathing in.!

    The 'new car smell' has all but disappeared these days, as most car makers are using different lamination methods that don't involve using gas flaming but dry powder glues, bonded with heat and compression instead. Unfortunately, the old method is still big in India and China especially for upholstery fabrics.

  9. Outgassing can also occur when you have too much vacuum the individual atoms of the container itself can come out

  10. I went to a car show once in Los Angeles Convention Center and at first the new car smells were so amazing but since your their the whole day checking out new cars from all makes and models it starts to get to you, especially when you get in the car with other people who are checking the cars out and they have cologne on mixed with the new car smell it started to give me a headaches I had to drink lots and lots of water. To my Surprise after the show, we had exited the building and I felt a lot better.

  11. It’s the fresh leather, glue and other chemicals that we smell in new things, like shoes, but over time it wares off

  12. It’s all psychological. Kinda like a new girlfriend/boyfriend smell. It just makes you feel good and refreshing. As opposed to an old wife/husband smell. Repulsive lingering scent.

  13. The main odor is poliurethane foam… Or sponges inside the seats. Yes it is a cancerigen mainly due to its ph level, poliurethane sponges itself are adicting. Syntethic cloth is the other main odor… Basically all petroleum derivates… Wich of course are cancerigens due to its ph acidic effects on body.. Nothing to really worry if you take a spoon of sodium bicarbonate daily.

  14. My father replaced the dashboard in his F250 that started to pull away from the gauge cluster and after a few hours in the Texas sun
    It smelled like a BRAND NEW truck

  15. I got rid of that awful new car smell quickly with my personal "Out gassing"! Most of my passengers don't like my personal scent which can suddenly come on really strong after I had a diet of beans, broccoli & beer…lol!

  16. Actually DTU (Technical University of Denmark) made a blind test of new car smell. When people were introduced to the smell not knowing that it was a car, they actually disliked the smell. So the "good" smell of new car is highly psychologic with the presence of a new car.

  17. I love new car smells I just bought a 2018 Camaro 2ss yesterday, and it smells amazing! The leather, the dashboard, the led’s, everything! It smells amazing!

  18. I loved the new car smell growing up in the 60's & 70's. Even as a little kid it was always exciting to get a new car and that smell meant something new, big, expensive and fun! But in these later years, the smell as changed and doesn't smell as good as when the materials were more "real".

  19. Bought a Q7 5 years ago, very strong smell never goes away! we have to open window even in winter time. Every time I am in the car, I feel the same kind of headache . So I always try to avoid being in the car! I also always try to avoid my daughter in the car.

  20. What its like to smell the smell of most cheapest brand new and most expensive brand new car in the world? I wonder

  21. The interior scent of brand new ford cars are best….they smell like mix of chocolate, butter, strawberry, different kind of fruits, little bit of paint smell (not too strong), crushed woods, etc….. unlike other new cars which smells like different kind of fuel substances, and various chemicals mix at onces…..

  22. How can someone try to ruin new car smell! Never heard about someone who got ill or die of cancer because of getting a new car to often! So cut the bs!

  23. it smells like heaven.. i literally would open the car door and sit behind the wheel with the same look a heroin addict gets on his face after shooting!

  24. It's the same feeling as opening a fresh can of tennis balls. Everyone loves that smell. It's the scent of fresh plastic, rubber, paint, coatings on the leather etc etc. While they're all still fresh.

  25. We associate the "new car smell" with reward and a positive experience. If that same smell was associated with a negative event, we wouldn't think it smelled so great. It's all psychological.

  26. The ingredients that cause the new car smell are glue, paint, carpet, leather and vinyl sealants, gasoline and exhaust fumes

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