One of the most captivating elements of buying a new car is smelling our brand new vehicle for the very first time. Indeed, a new car’s smell is both enthralling and something that most of us enjoy every time we step inside our new ride for the few weeks the smell lasts.
But what is that smell? And why is it different from one vehicle to the next? And more importantly, is it dangerous?
As much as some automakers would like us to believe the smell is dictated by the quality of the leather found inside the cabin, the reality is that a new-car smell is the result of the wide range of products used in building the interior. Therefore, that smell most of us love is really a collection of glues, plastics, solvents, and rubbers, many of which include volatile organic compounds which, when in sufficient quantity, can definitely be dangerous.
That said, most automakers have taken steps to reduce the amount of VOCs in their vehicles, mostly by using safer materials. They are also continuing to improve the safety and quality of the products used in the assembly process.
Moreover, there haven’t been any studies that have definitively proven that new vehicles pose a risk to owners because of these compounds. On the other hand, some new owners may experience nausea or dizziness if they are more sensitive to certain VOCs.
To limit that possibility, it’s important to keep the cabin well-ventilated in the first six months of ownership. If you can, keep the windows as open as possible, and avoid leaving the car directly in the sun. Also, clean the interior frequently with a non-toxic cleaner and microfiber towel.
Thank you to Regina Mazda for their advice with this article.