View Full Version : New Car Smell
The recent story "Can you smell that smell" has me wondering. I always thought Cecil was a male, at least every Cecil I know are males. But in the story it mentions a phone call where a lady responded "Ma'am."
Not that I'm sexist, but is Cecil Adams a guy or a gal, does he just sound like a gal on the phone, or is the lady he called just a total idiot?
Also from San Antonio
Cecil explains in the column that the italicized portion is a phone conversation that took place between a woman at General Motors and his assistant Jane.
"It is more from carelessness about the truth than from intentional lying that there is so much falsehood in the world."
I've heard that the smell is there because it is what people expect to smell - they put the smell in at the factories. In other words, it would be quite easy to make a car that didn't smell like a 'new car' with the same plastics and glues and such. People expect to smell that nice, fresh, new smell when they are buying a new car. If it didn't have a strong odor in the showroom, and someone got in the car to see the inside and they farted, it would depreciate the value of the car before it was ever sold. The same goes for body odor, little kids, etc. Without the smell to mask such odors, car companies would lose lots of money - would you buy a brand new Ford Mustang if it smelled like feces AT THE SHOWROOM? Of course not. I once heard that they put this smell in the A/C so it lasts for a few months afterwards - but i assume cars w/out A/C (i've never actually seen one, i live in texas) smell like a 'new car' too.
When I was a kid I got motion sickness pretty bad. The "new car" smell was enough to set me puking almost immediately. My grandfather was one of those "trade it in every two years" guys so I NEVER wanted to ride in his car.
I notice that gas stations smell MUCH less toxic now since the change to those special pumps : that was another smell that used to bother me. Let's just say "wanna go for a ride?" was never my favorite question growing up.
meta, i get you man. i can't believe the name either. (especially if he's in cahoots with Greenpeace).
Or maybe just a case of name=destiny.
On new cars with leather interiors, a small puck of leather is placed under the seats to really accentuate the smell. The leather in the seats and other surfaces is tanned and coated so it does not smell. But people expect that leather smell so the car makers include it with the puck.
As far as outgassing producing the "new car smell", it comes fom the plastic components. To see for yourself, the next time you buy a new plastic ponch or raincoat, buy one in a sealed plastic bag. When you open the bag, you'll smell the same thing as the new car.
naw, that's a totally different smell... "new car smell" is very unique - hence the question posed to Cecil.
When I was a kid.. (a long time ago) the "New Car Smell" was a wonderful mix of polished wood, metal ,fabric and rubber.. Not the disgusting toxic blend of plastic, glue, solvents and god knows what they laughingly call it today! You can still get a whiff of what the REAL new car smell was, when you stick your head through the "open" window of an original old car that has been well taken care of over the last 40 - 50 years.
hey, i love today's New Car smell. It makes me want to spend lots of money on a whim. I think all stores and all books, videocassettes, CD's, computers, etc etc should smell like a new car does. The economy would be even better than it is now.
In "A Smell That's Right on the Nose," (Newsweek, May 31, 1999, pp. 6), Newsweek reports that "Hoping to standardize its new models' boquet, Ford is replacing its staff of human sniffers with a $75,000 machine that uses polymer "sponges" to detect scents. Dubbed the e Nose 4000, the device is being tested on the Focus, a European model that debuts here this fall. Volkswagen has also begun to control its factory-fresh odors, but so far it's sticking with standard nostrils."
Granted, this doesn't do much to identify the origin of that new-car smell, but it does sound like at least one major manufacturer has quantified what that smell is.
Once, a guy at a used car showroom told me that to replicate "new car smell", they wiped everything in the car down with Pledge. Also, where do they sell the filters for the air conditioner that Cecil mentioned? I live in steamy Florida, and my car often smells like mildew, even though I always have the air on.
I live in steamy Florida, and my car often smells like mildew, even though I always have the air on.
You should run your heater once a month (maybe even once a week) for a few minutes. The mildew comes from dampness in the A/C system. Running the heater will dry it up == no mildew. Heard this on the radio yesterday, and it made sense to me.
President of the Vernon Dent fan club.
04-14-2003, 06:53 PM
OK, I know this is a really old thread, but I am going to go ahead and post the end all answer, so I guess it is worth it. The smell is caused by: (drum roll)...
What is that? It's a chemical. They add it to plastic. It makes the plastic softer. Soft is good in many cases, like on dashboards and in raincoats. The reason you can smell it is because it is coming out of the polymer and evaporating. As it evaporates, your car dash is no longer as soft as when it was manufactured. You can actually smell your car getting increasingly non-elastic. There are other phthalates used as well, but this is pretty representative and the most common.
Just to be thorough, a phthalate is a benzene ring with 2 carboxyl groups at ortho positions. In this specific case, they are ketones. No, they are not particularly good for you. But neither is too much sodium in your diet. So long as you don't drink a bottle of the stuff you will be fine. Also, they are very hard to spell. I apologize for any errors.
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