#1  
Old 01-06-2013, 06:26 AM
einsteinjive is offline
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What exactly causes "new car smell"?


I hadn't smelled that scent in 6 years. Then I had to have my windshield replaced. Like magic, as I drove out of windshield wierdo's, I noticed the smell was back in all of it's new fangled glory. I am no Einstein, but I know that the bulk of what makes up the new car smell is windshield sealer/sealant. Consider this, when you stroll into an auto parts, or upholstery, or carpet store you really do not smell anything like new car smell. So it really isn't any of that stuff making the smell. I am no Sherlock Holmes, and I am no Einstein. But, like Bozo the Clown, my nose knows.

ETA: Link to column: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/...-new-car-smell --Rico

Last edited by Rico; 01-06-2013 at 11:03 AM. Reason: Add link to column
  #2  
Old 01-06-2013, 11:45 PM
Patch is offline
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Sadly, I go through a windshield every 2 years or so. Never noticed that smell when they were done.

The company I use vacuums the carpets as a courtesy when they're done. Maybe your chap spritzed New Car air freshener when he finished?
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Old 01-07-2013, 06:23 AM
Horatio Hellpop is offline
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It's caused by phthalates, the oils in new plastics that leach out of the PVCs as the plastics become old and brittle. I am violently allergic to "new car smell" and have had bad reactions to the two new cars I've had the occasion to buy. The first time it happened, I chalked it up to my smoking habit and quit. Ten years later, when I bought another new car, I made the connection.
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:54 AM
Nunzio Tavulari is offline
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I used to be caused by the smell of the upholstery (generally mohair) and carpeting (initially wool), and later on by the padding & fillers in same. That and paint and sealant odors. The "new car smell" gradually changed in the Fifties as more and more plastics were used in cars and Krokodil is correct that phthalates are the main cause.

The problem with automotive plastics, particularly soft vinyls, was that sunlight and heat caused them to crack and warp. Science has largely eliminated those problems, but much of the new car smell was lost in the process. These days, the factory sprays a scent inside that mimics the new car smell that we expect and enhances whatever natural smell that still exists. The people that installed einsteinjive's windshield may have sprayed the car in order to highlight the "new" windshield. Or he just may attuned to the smell of asphalt based sealants.

I find the smell overpowering on a brand new car but delightful six months down the road, and a bonus when I catch an occasional whiff two or three years later. A hot day in the sun with the windows closed seems to stir up lots of plasticizers and renew the scent for a short while.
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:09 AM
Gordon_Comstock is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patch View Post
Sadly, I go through a windshield every 2 years or so.
Bloody hell, what do you do? Are you a stunt driver? Does it hurt?
  #6  
Old 01-09-2013, 04:07 AM
Nunzio Tavulari is offline
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It's cheap to carry windshield replacement coverage on your insurance policy. In fact you probably already have it under comprehensive. It doesn't need to be broken to request replacement, you just tell your adjustor that it's too pitted and is very difficult to see through when the Sun is on it. That could lead to an accident, so the company will cheerfully pay for a replacement.

I'm not sure they would cheerfully agree to one every three years though. It depends on whether you live someplace that has a lot of airborne sand and grit, like Myrtle Beach or the California desert.

I was overjoyed when I finally became brave enough to ask for a replacement of a perfectly good windshield. I have a forty year sports car and it became very difficult to drive it near sundown because of light refraction.
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Old 01-09-2013, 08:49 AM
Patch is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordon_Comstock View Post
Bloody hell, what do you do? Are you a stunt driver? Does it hurt?
Rocks just seem to love my windshield. I'm not even driving anywhere special.

The shortest amount of time I've had an intact windshield is 3 weeks. I took a rock on the freeway that cracked it, resolved to get it repaired before it spread, and before I could get home the crack was halfway across the glass.
  #8  
Old 01-09-2013, 08:43 PM
Powers is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nunzio Tavulari View Post
These days, the factory sprays a scent inside that mimics the new car smell that we expect and enhances whatever natural smell that still exists.
Is this still common? I bought a car in 2000 and again last year, and neither had any detectable new car smell.

I do seem to recall the dealer options listing offering a choice of sprayed-on scents, however.


Powers &8^]
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Old 01-10-2013, 05:40 AM
Nunzio Tavulari is offline
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Originally Posted by Powers View Post
Is this still common? I bought a car in 2000 and again last year, and neither had any detectable new car smell.

I do seem to recall the dealer options listing offering a choice of sprayed-on scents, however.
Powers &8^]
I think they should have had "new car smell". Many people expect it. Like I said, it usually has to be sprayed in, and maybe they manufacturers save a few pennies by skipping it. Or too many have complained that they're allergic.

On a related note, according to Automotive News:

Quote:
Nissan will debut the release of a new show "fragrance" at the Detroit Auto Show that the brand hopes will become its trademark smell. Nissan will also unveil a flashy new display by George P. Johnson Co. The specially crafted aroma is labeled thé vert oriental in French, and it is said to evoke the smell of green tea "during Chinese spring harvest." Nissan is hoping that the "brand smell" will be such a hit with auto show visitors around the country that its U.S. dealers will agree to use the fragrance in their showrooms. "We're hoping our dealers will embrace it," Erich Marx, the brand's director for interactive and social-media marketing, says. "We'll be measuring the reception."
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