If you’re lucky enough to have a new or nearly new car, you’ll know the pleasure you feel each time you open the door and breathe in that heady aroma.
Google ‘New Car smell’ and the first thing you see is a list of adverts for sprays that will recreate the scent of a brand new car interior.
Yet we hear that, in China, Ford has become one of the first car manufacturers to create a process to remove these odours before a car is sold. Why? Because Chinese buyers are starting to complain – and it may just be because the Chinese are more aware of the dangers of air pollution than western car buyers.
The smell comes from the chemicals used in the manufacture of the various parts of the car interior – the plastics, leathers, foams, carpets and paint. Some of these chemicals evaporate readily at normal temperatures and are known as VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). Those most commonly found in vehicle interiors include formaldehyde, styrene, benzene and acetaldehyde but cars can contain well over 200 different chemicals.
Many of these chemicals are known to cause adverse health effects, from both long-term and short-term exposure. Obviously manufacturers claim that the levels found are not significant but then what’s that smell? The level of evaporating chemicals reduces significantly over the first few months, but when you’re in a small enclosed space breathing them in for an hour or so every day, you’re getting quite a hit.
You can reduce the effect through a bit of thought. Leave the windows open a little when you’re not in the car. Put the car in the hot sun for a few hours whenever you can, again with the windows open,and the heat will evaporate off some of the chemicals. And when you’re driving, open the windows when the outside air pollution is lower to let the VOCs from inside escape.
Of course a quality car air purifier with a deep bed of activated carbon will act like a gas mask and adsorb many of these chemicals before you breathe them in. Plain Air are experts in the field of car air pollution.
And before you hesitate to remove that wonderful smell...It’s actually pretty revolting. Bottle up that same scent and spray it on your hand and it’s just unpleasant. We only think we like it because we like new cars and we associate the two. New cars without the smell are even better.