Ever heard of Ear Pressure and Nausea in a Brand New Car?

3 weeks ago I purchased a 2012 Honda Accord SE and driving it leaves me feeling car sick; ear pressure and nausea. I can only drive the car with the front windows down and the fan on. I live in Ohio—not going to be good in the winter and when it rains :slight_smile: (Btw…this is not related to the buffering issue that occurs when back windows of the car are down. This problem occurs when all 4 windows are up.) I was on two airplanes last week and drove a rental car; a Mazda 7. No ear pressure or nausea issues. Have also been in many friend’s new cars, as a passenger, and no issues. I even had an ear exam with an ENT this past Monday-turns out I have no ear, nose, or throat abnormalities that would explain the sensations I feel when in this new car. I also drove a Camry this week and got nauseous, but experienced less ear pressure. The Honda Dealership says there’s nothing wrong with the car. They checked to be sure the vents in the trunk were open. They are. Online research raises more questions than answers…could it be fumes from the black leather seats/new car smell/VOCs? The Honda I just sold was 15 years old. Is the cabin in these new cars just way too air tight, for purposes of making the car more aerodynamic? Could this be related to the curve of the windshield…saw something about that in an online post…replicates seasick feeling? Dealership will not let me return the car. The Trade-In dollar amount offered (with only 350 miles) is not a good deal (for me). Any theories, thoughts, suggestions welcome?

That new car smell can be very bad for you. A lot of chemicals are giving off unhealthy gases. Can you leave the windows rolled down where you park it at night?

Not sure if the ear pressure problem could be caused by this. I’d experiment with the climate control system, sun roof, windows, etc…

I’m leaving all the windows down in the garage, hoping that will help. I’m sorry I got leather…I just read how much vinyl is used in the seats.

You might try sitting in the car with everything off except for perhaps the radio. See if you become nauseated after half an hour. If you don’t, it is probably not the chemical composition of the interior. If you do, then it is most likely the parts of the interior outgassing. If you do not become nauseated, repeat the experiment with the car out in the open, engine running and the HVAC bringing in fresh air. If you do suffer the ear pressure and the nausea, then something in the way the car functions is causing the ear pressure.
I suspect the problem is the outgassing of the seats or some other part of the interior is causing your problem, particularly since you have no problems in an airplane. Since your ears and throat are connected, anyhing that affects the throat and lungs and affect the ears.
If the problem is chemical, perhaps a detail shop may be able to thoroughly clean the seats. My dog is sitting here besides me and he suggests that you might do what he does and ride with your nose out the window.

Much appreciated! A systematic plan is exactly what I needed. I will try all that you suggested. If it’s offending chemicals that will go away in a reasonable amount of time, I’ll keep the car…still to be determined.

I wish I could ride with my head out the window :-). I’ve also been denying my 2 dogs rides in this new car until I know what’s up.

Radioactivity From Fukushima ?

Putting dogs in there would actually be a good idea. In years past, miner’s would use canaries in mines as an early warning poisonous gas detector.

Another thought, this sounds like a classic case of buyer’s remorse.


This Experience Demostrates The Reasons For “Extended Road Tests” Or Renting A Car Similar To The One You’re Considering For Purchase.

I buy slightly pre-owned cars and usually road-test them for a couple of days. However, in this case for you, without taking a big loss, that ship has sailed.

You should see if the dealer will let you drive a different similar vehicle and or one with cloth seats (if that was available) and see if you react the same way. This might help pinpoint the problem. If it’s just your car then you have a case for a remedy.

Have you considered something other than air quality ? I don’t know Hondas from hay bales, but I do know that many buyers of newer cars of different kinds, find the seating positions to be less than desirable, particularly the headrests in some vehicles.

Is your head, neck, or back being put into a strange (for you) position ? Many chiropractors will tell you that this can cause many strange symptoms and complications.


Experiment: Road Trip - Have A Friend Drive You Around.
You Sit In The Back Seat.

Does your firend feel ill ?
Do you feel ill ?

I’m not sure what exactly this would indicate, except driving position (or location), but it would be interesting and could help focus the cause.


My wild theory is that since you said you were on 2 planes last week, it could have caused a problem in your ENT that way. Maybe not enough to show on a scan, but just ever so much to cause a problem. You’re sitting in pressurized, recirculated air while on a plane, so you could have easily picked something up from another passenger

Thanks for all the suggestions!

-Never thought about the position of the seat.

-No buyer’s remorse. I’m trying REALLY hard to keep the car!

  • Drove same car with cloth seats–still felt sick. Honda Salesman said it could still be fumes coming from plastics, resins, glues used. (He said the Honda Fit is particularly bad when it comes to fumes.)

-Re: Plane
Problem with the car was before and after planes, so no connection there other than to say pressurized cabin in plane caused no discomfort.

-Will ask a friend to drive with me (did this w/2 of the salesman at the dealership—they reported feeling fine :slight_smile: )

I will try Triedaq’s plan later today.

Thanks everyone!

re sitting position:

If you recline the seat back just slightly, so your head isn’t against the headrest/restraint, or even adjust the height of it, you might be good to go.

Is your recirculate air on? If so turn it off. The negative air pressure could be from having the window open. Sorry for your troubles.

I have no experience with air pressure problems in new cars but definitely one with nausea problems. Our brand new Toyota smelled awful inside, like dog poop. We parked it in the garage with all the windows down when we first got it. The smell took several months to go away.

All the different plastics “out-gass” the first year, and on some cars they will even coat the inside of the windshield. The Russian Lada smelled so bad when new that many ownner contemplated returning them to the dealers. The plastic used appeared to be the same type used for garbage cans in North America.

I have noticed that the inside of the glasses on our new CRV gets dirty much faster than my older cars. It is gotta be that nice new plastic with the carcinogen fumes. Another reason to buy used.