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Keeping That 'New' Car Smell 8 Months Later

Got a 13’ Toyota Avalon back in November and have been in love with it ever since. Call me insane but I’m super crazy about keeping my car as new as possible. I try to clean it once every week (interior and exterior), I worry about any and all scratches (black finish), and I refuse to open the windows for fear of losing the new car smell or getting an awful odor from the air (yes, I’m that crazy).

I guess what I’m trying to ask is, am I over paranoid about opening the windows out of fear of losing the new car smell? Besides cleaning and dusting off the interior, are there other ways to keep the new car smell? I know of a few scent things you can buy that have the same smell but it’s just not the same as the smell of fresh new leather.


"I know of a few scent things you can buy that have the same smell but it’s just not the same as the smell of fresh new leather. "

That’s what I told that girl and she slapped me!!!

That smell is from the outgasing of the plastics, adhesives, etc. Its not particularly good for you. So just open the windows a little for ventilation and when its gone its gone.

It’s your own new car. You paid for it, you decide what you like to do with it. No apology needed. You like the new car smell? I can see that. New cars, the passenger compartments, they do have a pleasing aroma. I can understand you want to preserve that as long as possible.

I’m not myself so concerned with the smell. But I do understand what you are saying. When I purchased my first car as a teenager I used to tune it up every weekend. I’d check all the fluid levels, top them off even if they were a few ounces low, then check the dwell, the timing, the idle rpm, and tweak the carb mixture screws until it purred like a kitten. Then the next weekend, I’d do it all again! It was pretty fun. I should say I no longer am quite as diligent. Actually I’m nowhere as diligent. But that was then, this is now.

hmmm … so back to your question … hmm m… well, there’s not much you can do to keep the existing new car aroma inside indefinitely. Even with the windows up, the HVAC is usually circulating outside air in, and inside air out. How much depends on how you set up the controls. And air leaks out all the time anyway. Take a look at the door threshold area. Those are usually designed to have non-sealed openings between the door and the threshold so air can exit the passenger compartment, but not allow rain in. Often there’s something like that in the rear side window trim too. It’s part of the fresh air ventilation design. For outside air to get in, inside air has to have a way to get out.

So eventually that new car smell will go away. But there’s products sold in auto parts stores for this very purpose. That’s the first place to check. I think you can get a pretty good result just by keeping the inside well vacuumed, all the hard surfaces wiped clean once a week, and using Windex on the inside of all the windows as often as practical. Windex sort of has that new car aroma all by itself.

One new car smell is coconut oil. Put a few drops on a paper towel and put it somewhere in the car to see if you like it. It’s a scent type of small bottle, not something used for cooking.

As mentioned, that new car smell could potentially be carcinogenic, so when I buy a new car, I park it in the garage and crack the windows open and let it out gas. The best smell is no smell IMHO.

Like Bing says, if you have been around new plastics enough, you get the same smells. Use Simple Green cleaning solution to clean your car’s interior to eliminate even regular smells from more caustic cleaners.

“That smell is from the outgassing of the plastics, adhesives, etc. Its not particularly good for you. So just open the windows a little for ventilation and when its gone its gone.”

+1 to Bing’s comment.

There are lots of things in life that we may like, but that–in balance–are not necessarily good for us, and to which we should limit exposure. I like a grilled steak with a really good char on its surface, but I know that this is not something that I should eat on a regular basis if I want to remain healthy. I really like drinking 12 year-old Scotch, but I know that overindulgence will not lead to anything of a positive nature.

In a similar fashion, I also enjoy the smell of a new car, even though I am aware that the outgassing of plasticizers is undoubtedly unhealthy. So, when the new car smell goes away, I don’t mourn its passing, and I think that the OP should do the same.

oh, I agree about the outgassing but think that the study about charred meat being a carcinogen is poppycock.

the charred additives and preservatives in todays food may be a different story

Bing’s comment that the smell is outgassing is a correct technical answer, but I agree with George that it’s nobody else’s business. Even with air windows up, cars have enough airflow, and manufactures of both the vehicles and the adhesives and polymers, are bound by enough anti-toxin safety regulations to prevent any danger to you, the car’s final owner. Every material and every adhesive is controlled by “Material Safety” regulations. Every single one must have “Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)” identifying any danger of toxins in contact, ingestion, and/or in exposure. Nobody uses toxic materials or adhesives anymore. They’d be crazy to. They’d have to spend valuable resources in special handling and training or OSHA would shut them down, and the liability would be unacceptable.

Food additives are a different story. But that isn’t car related, so I’ll avoid drifting off into that.

I prefer the smell of mango over the “new car smell” any day of the week. I would have never bought a mango infused air freshener but my wife sneaked them into our vehicles years ago and now I’m hooked.

The large expanses of plastic, like your dashboard, outgas plasticizers. Carpets do it, too. The lighter molecular weight materials that outgas are specific to the plastics you have. While they could be dangerous, I think that a government agency would have noticed it and tested the levels found in cars. You would have a sticker telling you how long you could sit in your car if the levels were high enough to be dangerous. Remember that your nose is actually very sensitive to low levels of chemicals. Just because you smell it doesn’t mean that it is present in high enough concentrations to be dangerous.

Actually as I think back, I think the best smelling new cars were the 59 Fords. Better than GM and now they really don’t smell the same. Our Acuras really didn’t smell that good at all.

I read the smell of leather is the new car smell the op likes. Maybe layinf some new leather over the backseat as needed would work.

Thanks everyone for the replies! I’m actually 19 and this is my second car (first one belonged to my Grandpa, a 1990 Camry till somebody hit me and I did a 90 degree turn into a cemetery, but that’s a different story haha).

Just have to say Yosemite, you’re response was so off topic but very well done. Well played good sir.

I never thought about that smell being potentially harmful, but I can see it making sense. Needless to say I think I feel more comfortable with opening the windows now. Sure, I mean the new car smell is nice and all, but I yearn to open the windows and blast my music like a typical teenage punk. Plus while I enjoy the AC, I hate having to press harder on the accelerator than usual.

This is a little off topic from the title and my first post but as a lot of people know the 13’ Avalon was completely redesigned. I’m not sure about the previous models but this model has a really really low bumper. I live on a hill and I got a little cocky one day and accelerated a little too fast going up it and I earned a few scratches that you can’t seem unless you look under. No big deal of course. But just recently I was parking at work and usually where I park there’s a stone curb. I don’t know if I just didn’t realize how close I was to it or whatever, but instead of hitting it with the tire like a normal car, the bumper played the role. Like last time, it got scratched up on the bottom. Now I have a shield that was put on at the Toyota dealer that covers the bumper and most of the front hood, but there’s a few small parts where the shield actually came up onto the grill of the car. Not sure if I can get away with it with Toyota and ask for a free replacement, but what do you guys think?

Speaking of the shield, I was washing the car the other day and I’m not sure if it was the dirt on the sponge or the sponge itself but it left a nice little streak mark on the Toyota shield of the hood. Would wax get that out, if anything? Can’t really see it and I guess it’s not a big deal but I thought I’d ask :slight_smile:

After hitting a curb like that take a good look underneath the car in the front. There’s usually several pieces of plastic screening the “under engine” area. Those screens are important for directing how the wind flows under the car as you go down the street, and preventing rocks from kicking up and getting into the belts and pulleys. If you’ve broken one, replace or fix it.

Welcome to the wonderful world of car ownership.

"Not sure if I can get away with it with Toyota and ask for a free replacement, but what do you guys think? "
You can always ask. Be prepared to hear “no”. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I’ve been told by a couple people that my car still smells new even after 4 years. I’ve done nothing to the interior and have only washed the exterior, so I dunno how it can still smell new. I open windows occasionally and have threatened people to not smoke in my car. Mostly it’s just me in the car, with an occasional passenger.

Sorry for the late reply!

Yeah, Bscar, I’m the same way. I pick up a friend on the way to to work (we work at the same place) and she’s always wearing some kind of heavy smelling lotion. Makes me HAVE to open the windows :smiley:

GeorgeSanJose, I’ll post a picture of what it looks like tomorrow, but I think I may have just scratched the paint and not the screens.