New car smell makes my friend sick. Dealer response poor

My friend purchased a 2007 Chevy Malibu last year but the toxic fumes that it is generating make her sick and she can’t drive it. So far the car has 2,000 miles on it. She asked the dealer to take it back and give her a year older car with more miles but they want to give her the wholesale price for her car and sell her an older car with more miles for retail which will cost her more $. The dealer will come out ahead on this deal even if they made an even swap, yet they want more money for the older car with more miles than they will give her for her newer low milage car. Does anyone have any advise? Is there anything she can use as leverage to get them to make an even swap?

If it has a moon roof, open it up all the way with the windows down and drive the car around for a few miles, then let it sit. Air it out as much as you can and this should help get rid of the smell.

All else fails, have some people you know who smoke take a ride in it with the windows rolled up, that should get rid of it. :stuck_out_tongue:

Go to a very good detail shop in your area and ask for their assistance after explaining the situation concerning the smell of the auto.

Private sale,next car private purchase.

What kind of car do you drive? If it’s older and smell free, then switch cars for some months until the new car smell is gone.

Heightened allergic reactions to many things are a real problem. That is what she’s having. She might consult an allergist.

The interior is “off gassing” the chemicals used in its manufacture. I think leaving the windows down while the car is parked outside for a few sunny days would have a good effect. Of course that would be a problem if you live in a high crime area. Come to think of it, that would solve the problem too.

It turns out the gases that evolve from the sealants, like the one used to seal the windshield, are not good for you, but most of that is gone before you ever pick up the car, so it is not a problem for anyone except the guy who glues in the windshield.

I know people who get ill (or imagine that they do, which feels the same) at any hint of organic fumes, such as paint or carpet adhesive. However, you said that she bought this car last year? If it still smells of new car, something odd is going on. Do you smell it?

If you don’t smell it, then I suggest finding some gadget like a 12 volt air filter with a carbon filter in it. If you can convince your friend that the gadget will solve the problem, it will.

Has your friend considered that the car might have an exhaust leak that is exposing her to carbon monoxide? While this would be unusual in a new car, it is not impossible, and that could explain why she feels sick after driving it.

I would suggest that she place a battery-powered CO detector in the car, start it up, and allow it to idle (with the windows closed, and without the HVAC system being activated) for a half hour or so while the CO detector is in the car. If it turns out to be CO, this is a valid warranty issue that the dealer has to rectify.

Thanks for all the replies. The car is an 07 Malibu. I have driven it for several weeks and so have a few other friends, which accounts for the 2,000 miles on it. She has taken it to a detailer who ran a special filter in it for a week but the fumes keep coming. I can smell them too, although they are not as pronounced now as they were when I first drove it. My friend is highly allergic to new carpet, paint, and the fumes that seem to be coming from the vinyl and carpet in the car. I read the article posted on Car Talk about the fumes that are emitted by new cars. We have done everything we can think of to eliminate the problem including driving it for her, keeping the windows down (which she won?t be able to do much longer with our MI weather) and washing everything down with clean water, but the fumes keep coming. I’d rather not keep driving it all the time until they are gone. She took it to the dealer last week to see if they would swap it for an older car but they still want her to pay more, even if she swaps it for an older car with higher miles. Seems that they would still come out ahead if she gave them her almost new car with only 2,000 miles on it but they are not interested in helping unless they make a good amount of money on the deal. If anyone has any other ideas, we’re open.

I had a customer that said she smelled the radio burning up.
We replaced it twice under warranty.
Came back the third time,same complaint, Service Manager really uptight.
Car had a plastic bag melted on the cat.

Not Garfield!

Don’t worry. No animals were killed or harmed. I believe the cat that oldschool was talking about was the catylitic converter, a very, very hot part of the exhaust/emissions system, under the car.

Perhaps running a small O-zone air purifier in the car while it is parked will help neutralize the released gases of the interior materials. Then while driving it, run the blower in the mode so it draws in fresh air from the air vent. Also open the windows slightly so the air can escape out to the outside.

Let’s be fair. The dealer doesn’t owe her anything. She knows that she has a serious allergy and she bought a new car. Your friend can sell it if she wants and buy only old cars from now on. How can the dealer be responsible in even a small way for a customer’s illness?

This problem will exist with every new car, not just this one. The plasticizers are outgassing when the interior parts get warm. This will go no forever. It will decrease over time (exponential decay), but I doubt that anyone knows how long it will take before there is little enough for your friend to get by without becoming ill.

The smell will go away in a bit. All new cars have that smell. My advice (cruel as may be ) is to just man up and deal with it for a few weeks.

Ah, it’s no fun if you can’t hurt animals! KIDDING! Although that doesn’t keep PETA away from all the *kill placenames around here (Fishkill, Catskill,…).

How about the catalytic converter?

This isn’t the new car smell car dealers add to a car. It is outgassing from the plastics from sitting in the sun. See for an explanation of outgassing.

Your friend should take this straight to GM. She should let them know their product is poisoning her. If they know how to do business, they should fix this for her.

Don’t let the dealership take advantage of her. If she can’t resolve this, she should sell the car privately and buy a used car after she has test driven it over a weekend. Obviously, she should go to a dealership other than the one that is trying to take advantage of her.

If GM won’t play fair, she should consider getting a lawyer.

This is a serious issue. Some people are truly more sensitive to these poisons than others. Anyone who tells her to “man up” should get a clue. This is a real hazard for people with weak immune systms and/or allergies.

That’s a nonsense reply. All cars outgas when new. All of them. She can buy a new car from any company she wants to, and she’ll have the same problem. It’s unfortunate that her body chemistry is messed up, but that’s no reason to sue GM. Her only recourse is to buy used cars that are at least several years old.

By the way, allergies are a sign of an overactive immune system. It’s kind of hard to have a weak immune system AND allergies.

That’s Gonna Leave A Mark…,
but I’m a big believer in “Walk it off!”

Thanks for your empathy Whitey. From the article I read all US cars do give off fumes but the chemicals that go into US cars have been ban in Europe and European auto makers have found safe, quality alternatives that don’t make people sick. I also learned that just because the smell doesn’t make all of us sick immediately like my friend, it can have long term effects that we may not even realize. So we may all be getting sick in other ways and not even know it. Here is a link to the aritcle I’m refering to:

Sorry to say that this little lady is very easily intimidated, especially by car dealers and she probably let herself get pushed into buying this car too easliy. But I’m hoping the dealer will make good and give her something that has had more time to “off gas” where this one just doesn’t seem to want to stop emitting the fumes. She is in a panic to get something done before her old car dies completely and she doesn’t have anything to drive. She can’t afford a payment and purchased this car from a small inheritance she received. Sad story really, and I’m just trying to help her resolve it. I may be a grandma, but Im not so easily intimadated. If we can’t get the deal to offer her a reasonable alternitive then I’ll contact GM.

The first thing to realize is that this isn’t a manufacturing defect covered by the warranty. Your friend will be allergic to everything GM makes, from Chevy pickups to Cadillacs. Legally, neither GM nor the dealer has any obligation because there is nothing wrong with the car. Therefore, the best a lawyer might be able to do is persuade the dealer to swap because it would be good public relations.

The most sensible advice I have seen so far is for you and her to trade vehicles for a few months until hers stops out gassing. Parking the car in the sun, with the windows rolled up, so that it gets as hot as possible inside, will speed up the process.