Paint smell after being rear ended

I was rear ended before thanksgiving and they worked on it over the holiday so it ended up sitting in the shop for a while. After I got it back, it had this overpowering paint smell. the body shop vacuumed and hid air fresheners in the car to attempt to fix it as well as cleaning the floor mats when they tracked something over.
the paint smell persisted. it was bad enough that it was causing me headaches on my 15 minute drive to and from work. they baked the back bumper some more (twice actually) and it didnt fix it. The entire time, they have claimed that they cannot smell it though others not in the automotive industry can. The eventually managed to mask it with what they call a ‘clean’ smell. I cannot identify what it is but still gives the same reaction of headaches.

I have left it with the windows down for about a week all told and they paid for the HVAC filter to be changed which didnt help the smell. My concern is that as the temperature fluctuates the paint smell will come back when its hot but not be noticable when its colder. Only the ‘other’ smell is noticable when its colder.

the insurance company has decided that the bumper is fixed and thus they are done even though it was their body shop which caused the smells.

any idea on how to get rid of these smells?

First thing to do is get rid of the air fresheners.

I know you are smelling something,but I don’t think it’s paint. Most auto paint is low VOC paint. Once it is dry it wont have a smell. My guess is was what ever they used to clean it after the work was done. You need to take it to a good detail shop ( not a wash and vac type). They will be able to help you. I used to own a detail shop and we have had chem smell’s after cleaning. In those case’s we had to use a ozone machine to get the smell out.

yeah the airfresheners came out as soon as we saw them. We talked to our dealer since thats where we get most of our stuff done and they said the ozone machine would leave another smell. any truth to that?

Have you looked in the trunk for spilled thinner? Have you removed the fuel fill cap and smelled the fumes from the tank?

Yes, if not used properly an Ozone machine will leave your car smelling like bleach, and it takes FOREVER to go away. If used properly (low settings, cycling on and off, etc), it can work wonders.

Yes. A Ozone machine most used properly. That is why I said a good detail shop. I have painted the inside of cars/trucks with no after smell. If I had to guess has to what has happen… They cleaned the seats and carpet with to much water and soap. The soap is rotting in the seats and carpet. This can cause mold. I have seen it poorly detailed cars. There were some guys near my shop that would flood the floor with soapy water and then vac it up. We would get them to clean them right. It would cause my nose to run and eyes to burn when I would get in them.

Any chance this rear end collision could have damaged a fuel tank or fuel line and what you’re smelling is actually gasoline vapor?

I’m not saying the tank was actually hit but the force of an impact can do some funny things.

Paint fumes in my experience are relatively short lived, make sure your system is not set on recirculate and keep the back windows cracked open.