New car smell: it smells kinda funny, but you can’t quite put your finger on what it is. So what is that smell, really? Although it’s one many of us love, it’s also something that not everyone finds appealing.
Here’s an explanation on what exactly “new car smell” is, and why it’s as distinctively fresh-smelling as we know it to be.
Those Wanting to Become an Auto Mechanic Might Know It’s a Mix of Volatile Organic Compounds
If you’re looking for careers in the auto industry and want to know what new car smell is made of, the scent causing it is comprised of a mix of 50 to 60 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are off-gassing in the vehicle. The name “new car smell” can be attributed to the compounds breaking down while in the vehicle. Their amount decreases by about 20 per cent each week, which causes the smell to not stick around very long.
The compounds are often released through objects that are plastic or vinyl, such as materials used on car doors or seats. While not everyone will find the smell of these chemicals appealing, some particularly love it. In fact, some companies have even started selling air fresheners and sprays meant to emulate the “new car smell” scent—though it’s not comprised of the actual chemicals involved in the original odour.
Most of the Off-Gassing Is Caused by Five Compounds in Particular
The off-gassing that brings about the new car smell might be comprised of many different compounds depending on the manufacturer, but most of it is made up of five compounds specifically. Ethylbenzene, which is a colourless gas and solvent found in paint and petroleum; styrene, a lab-created chemical used in carpet backing and rubber; toluene, a solvent often found in nail polish remover; trimethylbenzene, a liquid used as a gasoline additive that breaks down while in sunlight; and xylenes, a solvent used in the rubber, printing, and leather industries. However, studies show that the concentration of VOCs found in cars can be decreased by turning the vehicle’s air conditioning function on.
Car Companies Are Trying to Get Rid of It
As much as that smell might be great when you’ve finally bought yourself a car you’ve been coveting for ages, those same manufacturers are actually trying to rid it from their vehicles. This is because of the chemicals involved, as there are concerns over their impact on one’s health.
Those wanting to become an auto mechanic might be interested to know that car companies are making many different advancements towards eliminating new car smell. Ford, for example, has been using soy-based foam seat cushions as opposed to petroleum-based ones (starting with the 2008 Ford Mustang) because they neither have much of an odour, nor do they off-gas as much. Toyota is also attempting to eliminate new car smell by replacing glues with water-based solvents.
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