I’ll never forget that time (in my youth) when I went surfing on the west coast of Scotland. It wasn’t really the surfing trip that was memorable, but the stench that lingered in my car for months after that made it unforgettable. Not really thinking about the consequences at the time, I left my soggy saltwater covered wetsuit and booties in the back whilst I drove home with the heater blasting (because the sea is cold in Scotland!). I can’t even begin to describe how nasty that smell was that lingered for…ever. So, in a nutshell, don’t leave smelly stuff in your vehicle.
The new car smell
People love the new car smell so much that air freshener companies are cashing in on it. Whilst these air fresheners might smell nice to some, most people would probably agree, it’s not quite the same as the original new car smell. That smell typically comes from the materials and processes that are used in manufacturing the vehicle. I’ve noticed, in my ‘over ten years experience’ with new vehicles, there are even different smells between manufacturers and between different vehicles too. For example, vehicles with real leather or high-end leather will have a strong leather smell.
How to keep the new car smell
Keep your vehicle clean.
Detail it often by vacuuming and using a damp cloth to clean the interior plastics.
Don’t leave smelly items in it.
This goes for wetsuits too, but gym bags, shoes, trash and any food items. Sorry, this also includes the pooch.
Leave eating to the kitchen.
This may be the most difficult one to overcome, but if you really want to keep that new car smell, literally don’t eat in your vehicle. Especially hot, fast food and takeaway. If you must, you can minimize the damage by turning off the heater/air conditioning vents so the smell doesn’t get sucked in.
Smoking will cover up that new car smell pretty darn quick, and if the vehicle has cloth seats, it will probably never come out.
Leather conditioner does a great job of not only conditioning the leather, keeping it soft and clean but it will bring back the fresh new leather smell.
Open the windows
If you do have a slight odor in your vehicle, driving with the windows down for a bit should help clear it out (assuming it’s clean and there’s no food or smelly items inside).
An in-car air ionizer may help (not tried and tested yet though). Some manufacturers such as Buick, are now even building these into the vehicle as standard.
Hope this helps, if you have any tricks or tips to let us know how you keep you’re vehicle smelling good, let us know!
Lauren has been working in the automotive industry both in the U.K and in the U.S. for over 10 years. A car geek, photographer, big game chaser and bagpipe player, powered by coffee. Send your questions to: