New Car Smell” (NCS) is unique smell of the interior of a brand new car. Most people find they like it, probably because they associate it with the excitement of owning a new vehicle. This is what Brown Daub Fiat of Easton, PA seems to think. In fact, some people like it so much that they buy air freshenersdesigned to mimic the smell.  But some people think the new car smell might not be perfectly safe to breath. In this article, we will look a closer at this dilemma.

What is it?

As we mentioned above, NCS is simply the smell that you perceive when you sit in a brand new car. The smell is the combination of dozens of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) being released from things like the plastic dash, the carpets, the seats and other polymer-based interior materials. Chemical engineers call this process “out-gassing.” Outgassing is what almost all polymers and plastics do when they are freshly made. Think of it like the smells that occur when you are cooking.

So are they harmful?

Some people think NCS volatile compounds are harmful because of the chemicals involved. Some of the VOCs, like ethyl benzene and formaldehyde, are the solvents found in paints and glues, and they are toxic in high concentrations.

But are there enough of these compounds in NCS to be unhealthy?Well, guess what, the best way to find out is to do a scientific study. Fortunately several have been done over the years. Let’s talk about one of the major studies and see what theyfound out.

The University of Munich study

Aconducted at the Technical University of Munich in 2007 concluded that the VOCs released don’t pose any significant threats to human health. The study was conducted by collecting air samples from the interiors of new cars that placed under high intensity lights. The average interior temperature in the test cars was 150-degree F. They then exposed mammalian cells to these VOC samples to look for toxic effects. None were found.

If you are still concerned

If you are still concerned, at least you don’t have to worry for long. Most of the volatile chemicals in a car’s interior out-gasquickly, generally some 20% per day.  So, during the first week, drive with the windows down and you’ll be all set.


Enjoy the fragrance of your NCS and if any of your eco-conscious friends are concerned, tell them about the Technical University of Munich study.  There are people who worry about everything but that wonderful NCS isn’t an issue to be concerned about.

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