New car smell is the odor that comes from the combination of materials found in new automobiles, as well as other vehicles like buses or trucks.
There is some question about the possibility that these chemicals pose a health risk.
Most of the interior of an automobile consists of plastic held together with a number of adhesives and sealers.
Such materials release volatile organic compounds, via outgassing or offgassing. These fumes are generally attributed mixtures of many different chemicals offgassing and to plasticizers, although their vapor pressures are very low and they are not considered volatile.
Researchers tested more than 200 U.S. vehicles of model years 2011–2012 for chemicals such as organobromine compounds (associated with brominated flame retardants, or BFRs), organochlorine compounds (e.g., polyvinyl chloride, or PVC), and heavy metals that off-gas from various parts such as the steering wheel, dashboard, armrests and seats.
Some recommend keeping new cars well ventilated while driving, especially during the summer.
A 1995 analysis of the air from a new Lincoln Continental found over 50 volatile organic compounds, which were identified as coming from sources such as cleaning and lubricating compounds, paint, carpeting, leather and vinyl treatments, latex glue, and gasoline and exhaust fumes.
An analysis two months after the initial one found a significant reduction in the chemicals. The researchers observed that the potential toxicity of many of these compounds could pose a danger to human health.
The total volatile organic compound levels can reach 7,500 micrograms per cubic meter. Concentrations decayed approximately 90% over a three-week period.
Over sixty chemical compounds were identified inside the interiors of the four vehicles in this study.
In some instances the odor results from a manufacturing defect. According to official documents of Bentley Motors (BT26), an “obnoxious odor” in Bentley cars for model years 1999–2002 was traced to a rust inhibitor.
In some cultures, the new car smell is not considered desirable and manufacturers work to eliminate it.