One of the most attractive characteristics of a brand new vehicle is the way that the interior smells. The smell of a pre-owned car, on the other hand, largely depends on the habits of the previous owner and the efficacy of cleaning methods used on the vehicle's interior.

Whether your pre-owned car smells of cigarette smoke or simply seems stale, you can make the vehicle smell like new by taking the following steps.

Start Your Search in the Right Place

If you're in the market for a preowned car and don't want to worry about unpleasant lingering odors, shop with a reputable dealership. The used cars available from an established dealership have undergone professional cleaning, unlike most vehicles that are sale by owner or through a less trustworthy dealership.

If you start with a cleaner car, it'll be easier to achieve and maintain a fresh, pleasant smell.

Check Your Air Filters

If you purchased your pre-owned vehicle from a dealership, all of the air filters should be brand new. If you bought your car elsewhere, dirty air filters are one of the most common causes of strange vehicle smells.

Pay specific attention to the cabin air filter. All the air that enters your car through the heating and cooling system goes through the cabin filter. Dirt or debris caught in the cabin filter can immediately change the way your car smells and feels.

Swap the old filter out for a new one to improve the smell.

While replacing this filter should not be difficult, you may need to check your owner's manual to find it. Many cabin filters are located behind the glove box or in other discreet places.

Vacuum the Interior

Odors can come from a number of sources, including food particles left in the crevices of your seats. Use a handheld vacuum attachment to clean all the openings in your seats, your floor mats and carpeting, and the space between your cupholders and your seats.

Check under your seats for any items that may have rolled out of sight and become stuck there. If your back seats are removable, take them out so you can perform a more thorough cleaning.

Clean the Upholstery

Some odor-causing substances appear as residue rather than visible particles. To get rid of old spills and similar issues, wash your upholstery and carpeting. First, use a broom or handheld brush to clear away any loose grime.

If you have leather, plastic, or other non-fabric upholstery, clean the seats with a damp cloth. For tough spots, apply a small amount of dish soap and scrub the area with your cloth. If you have fabric upholstery, use a car shampoo.

Be sure to let your seats dry completely before the next time you drive.

Use a Deodorizer Before Trying an Air Freshener

You may be tempted to simply hang up an air freshener to combat any odors in your car. However, most air fresheners cover odors rather than getting rid of them. Before you pick an air freshener scent, use a deodorizer.

To use a deodorizer spray or ozone machine most effectively, first turn on your car and switch on the air conditioner. Spray the deodorizer into the intake vents on your dashboard or run the ozone machine in the front of your car.

Use the spray until the air from your vents smells neutral. Then, take the same steps while running the heater.

You should not stay in the car while running an ozone machine. Ozone machines remove oxygen from the air and can cause lightheadedness and other negative symptoms.

Turn on the machine for 10 minutes, let the car rest, then check the scent. Run the machine for another 10 minutes if the air still smells of something other than ozone. Use this method to deodorize your heating system as well.

If you use an ozone machine, remember to vacuum afterward since ozone machines work by binding with airborne particles and forcing them to fall. If you don't remove these particles once you turn off the machine, the smell may remain.  

Choose an Effective Air Freshener

Once you've deodorized your car, pick a scent that you love. For a stronger smell, choose an air freshener that distributes the scent throughout your vehicle, such as vent clip. For a touch of freshness, hang an air freshener from your rearview mirror or opt for an air freshener that releases its fragrance as the temperature changes.

Avoid Odor-Causing Habits

Once you achieve the right smell in your car, maintain the scent by cultivating good habits. Avoid eating in your car and letting waste sit in a warm car or stay in your car overnight.

Use these guidelines to ensure that your new-to-you car smells brand new, no matter how many previous owners the vehicle may have had.

Categories: Pre-Owned Inventory