Model 3 smell

Model 3 smell

My wife gets a headache when she sits in the car. I don’t smell anything bad but it bothers her a great deal. We have aired the car (windows down) for days, spritzed vinegar and water all over the interior (with a wipedown), placed baking soda boxes inside at night, and baked the interior with a portable electric heater to above 100 degrees for two hours. Still not resolved.

Any other ideas?

christian | 10 mai 2018

Divorce. ;)

EvrGrn | 10 mai 2018


amrohabib | 10 mai 2018

I agree with Christian. There at least 3 billion women in this world and probably only 25000 model 3. See simple math problem solved!

SolidWhite60DX | 10 mai 2018

Does it still bother her if the car is just parked? It could be a form of motion sickness. Does it bother her if she's driving?

spuzzz123 | 10 mai 2018

What does it smell like? new car smell? I'd guess it smells a bit like vinegar now. That would definitely give me a headache. Sorry man I got nothin and no one in my family had complaints about a smell

phil | 10 mai 2018

Would've made a great Seinfeld episode.

lilbean | 10 mai 2018

The smell of vinegar would give me a headache. Does she suffer from migraines?

cornellio | 10 mai 2018

Can the sarcasm people! it's not the nice new car smell from fine leather. If you think the smell reminds you that you just bought a new car, you're missing the point. It's from toxic chemicals.

I agree with concerns of your wife- new car smell is horrible and a potential health hazard. There are chemicals off gassing from the interior. Don't have my M3 yet, but when I got my new Leaf my whole family complained about it. I had to drive with windows down to air out the car for months before it went away.

Mike83 | 10 mai 2018
It beats the CO problems.
But our Teslas seem to have no smell and I have a connoisseur nose. I love the Biohazard feature which I use when in traffic or near those stinky places.

cornellio | 10 mai 2018

"But our Teslas seem to have no smell"
Glad to hear that Mike. I expected my Tesla would smell much cleaner than my Nissan, although M3 doesn't have biohazard filters.

dyefrog | 10 mai 2018

"Would've made a great Seinfeld episode"


It did

Bated Breath | 10 mai 2018

One possability:
(of a physical illness or other condition) caused or aggravated by a mental factor such as internal conflict or stress.
"her doctor was convinced that most of Edith's problems were psychosomatic"
synonyms: (all) in the mind, psychological, irrational, stress-related, stress-induced, subjective, subconscious, unconscious
"psychosomatic illnesses can produce very real physical symptoms"

WormtownKris | 10 mai 2018

Don't you remember all those posts from ~5 years ago? The headache isn't from any smells. Its from sitting on top of all those toxic batteries leaching radiation into her brain......./s

twincam23 | 10 mai 2018

my kids are my biggest complainers.
they complained about the leather smell on my VW Jetta and BMW 335.
They did not have any complains on my Audi Q7 though.
Lets see if they complain about the M3 which I get to pickup on Saturday the 19th.
So excited!!!!

Mike83 | 10 mai 2018

Doctors I know claim 80% of their patients are hypochondriacs. So many fears can create stress which create symptoms.

cornellio | 10 mai 2018

"A new study suggests that new car smell comes from toxic chemicals off-gassing in a car’s interior, like brominated flame retardants (BFRs), chromium, and lead"

From 2012, so not new enough to include Tesla. They have a ranking of best/worst from that time.

shadoh | 10 mai 2018

"Don't have my M3 yet, but when I got my new Leaf my whole family complained about it. I had to drive with windows down to air out the car for months before it went away."

Man, I freaking love new car smell. :) And I'm the opposite of this - I avoid rolling down my windows as best I can because I want that wonderful smell to last as long as possible. I, too, have read all the articles and such about how it's actually toxic chemicals, they're bad for you, etc etc, but I only get a new car so often, and I'm going to enjoy that awesome new car smell as long as I can. ;-)

stevenmaifert | 10 mai 2018

Likely vapors from the Vegan Leather seats.

SO | 10 mai 2018

Does it help to wear a mask? I’m not saying to do so permanently. Just curious if it makes any difference.

MarylandS85 | 10 mai 2018

Worked for Darth Vader. Then again, it didn’t work for Kylo Ren, so I guess it’s user dependent. | 10 mai 2018

Perhaps it's not any smell. Other factors that might induce a headache:

1) Seat - perhaps it's poorly adjusted and/or just doesn't work for your wife. Perhaps try the back seats to see if this changes the feelings.

2) Sight - is the car much lower or higher than what she is used too? I doubt many people are affected by sightlines, but maybe she is? Maybe glare from the glass roof?

3) Noise - perhaps there is an inaudible sounds that bothers her? I'm thinking something in the 15 kHz range where most people can't hear. (Ability to hear high frequencies also goes down with age). Also consider what music you're playing and/or the source. Perhaps a highly compressed album (i.e. XM radio or over Bluetooth) is bothersome? Try no music and/or FLAC (non-lossy) files on a USB stick.

I'd also go to a showroom and sit in another Model 3 and see if it has the same effect. So many possibilities, that you'll need to do some tests to run down what it might be the cause. Good luck and I hope you report back if you find the cause.

ReD eXiLe ms us | 10 mai 2018

1) Take the kids to get ice cream, all they can eat.
2) Take them on multiple 0-100-0 MPH runs until they throw up.
3) Take the car to get it fully detailed.


Shock | 10 mai 2018

It won't off-gas forever.

Smell or not, some chemicals can be harmful.

There's also the [frankly strong] chance this is psychosomatic.

ddd | 10 mai 2018

My wife has commented that our new M3 doesn't have a new car smell, and has very little smell at all.

I also insisted that she drive it home from the lot when we picked it up, so it's been properly introduced...

johnmann | 10 mai 2018

“Doctors I know claim 80% of their patients are hypochondriacs.”

Is it just a coincidence that studies indicate that 80% of doctors are incompetent? :-)

But seriously, some people are very sensitive to certain types of odors. I have a very good sense of smell, but don’t find the smell of our Model 3 offensive. In fact it has very little odor at all. As previously suggested, it could be that your wife’s headaches are a result of the car’s strong regen. If you don’t have a delicate touch on the accelerator the passengers are subjected a constant pitching forward and back. You might try setting regen to low as an experiment and refining your pedal skills.

Joeyma | 28 Janvier 2019

I assumed this problem was solved as the last comment was May 2018, and most comments did not actually address this. However, I was/am unpleasantly surprised to find myself in this position. I have a car that I waited for 3 years, costs $58k out the door, and the new car smell lasted 2 weeks. I've had the car for nearly 2 months, and the new car smell, which was very pleasant, ended pretty much immediately after 2 weeks ended and now I'm faced with this strong chemical, burnt-plastic like, smell. I am suspecting it may be a molding smell, but I also got sick twice since I got the car, and every time entering this car, it troubles me and I hold my breath.

I think it's a little bit more serious than most comments. I honestly I wish to simply look the other way. I'm scheduling a service appointment, but may need to postpone it due to personal / family schedules of needing the car.

I don't mind updating once I talk to Tesla service. No one seriously has this issue? Anyone wants to buy my car back at my purchase price?

lilbean | 29 Janvier 2019

Oh yes, used car with a nasty smell at full price? Ok!

ClearWrap | 29 Janvier 2019

Maybe try Moso bags.

SteveWin1 | 29 Janvier 2019

My car smells fine. Its a different "new car smell" than other cars I've had, but it definitely doesn't bother me. 4+ months and it still smells roughly the same as when I bought it. New car smells are always "chemical" but I think it smells neutral to good.

TM3Q | 29 Janvier 2019

My wife almost sick in my car when I got her for the first ride.....note to myself next time warn her before I hit full acceleration from hold position ;-)

TickTock | 29 Janvier 2019

Mine is very chemically and unpleasant (and *my* sense of smell is very poor - my wife and kids are much more sensitive and they hate it). I've had is since November and still waiting for it to go away. I have the white interior. I wonder if that could be a factor.

RedPillSucks | 29 Janvier 2019

@Joeyma Well, women have more smell receptors than men and the vegan leather is like a polyurethane or some plastic, so that may be the issue. I wonder if there's some chemical that can neutralize the existing issue. Or research how long the outgassing will take.

TickTock | 29 Janvier 2019

Seems likely. We have always immediately installed leather seats into every car we've purchased prior to the Tesla (cloth seats and kids do not go well together). The white interior option seemed to be a good alternative (much cheaper, too!) but I hadn't considered the fumes would last so long.

HughManatee | 29 Janvier 2019

My 'fumes smell' lasted, in some form, for about 2 months. The first 2 weeks it was the strongest. Caveat: I'm know amongst my family as the guy who smells everything... super sensitive to even faint smells.

kcheng | 29 Janvier 2019

First, don't always assume it's the smell. The Model 3 can also induce more motion sickness, given how quick it is. Perhaps, try chill mode, if it might be motion sickness. Also, the view outward is better in the Model 3, since the glass is lower. That might also be inducing more motion sickness, as the perception of speed is enhanced by the lower glass. If in the front passenger seat, lower that seat as much as possible to reduce the perception of speed.

Second, I would think about past history. Do members of your family have a history of nausea from car smells and odors? Are there odors they prefer, that can mask the smells that irritate? Vanilla?

Good luck, I hope you find a solution.

Sunergy-NJ | 29 Janvier 2019

I've been using these Scent Wedge chips, you place in the vent ledge. Nice woody natural scents. And for every wedge they sell they plant a tree.

whazupman | 29 Janvier 2019

My model 3 has a chemical smell whenever the heated defrost is on. It is so strong it will burn your eyes. But as soon as I turn off the defrost the smell subsides. I suspect it is some glue or substance in the defrost airway.
I need to turn the defrost on high and leave it on and try to burn it out...ok, I'm heading to the garage to turn it on.

lilbean | 29 Janvier 2019

Same here. I don’t ever use the heater and the kiddos and I just bundle up if we are cold.

Hal Fisher | 29 Janvier 2019

You should keep all the windows opened as much as possible. It will air out much faster.

Joeyma | 31 Janvier 2019

I'm sorry if there's any miscommunication, but the original post and my post are talking about a smell. I hope to hear some constructive comments. I brought my car to service today, and they confirmed I'm not the only one with this issue. I actually thought I had some fit & finish issue, but I realized I don't really. I just wanna enjoy the car, you know.

@lilbean I'd say with a car wash, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference in a room of new Tesla Model 3's, but exactly my point: having paid full price for a "new car" with a nasty car smell is not much better.

@Sunergy-NJ @ClearWrap Thank you for your recommendation, but I would typically get an air freshener this was a second-hand car or something with a much lower price tag. I'll probably shampoo the interior first even though my car is like-new and see what happens, but I'll keep the scent wedge and moso bag in mind if they cannot fix it.

@whazupman I don't think I have my defrost on.

@RedPillSucks I am a man with good sense of smell. My wife is a woman who is not sensitive to different smells. Both of us smell it. I don't think generalizing about which gender has a higher possibility of having a good smell is related to this issue... It just never came to my radar about this smell... If it's the faux leather, I do hope there's a good solution.

@kcheng When you smell skunk do you consider it might be from motion sickness? My car has always been in chill mode, I know Tesla drives different. I know how to drive. I don't have my family member's health history and have not heard of any history of nausea from car smells and odors. The smell is either there or not, even if we didn't smell it, my uncle and aunt who also has a Model 3 confirmed the smell it just by opening the door and sitting in the car for less than 15 seconds. I'm glad you don't have this issue. I hope I find a solution, too.

@shadoh I loved my new car smell for two weeks.

@HughManatee I'd be happy to report back if it magically disappears in 2-3 months, but I just hit the mark and just turned it in to service.

Thank you for the feedback. | 31 Janvier 2019

@Joeyma - Any chance some food dropped somewhere and is now rotting away? I'd look really carefully under each seat and under the carpets. Any chance something on someone's foot was tracked into the carpet? One idea is to remove all the carpets - fairly easy to do and let the car air out for a few hours (windows rolled down if in a garage). Is the smell gone?

I'd also turn the fan on fairly low, maybe 3 or 4 and go by each vent and see if the scent is stronger at a specific vent (or all vents). If the scent is stronger, it might be something wrong with the air filter or something used in production left in the duct work. Good luck.

pavanforest | 5 février 2019

Brand now car, M3 Duel LR got weird smell when heaters tuned on, I noticed when temp setup to 67 or more.
For now stopped using heaters and using heated seats, win win of saves battery and heats where it needed ;) but sometimes fingers freezes as temp is low in car :(
so sometimes I have to use it by glasses down, doesn't make sense as cold gets in faster than cabin heats up.

kcheng | 5 février 2019

"Joeyma | January 31, 2019
@kcheng When you smell skunk do you consider it might be from motion sickness? My car has always been in chill mode, I know Tesla drives different. I know how to drive. I don't have my family member's health history and have not heard of any history of nausea from car smells and odors. The smell is either there or not, even if we didn't smell it, my uncle and aunt who also has a Model 3 confirmed the smell it just by opening the door and sitting in the car for less than 15 seconds. I'm glad you don't have this issue. I hope I find a solution, too."

Wow, totally uncalled for. Sorry, I tried to help. Better?

Joeyma | 14 février 2019

@kcheng and to some other responses: Sorry for my hurtful replies. I got offended by some of the comments trying to help because those comments included some... assumptions that don't apply to me, such as and these assumptions almost seem insulting... I'll be more aware to check myself as well to avoid making others feel the same way. This is actually one of the few forums I'm engaging because I care about this car community.

They returned my car in just 3 days, provided a loaner, cleaned my cabin filter, and the problem seems solved. The technician admitted the cabin filter is unusually dirty, and I only picked up the car in December. I'm gathering that either the cabin filter sat for too long, gathered dust, while the car was rushed to be assembled; whatever it was, they said they're doing a special order of a cabin filter for me. I'm not sure what that meant... I'm assuming if it's cleaned, it's solved. There may be another issue, so they wanted to special order for me, or maybe they just wanted to make me feel better. Unsure.

@pavanforest I'm so glad you have such a positive attitude. I'd bring it in to service if it's a bad fume.

Joeyma | 14 février 2019

My uncle who is a car enthusiast explains that when it rains, outside humidity can get trapped in the cabin filter and mildew may grow if it was circulating outside air and then if I turn on recirculate. That made sense but was a surprise to me as I thought that would have been solved by someone else long time ago already for all cars in general. I brought that up to the person helping me, she said it's actually the other way around. If I always have recirculate on, then humidity builds and the cabin filter does not get ventilated properly. I'm not sure which one is correct, so I just blasted the AC and circulated outside air for a while when it was raining and when it was sunny, and it seemed like a fine idea to flush out this potential issue.

Joeyma | 14 février 2019

I find some smell, still, and I was able to identify it was coming from the steering wheel, which was a surprise to me. It is not quite the same as the oder that troubled me, but it's definitely similar. I used the Lysol wipe to clean it, and it was good for about 3 days. At this point I'm not cringing every time I enter the car, but I believe it is still fair to say it is an identified problem-that something about the steering wheel is not super high quality or has a smell. To be fair, I also doubted it's absorbed my hands smell as I have sweaty hands, but I doubt it. in fact I suspected the steering wheel because I feel like my hands smell strange. Again, never in my life had I experienced this in any other car and I work at the bank (I don't work with dirty money and other things that might cause odor).

Potential problem: 1 the material on the steering wheel absorbs smells, either my hand sweat (but honestly, unlikely) or the smell that came out from the air conditioning,
2 that said material has an odor that is not strong so no one caught it, or it might simply fade over time,
3 that said material has an odor that becomes stronger as it's exposed under sun (California has torching sun), and being that now it's raining and winter, the smell faded and is not as strong

I'll let you guys know if there's any update, hoping this is helpful for someone else, but thanks again for all the attempt to help!

TeslaMarque | 14 février 2019

I can definitely recognize the smell of the “stain” used to finish the wood trim in the black interior package. Has antin been in a both a white and black interior car and noticed a different smell? It doesn’t look like the wood trim piece was finished with a varnish, only left stained. This can smell strongly of linseed oil that most wood stain is composed out of. I can’t comment on what was used to finish the white interior trim piece or even what material it’s made out of, but if I am right, they should have a slightly different smell.

lilbean | 14 février 2019

@Joeyma Ah, the steering wheel. Did it smell like pee like mine did?

kcheng | 14 février 2019

@joey, just so you know, you revived an old thread, and like you, others may have a similar issue, and happen upon this thread. Don't assume all the answers may only help you. They can help others too, so with that in mind, some comments may not seem appropriate to your problem, but may help someone else who reads this thread.

00Buck | 16 février 2019

Since late fall/winter when I started using heat in the car, when the climate control first comes on, there is an unmistakeable burnt smell of some sort. I'm no sommelier, so I can only describe it as chemically. So, I crack/roll down the windows for a short time and when I roll em back up, the smell is gone (apparently) or at least subsides. I have the auto temp set around 70. You'd think it would've disappeared by now, but it hasn't. Now that I type this, I'm going to include this in my next service request. Will try to remember to update.