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How to Improve the Air Quality in Your Car

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Car Air Conditioning Vents
Photo: Kaboompics

From the factory-fresh new-car smell to the stale, musty odors that come from accumulated crumbs and grime, our cars accumulate all sorts of scents. Some sickening smells can result in what’s colloquially known as “Sick-Car Syndrome,” a feeling of illness and lethargy that stems from breathing the pollutants trapped in your vehicle. Whether you’re looking to prevent or reverse your car’s air quality woes, consider these five tips.

Keep Your Car Fresh: Follow a maintenance schedule

Go for a deep clean

If you’re car looks a little disheveled, you’ll want to start by removing trash and vacuuming the carpets. Even if the cabin looks superficially clean, you may have pollutants hiding in the air vents and upholstery. If you have fabric upholstery, consider using a furniture-friendly wet-dry vacuum cleaner. By spraying hot water and soap, then vacuuming it up, these machines can suck all sorts of hidden pollutants out of your seats and carpets. Chemical fabric cleaners, on the other hand, can just drag more toxins into your car. Just make sure you roll down the windows and let your vehicle dry overnight. Leaving your car in a soggy state could lead to worsened mold growth.

Follow from afar

When you’re driving behind someone, you may be eating their exhaust without realizing it. To keep your cabin free from exhaust, try to follow at least three car lengths behind the vehicle in front of you. If you’re stuck in tight traffic or a bumper-to-bumper jam, use the cabin air recirculation features.

Everyone needs to vent

If you keep your car’s air vents closed, moisture can accumulate behind the vents and in the system. That moisture can encourage mold and mildew growth, which can lead to breathing troubles and foul odors. To combat moisture, run your car’s heater on high for few minutes. Also, scrub the inside of the air vents, where mold spores and dust can easily accumulate without anyone noticing.

Crack the window

We breathe oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, and breathing too much carbon dioxide can make you feel ill. That’s why it’s important to allow air circulation — especially on long road trips. Furthermore, if you or your passengers smoke, it’s a good idea to crack a window or open the window or the sunroof. Air circulation is vital, because when smoke is trapped in the cabin, it can easily lead to more stale odors and particulate matter building up in your car.

Change (or upgrade) your air filter

Not all air filters are created equally. If you or your loved ones have breathing troubles, invest in a high-quality air filter and consider purchasing an in-vehicle air purifier, if your vehicle didn’t come equipped with one. Also, change your air filter regularly, because even a high-quality filter can lose its effectiveness after accumulating too many pollutants.

Want that New-Car Smell?: Check out this model showroom

Sources: CarFax, Berkeley Wellness