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    Thread: My ordeal removing smoke odor

    1. Member
      Join Date
      Feb 16th, 1999
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      Ellicott City, MD
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      06-16-2019 01:10 PM #1
      tl;dr: Bought a used car from a dealer, discovered after the purchase that it was smoked in extensively, dealer tried several times to address and failed completely. I did it myself and finally got it resolved (I think).

      -----------------------------------------------

      About a month ago, I bought this 2017 Subaru Outback from a local Subie dealer.



      When I test drove the car, it was spotless outside, a few scuffs inside - mostly in the cargo area - and smelled fine, as though it had been freshly detailed. The car had only 20,800 miles on it, and at $22k, I thought it was a good deal so went for it after some minor price negotiations.

      After taking the car home, later that evening as the air freshener used by the dealer's detail shop began to wear off, I could detect an increasingly noticeable odor of cigarette smoke. I was pissed...obviously the dealer was never going to mention this, and since I didn't detect anything on the test drive, it never occurred to me to ask. So I brought the car back the next day and dropped it off - my sales rep was very accommodating and gave it back to their detail shop for another attempt at removing the smoke odor. Two days later, the odor was back - very little difference.

      I decided to attack the problem myself, and gave the interior a thorough cleaning, and then I used an ozone generator. This all worked for several days, but still I could smell some tobacco odor. At this point I contacted the dealer manager, who agreed to take the car back to his detailer one more time. When I got the car back I *still* wasn't happy - so this time I tried again myself.

      I bought some all purpose degreaser (Mean Green Super Strength, diluted 4:1) and went to town on the seats and carpet with a drill brush and my Bissell Little Green Machine extractor.

      This is what I took out of just the drivers seat:



      I got the same crap out of the passenger seat, and then I wiped down the headliner, dash, door panels, and rubber gaskets around doors and windows with a microfiber soaked in the APC.

      The car FINALLY seems to be just about free of any lingering smoke odor, but I will probably give it one more ozone treatment just to be sure.

      While I've done well with used cars in the past (my 4Runner and Cruze were both bought used), this time I got burned a bit. And while I give the dealer props for at least *trying* to fix this, their detail shop needs to learn how to deal with this sort of thing. And honestly, if the dealer had TOLD me that this car was smoked in, I almost certainly would not have bought it and probably would have just bought one of their new 2019s on the lot.

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    3. Member pdqgp's Avatar
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      Jul 5th, 2004
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      Central Ohio
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      06-19-2019 09:07 PM #2
      If you still have issues go to Home Depot and pick up some ODO BAN in the cleaning isle. It's designed for house fires, etc. and is sold as a concentrate for use in machines. There's also a 32oz RTU Spray version as well. Works great on all kinds of cleanings. Eucalyptus scent but fades after a day or so.

      A really good RTU alternative is Zero Odor Pro - Commercial Strength Odor Eliminator. Get it off Amazon. Just a few sprays is all it takes. Actually smells like the air from an Ozone Generator. Used it on a recent detail for a customer that hauled mulch in the back of a Volt. Gone.....poof.....no more dirt smell. Works great.

      Good luck.
      2018 Midnight Black Metallic AWD Infiniti Q50S Red Sport | BMS JB4 | 395awhp/430awtq
      2018 Ruby Red Metallic Lincoln MK-C Reserve | AWD 2.3l EcoBoost - Wife's
      2001 Patriot Blue Pearl Jeep Cherokee Limited - Son's

    4. n00b
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      08-26-2019 04:00 PM #3
      If all else fails, you can use an ozone generator. I purchased a highly rated one on amazon for about $90. It will remove smoke or any musty smells. If interested, make sure you do a little reading on it prior to use so you don't have any issues. Or shoot me a message and I can explain. Best of luck.

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    6. Member pdqgp's Avatar
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      09-04-2019 11:45 AM #4
      Quote Originally Posted by dicecheat View Post
      If all else fails, you can use an ozone generator. I purchased a highly rated one on amazon for about $90. It will remove smoke or any musty smells. If interested, make sure you do a little reading on it prior to use so you don't have any issues. Or shoot me a message and I can explain. Best of luck.
      ^^ x2

      Key with Ozone is to keep the machine outside the vehicle and pump in the O3. The reason being is the machine needs to breath O2 / clean fresh air (more than just a cracked window) in order to "shock" the environment and kill germs and odors. If left inside the vehicle, it's efficiency drops off quickly as it's simply re-breathing it's own O3.

      I've since cut a hold in this old couch cushion for an easier and cleaner use/look of it all.

      Last edited by pdqgp; 09-04-2019 at 11:48 AM.
      2018 Midnight Black Metallic AWD Infiniti Q50S Red Sport | BMS JB4 | 395awhp/430awtq
      2018 Ruby Red Metallic Lincoln MK-C Reserve | AWD 2.3l EcoBoost - Wife's
      2001 Patriot Blue Pearl Jeep Cherokee Limited - Son's

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