Why Do New Tires Smell (Rubber Smell, Is It Toxic + More)

After getting new tires, you’ll definitely notice that they have a strong distinctive smell, and may be curious as to the reason why this is.

So, why do new tires smell? If you’re interested in learning more, keep reading for more information on the subject!

Why Do New Tires Smell?

New tires smell due to the compounds used to treat and process the rubber, which undergoes more of these processes than other forms of rubber as it needs to be strong and durable for the conditions in which it’s used. Ultimately, these compounds release into the air in the form of vapors, causing the strong smell.

If you’d like to learn more about the new tire smell, including whether or not it’s harmful, how to get rid of it and more, keep reading this article for more tips and facts!

Why Do New Tires Smell So Good?

As stated earlier, new tires have their signature smell due to the chemicals that have been used to treat them.

There are over 200 chemicals used to process rubber that’s used in tires, therefore it’s a little difficult to pin down the exact one that has a scent that attracts people.

Tire rubber could also be composed of between 14 and 16 different types of rubber with different properties that combine to produce the ideal results.

Additionally, rubber has a strong smell on its own, so combining different types will definitely create a stronger smell that some would find inviting, which is where the signature rubber smell that people refer to comes from.

During the tire manufacturing process, these different forms of rubber are combined and then cooked at extremely high temperatures, with different compounds added in to tweak the cooking process of some of them as required.

This process is called “curing” and it’s what contributes the most to the smell that tires have when they’re finally done, which lingers long after they leave the factory.

However, some companies have managed to mask the tire smell with other scents. For example, in 2007, the tire manufacturer Kumho began using scented oils in their tires that would make them smell like lavender for up to a whole year after purchase.

They named this line of tires the Ecsta DX and said they created it to use the concept of the new tire smell that many people are familiar with to build a brand that could compete with industry giants like Michelin and Goodyear,

Why Do My Tires Smell Like Burning Rubber?

Brand new tires don’t smell like burning rubber until you start driving on them, as they’re going to rub against the pavement, and the friction is going to generate heat that will register to your nostrils as burning rubber.

Sometimes, though, the tires could rub against other components of and around the wheel if they haven’t been mounted properly.

You can tell if the latter is the issue if the ride isn’t as smooth as you would generally expect and the burning rubber smell is very strong.

If this is the problem, then, take your car to the shop immediately and have the tires remounted properly as they pose a serious risk otherwise.

Is The Smell Of Rubber Harmful?

Is The Smell Of Rubber Harmful?

There isn’t enough data on the subject to confirm or deny the harmful effects of smelling rubber.

However,  the rubber you encounter in everyday life has been processed and contains several compounds, meaning you should probably avoid smelling it for too long to be safe.

Are Tires Toxic To Breathe?

As we’ve stated above, tires use some of the most processed rubber around, and the amount of chemicals used to create it means you shouldn’t inhale them for too long.

Like glue, exhaust smoke or paint fumes, finding yourself drawn to the smell of rubber doesn’t make it safe, and could actually be harmful to you, particularly for those who are pregnant or have respiratory issues.

Avoid the smell of tires even more if they’re burning, as they release extremely toxic compounds that pose a risk to the environment as well as your health.

When tires burn, they produce a thick black smoke that could choke you at close quarters or potentially cause cancer from farther away.

Any carcinogenic compounds in tires that make them a hazard when they’re burning are still present in the normal state. Overall, you should avoid breathing in the new tire smell.

How Do I Make My Tires Not Smell?

One of the easiest ways to get rid of the new tire smell is by leaving them (on the vehicle or otherwise) outside where the vapors can release into the air and dissipate quicker.

For something like spare tires or ones you haven’t mounted yet, you could try washing them as a more direct way of getting rid of the smell.

To wash tires, use dishwashing liquid, which will get rid of the residual oils and compounds, then rinse it afterwards.

Fill a tub with about 5 gallons (about 23 liters) of distilled white vinegar and soak the tire in this for a few hours on each side.

Next, wash and rinse again using dishwashing liquid before leaving it out in the sun to dry.

Additionally, if you’re cleaning a spare tire using this method, you can sprinkle some baking soda in the trunk to absorb the smell and vacuum it after.

To know more, you can also see our posts on why are tires made of rubber, how hot do tires get on the road, and what are yellow & red dots on new tires.

Conclusion

Tires have their distinct smell due to all of the compounds and processes that have been used to treat tires in order to endure strenuous conditions better than regular rubber.

There is no one compound that makes new tires smell the way they do, but rather the smell is a result of the different compounds interacting together.

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