Nasty dope smell a growing rental car issue

James Raia

The smell of dope smoke in cars is a growing concern in the rental car industry.

How about that dope smell in your rental car?

It’s an increasing issue nationwide. Travelers who rent vehicles may have recently noticed the unusual odor or they may be making it with their smoking preferences.

Rental agencies around the country have reported an increase in the smell of pot in their fleets. Since marijuana is legal or decriminalized and allowed for medicinal purposes in all but eight states, many drivers believe it’s OK to smoke it in rental vehicles. It’s not.

The rank dope smell in cars is a growing concern in the rental car industry.
The rank dope smell in cars is a growing concern in the rental car industry.

Rental agency representatives are increasing having to explain the policy prohibiting smoking in rental vehicles includes tobacco, vaping and pot. The smell of pot is particularly difficult to eradicate.

Dope Smell: Fines Levied On Rentals

Many dealers require customers to sign a contract agreeing to not smoke or vape in a loaner car or a $150 to $250 cleaning fee. Reminders on the dashboards of rental vehicles have become prominent.

The marijuana smell in cars has also affected dealerships offering loaner vehicles. Customers often return cars and trucks with vaping and pot odor. Mechanics who work on vehicles sometimes have difficulty entering tbecause the smell is too strong.

Nasty smells in vehicles have also prompted more work for business The Odor Doctors, a Houston-based car detailing company. It specializes in removing putrid odors from cars and trucks. The company also has mobile services in California, Florida, Atlanta, Nevada and Illinois.

Frank Simmons, CEO of The Odor Doctors told the Detroit Free Press, more than half of the calls his company receives are to remove the smell of smoke from cigarettes, marijuana or vaping.

“If you smoke marijuana, cigarettes or vape, it’s all in that same general idea,” Simmons told the newspaper. “A vapor type product does omit an inorganic odor. An inorganic smell would be perfume and sometimes people will spray that to mask another odor and it’s really hard to get it out.”

The process for eliminating smoke from vehicles sometimes involves an oxidation machine. It’s left on inside a vehicle for several hours to overnight to lift odors and clean the car. It’s not always successful. The Odor Doctors company uses steam and it has treated more than 70,000 vehicles in the past 15 years.

Vehicles with a smoke smell that can’t be eliminated can lose 10 percent of their resale values, according to industry experts.

Article Last Updated: October 21, 2020.

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