PassMeFast’s Top 10: Car Scents

Car windscreen with air freshener hanging from interior mirror

If there’s one thing we all take for granted, it’s the smell of a new car. We may not know what we’ve got ’til it’s gone, but we definitely notice when our motor starts smelling a little funky. Though nothing beats proper cleaning, a good air freshener can make all the difference, and can help to transform a drive from drab to fab. But which should you choose? In this guide, we’re running through our top ten car scents. See which we chose, and let us know if you agree or disagree!

10. Pine

Pine forest
Image source: Christopher Rusev via Unsplash

With tree-shaped cardboard adorning the interior mirrors of cars the world over, it’s little wonder to see pine in this list. However, just because it’s universally known doesn’t make it the best car scent. The issue here isn’t the inspiration but the execution, with most pine air fresheners smelling more like a chemical reproduction than the real deal. Nonetheless, we have to bow to its global popularity by including it in our top ten.

9. Black ice

Image source: Fouad Ghazizadeh via Unsplash

Black ice is one of the most well-known car scents out there—but what exactly is it? After all, ice isn’t exactly known for its enticing aroma. We did some digging, and found that, officially, this is “a mysteriously enticing masculine scent of woods and citrus”. All well and good, but not exactly icy. For its somewhat misleading moniker, this popular fragrance has to settle for our #9 spot.

8. Watermelon

Sliced watermelon
Image source: Floh Maier via Unsplash

The aim of an air freshener is, of course, to keep things fresh. With this in mind, you can’t go too far wrong by choosing the fruity scent of watermelon. This is a great option for anyone who wants keep things sweet and summery behind the wheel. As an added bonus, the pattern of a watermelon slice fits perfectly into the ubiquitous tree shape of the most popular air freshener brand.

7. Cotton

Cotton bedding
Image source: Sylvie Tittel via Unsplash

Sometimes, you want your car scent to be less invigorating and more comforting. If you fall into this boat, then cotton is the perfect choice. This air freshener aims to capture a specific moment: when you’ve just taken freshly-dried linen off the washing line on a summer’s day. We just have one question: how did they manage to recreate it on a bit of cardboard?!

6. Cinnamon

Cinnamon sticks in blue bowl
Image source: Tetiana Bykovets via Unsplash

One of the more daring scents on our list, cinnamon air fresheners are amongst the few that transport the driver to a more wintry place. They still manage to evoke heat—but this time, it’s the feeling of being wrapped up beside an open fire, combined with the heady aroma of dark spices. A perfect option for dark, cold days when you can’t wait to get home.

5. Piña colada

Piña coladas served in coconuts
Image source: Brenda Godinez via Unsplash

It should go without saying that cocktails and driving don’t mix. Fortunately, there’s no alcohol involved here—just a delicious mix of coconut and pineapple. It’s enough to whisk you off to a tropical island… even if you’re actually commuting through Bradford. No wonder it made our list! Just remember: save the actual piña coladas for a day when you’re not the designated driver!

4. Cherry

Image source: Zidonito McBrain via Unsplash

Combining signature fruitiness with a bit more of a zing than some other scents, cherry has established itself as one of the most popular air fresheners on the road. While you can get classic cardboard trees bearing this aroma, the sweetness and tartness of cherries can be better enjoyed with a diffuser containing fragrance oils. The more you know!

3. Vanilla

Vanilla flowers
Image source: Chelsea Audibert via Unsplash

‘Vanilla’ may have become a byword for ‘boring’, but there’s a good reason that it’s such an all-pervasive aroma: it smells (and tastes) great! In fact, vanillin, a natural compound found in vanilla pods, is the world’s most popular flavour. There are endless varieties of vanilla-based scents to use in your car, from the classic yellow cardboard trees to fancier diffusers inspired by Yankee Candles. Pick your favourite and enjoy the ride!

2. New car scent

Mercedes-Benz car interior
Image source: Ildar Garifullin via Unsplash

Anyone who’s ever purchased a brand new car will know that it smells incredible… at first. Unfortunately, as time wears on, day-to-day wear and tear will see that fresh aroma replaced by more of a musky odour. Not ideal—but there is a solution! Yep, the ‘new car smell’ air freshener is so popular because it helps motorists to relive that moment when their vehicle arrived straight from the dealership, and it takes a deservedly high ranking in our top ten.

1. Peach

Peach on pink background
Image source: Charles Deluvio via Unsplash

Didn’t expect to see the humble peach making it to the top spot? Well then, my friend, you have been missing out. This air freshener provides your car with a much-needed burst of fruitiness without being overpowering. It’s no wonder that we’re just peachy keen about this one! For an extra pro tip, try and hunt yourself down a bellini air freshener for a bartender-style twist on this fruity favourite.

That completes our rundown of the top ten car scents! Was your favourite on the list, or is there anything we missed? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. We’ll be back with more top tens soon!

By Andy Boardman

Andy has been part of the PassMeFast Blog team from the very beginning. He'll provide you with plenty of useful motoring advice, helping you to get the most out of every trip. When he's not writing here, you're most likely to find Andy on the way to his next destination.


  1. Reply

    Sandra Faye Butler

    I looking to get my license

    1. Reply

      Andy Boardman

      Hi Sandra,

      Thanks for your interest in PassMeFast. I’ve passed your details onto our sales team, who’ll be in touch shortly. All the best for your driving future!


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