I'm looking to buy a used car (2017 Prius Prime - leather interior) and the dealership informed me that there was a faint odor of smoke in the vehicle. They left an oxide machine in the vehicle over night and now claim that it's fine.

Do these oxide machines "permanently" remove smoke odors? I'm nervous about buying the vehicle and having smoke odors show up later. At the same time though, it's unclear where the odor came from (perhaps a person test driving?)

The dealership isn't sure how long the smell was present.

How reliable are oxide machines? Is it ever possible to remove smoke smell? The vehicle seats are leather if that makes any difference.

  • A good clean of the leather may be more effective...
    – Solar Mike
    Oct 30, 2018 at 16:34

1 Answer 1


It's been my personal experience that ozone generators are the best way to remove odors from cars. They don't cover up smells, but rather destroy the odor altogether. They will even kill mold and mildew in an enclosed space.

That said, are they perfect? The answer is no. Some smells are stubborn and to us non-smokers, the smell of tobacco smoke has got to be about the worst. It just seems to keep coming back. All of this, however, depends on how much it was smoked in, as you were alluding to. Seeing as how they left the ozone generator overnight is a good sign. Giving it some time for the ozone to do its thing will generally produce better results.

My suggestion to you is, if you are really repelled by tobacco smoke, I'd pass on the vehicle. I have a truck which I bought used. You can tell the truck was smoked in at one time or another (extent unknown). I have owned the truck for about eight years and still on some hot days you can smell the smoke as it oozes out of somewhere. Mind you, I've never used an ozone generator in it, I'm just saying it's there. (Truck has leather seats and was in really good shape when I bought it ... well taken care of.) I don't know that any amount of anything would completely cure the smell, even an ozone generator.

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