Will Vaping Destroy Your Car’s Interior?

One of smoking’s many drawbacks is that it can destroy your car’s interior and make upholstery maintenance a big challenge. The smell of smoke can seep deep into the seats’ fabric, leaving its scent behind. The result, among other problems, can be a lowered resale value on your vehicle. Is this also true for vaping?

Many wonder whether vaping, which has become a popular alternative to smoking in recent years, can cause similar problems in vehicles. If you or someone in your household vapes regularly, read on for some tips to keep in mind when considering vaping in your car, truck, or SUV. 

Is vaping a safe alternative to smoking?

A driver vaping behind the wheel of a moving car
A driver vaping behind the wheel | Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Many people take up vaping because they’re under the impression that it’s a safe alternative to smoking. As Merck Manuals reminds us, after all, two out of three long-term users of cigarettes end up dying due to their nicotine addiction. The toxic chemicals in cigarettes end up making their way into the lungs and can cause cancer, emphysema, and similar ailments. 

However, is vaping truly a safer way to get one’s nicotine fix? On the one hand, the toxic chemicals in e-cigarettes are indeed present in lower doses than in traditional tobacco cigarettes. On the other hand, these chemicals are nowhere near absent from vaping products.

Documented short-term effects of e-cigarettes include chronic cough, bronchitis, asthma exacerbation, and pneumonia. It also seems quite likely that vaping products will have serious long-term effects on their users as well. However, the research is still out on the subject. 

Vaping is harmful to vehicle interiors

While the effects on users’ health are the most serious concerns centered around vaping, it can also have other negative consequences, including damage to car interiors

Quora users have noted, for example, that vaping in a vehicle can leave a sticky residue behind on windows. This can create a serious visibility hazard when driving. As some Reddit commenters have observed, the residue left behind by e-cigarettes can be especially challenging to deal with in the cold winter months, when it gets mistaken for normal window fogging until the defroster turns out to be powerless against it. If you smoke or frequently vape in your vehicle, you’ll likely also want to replace your cabin air filter more often than you might otherwise, as residue can build up there as well.

For additional safety, Smart Motorist reminds drivers to keep in mind that visibility is also affected by the fumes produced by e-cigarettes when vaping. They produce clouds of vapor much thicker than traditional cigarettes, a situation that can impede vision at the wheel.

Do these things if you vape while driving

Eciglopedia offers some helpful tips to keep in mind if you find yourself compelled to use an e-cigarette in your vehicle or someone else’s. First and most important, keep your windows down. This is the only real way to keep the sticky residue that vaping creates from building up on your windows. Vaping with your windows up is pretty much a guaranteed way to have some upcoming cleaning work on your hands. 

If you do end up with residue on your windows, however, don’t despair. The best way to remove it and return to a safe state of visibility is to clean your windows with a combination of vinegar and water or a specialized glass cleaner. 

All in all, vaping in your vehicle may be a better alternative than smoking, but it’s still not a great way to treat your car or your body. Particularly if you have children who travel with you frequently, Smart Motorist also offers a reminder that the effects of any e-cigarette residue absorbed into their bodies from seats are also unknown at this time.

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