View Full Version : Harbor Freight Stinks


dkroth
10-14-2010, 11:27 AM
No, really. Harbor Freight actually stinks.

Every time I go to my local HF I walk in the door and there is a powerful, distinctive smell to the place. Sometimes I can even smell it from the sidewalk.

Does your Harbor Freight Stink?

What is it? Solvent from all that orange paint drying? Chemicals out-gassing of all those tarps? Binding agent from all the cheap cardboard packing?

Hiball
10-14-2010, 11:43 AM
Yes.. There is a Distinctive Odor, Ive been in a couple different stores and its the same Odor.

Think about it this way... IF there willing to paint our childrens toys with Lead Paint, What do you think there doing with our Tools and Free Flashlights?

:headscrat:headscrat:headscrat:headscrat:headscrat = :(

MrMark
10-14-2010, 11:43 AM
I am allergic to Harbor Freight and have never been in there and that is not going to change as nothing good could come of it but I have heard from at least THREE people, you being the FOURTH, that Harbor Freight, indeed stinks. I have further heard that the stink will get on your clothes and will not come out for days.

Others have told me that the stink comes from the floor tiles or the products themselves that outgass. You can only imagine the stuff that goes on in those China factories that produce the stuff.

My advice: if you want to avoid stinking, avoid Harbor Frieght. If not, both you are your tools will stink.

Bolster
10-14-2010, 11:44 AM
Yep, my local HF stinks. I always thought it was the customers, but maybe it's the plastic in the tools?

eborcim
10-14-2010, 11:45 AM
An co-worker is from China and loves to go in that store b/c it reminds him of home..:lol_hitti

Maybe the local air quality boards should be called for interior air pollution. They've outlawed cigs in out town, why not stinky ass stores?

Hiball
10-14-2010, 11:47 AM
An co-worker is from China and loves to go in that store b/c it reminds him of home..:lol_hitti

Maybe the local air quality boards should be called for interior air pollution. They've outlawed cigs in out town, why not stinky ass stores?

That Columbia Store is Pure Funk..

harryhood
10-14-2010, 11:53 AM
I smell I notice in all the harbor freight stores is that cheap rubber smell

A1an
10-14-2010, 11:58 AM
Went in there with my wife this weekend and she commented on the foul odor. Smells like machine oil and body odor.

chevelle67
10-14-2010, 12:04 PM
The store in Appleton, WI. also stinks. They have some knockoff dog bone creepers that are solid plastic and the smell is so intense it gave me a headache.

nikonica
10-14-2010, 12:11 PM
It's kind of a rubber smell, maybe. It could be ozone from cheap power tools. I notice it on other Chinese shop equipment too, when you remove it from the box. Whenever I think of Harbor Freight one of the most powerful, subconscious memories is the smell - it's as if I was actually in their store.

I think the odor is a combination of rubber (mallets, soft-grip tools, plier grips, etc.) and the brown "yak grease" that they smear on machined surfaces as a substitute for Cosmolene.

With the exception of some 1/2"-drive six-point sockets (which really aren't bad tools at all) I don't think I've purchased anything there, but once in awhile I pay a visit just to witness the spectacle that it is. Free flashlights. Air tools for $3.00. Wrench sets for $8.00. Seriously? Is that how greedy/cheap we have become? The people who work there are friendly and nobody is trying to hide that their stuff is cheap, so I can't really hold anything against them.

fflintstone
10-14-2010, 12:17 PM
I have not noticed it in the store, however I have noticed a mild odor unpacking some Chinese items, the smell is the same, regardless of item. Even get the odor unpacking AK47ís.

harryhood
10-14-2010, 12:19 PM
If you want to get the full smell effect go take a whiff of a rubber wheel in HF. You'll get the smell full on.

Lump
10-14-2010, 12:22 PM
+1 on the rubber smell. You can smell that same stench on kid's bicycles at WalMart, or wherever. It's whatever solvent they use on "rubber tire" production. Check out cheap two-wheel furniture dollys, lawn tractor tires, etc. That same smell is there. I posted on Garage Journal about this same subject months ago. I would like to know exactly what that chemical is, and why we don't smell it on US-made rubber products. Is it a chemical which the EPA has banned in the US, maybe? Is it something toxic, which we should worry about? My concern isn't for my shop tools...but for my grandkids bikes and riding toys.

Zebu Fellenz
10-14-2010, 12:52 PM
Glad to hear I'm not the only one who noticed the smell. I've been in a HF exactly one time and will probably never go back to one, I don't care if some things are a great bargain, I simply cannot stand the smell.

kc-steve
10-14-2010, 12:55 PM
Yep, my local HF stinks. I always thought it was the customers, but maybe it's the plastic in the tools?

Yup, I think you are right. After bringing home some power tools like sanders, I noticed the odor in my home.

Steve

MrMark
10-14-2010, 01:03 PM
Great.

Go to Harbor Freight and now you, your tools, and your house will stink.

djb2
10-14-2010, 01:05 PM
I'm also curious about what chemical process causes the smell.

I don't associate it with H-F specially. The same smell is on many Chinese rubber products, but rarely on products from other countries. (And I suspect the CoO label when I do smell it elsewhere.)

You can pick up the smell at almost any hardware or home improvement store, just not as concentrated.

strnjss
10-14-2010, 01:07 PM
Anytime I handle a HF tool, my hands smell like machine oil all day even after washing them. I've never understood why cheap tools are always covered in machine oil. I mean even the free screwdrivers I just got from them smell of it!

mrholeshot
10-14-2010, 01:08 PM
Bunch of whimps, Once you get past the smell you can have a good time

kab00m
10-14-2010, 01:15 PM
Bunch of whimps, Once you get past the smell you can have a good time

Do I really, really need this? Ah, what the hell. It's only .99 cents.

:thumbup:

drmarkr
10-14-2010, 01:18 PM
Jap motorcycles are coated in an oil film to prevent rust. I'm betting this is why they're coated in the machine oil to get here form china.

And yes, our local store smells exactly the same. ANY store with a lot of chinese imports does.

Theloniousmonk
10-14-2010, 01:22 PM
my store still smells like mothballs - used to be a fabric store in the location.

alot of the "oem" replacement parts for some of the cars I work on are now coming from china, via german manufacturers (box says "Germany" and part is stamped "China:eek:) - the rubber parts (control arms w/ bushings, etc...) stink like a skunk took a dump on them.

Danglerb
10-14-2010, 01:24 PM
Some of my favorite places smell pretty bad. ;)

kc-steve
10-14-2010, 01:31 PM
Some of my favorite places smell pretty bad. ;)

Nawww, smells of "favorite places" are called aromas. :)

Steve

johnnybentwrench
10-14-2010, 01:40 PM
yep, stinks in torrance CA too. also very shitty tools BTW. what is the appeal man:headscrat the place is filled with shit maybe that's why it smells?:bounce:

I am with the guy that says it's the chinese buffet to avoid!

PassnThru
10-14-2010, 02:05 PM
Bunch of whimps, Once you get past the smell you can have a good time

Do I really, really need this? Ah, what the hell. It's only .99 cents.

:thumbup:

I don't think you fully understood mrholeshot on that one - read it again a little slower. Oh wait - you mentioned .99 cents so maybe you do. Yeah - if you're getting it for .99 cents then yeah, it will probably really stink :beer:

Jack Olsen
10-14-2010, 02:29 PM
I think it's more than just the rubber outgassing. I have a hydraulic table with hard casters and I've been keeping it outside because of the smell. I'd guess they use some rust-preventative spray (or grease? or paint?) for the trip over that releases that smell.

It's not really a reason to bash Harbor Freight. Tools aren't known for their sweet fragrances. (I love my Swepco transmission fluid, but that doesn't mean it doesn't stink.)

I just bought a big set of PB Swiss screwdrivers, and the handles smell like vomit. I only noticed because I read about the smell online -- you've got to sniff a screwdriver to detect it -- it was my first and last screwdriver sniffing. So even the 'classy' stuff can carry a smell.

NWphotog
10-14-2010, 02:32 PM
Bunch of whimps, Once you get past the smell you can have a good time

LOL! :beer:

great white tj
10-14-2010, 02:37 PM
Thats the smell of Money............

ajchien
10-14-2010, 03:03 PM
Oh great. Now I have to pay attention to the smell the next time I walk into a HF....

bsaint
10-14-2010, 03:09 PM
I think its plastics and cosmoline.

Bolster
10-14-2010, 03:13 PM
It's not really a reason to bash Harbor Freight. Tools aren't known for their sweet fragrances. (I love my Swepco transmission fluid, but that doesn't mean it doesn't stink.)

I just bought a big set of PB Swiss screwdrivers, and the handles smell like vomit. I only noticed because I read about the smell online -- you've got to sniff a screwdriver to detect it -- it was my first and last screwdriver sniffing. So even the 'classy' stuff can carry a smell.

LOL! Too funny!! You're using an "olfactory equivalence" argument to defend HarF! Your post had me running to my tool box, where I sniffed every screwdriver handle. My wife caught me and said "what the HECK are you doing?" I tried to explain but she left in the middle of my explanation.

So here are my results:

-PB Swiss smell like a hard cheese.
-Wiha insulated smell like honey.
-Williams screwdrivers smell a little like a berry-flavored snowcone.
-Snap-on, a nutty-cheese, or possibly a cheesy nut, with hints of cola.
-Felo wood handles smell predominantly oak, with overtones of hazelnut, coffee, and plumb.
-Craftsman have a somewhat desperate smell.

Taste tests to follow, stay tuned...

bsaint
10-14-2010, 03:15 PM
PB Blaster - now that stuff smells good. But thats a chemical.

Cryptic1911
10-14-2010, 03:36 PM
To quote someone from another thread:

Ummm because its not brand new high quality rubber its a bunch of scrap shoes condoms butt plugs and whatever else they can find melted in to one big ball of toxic shit.

It does stink pretty bad in there, but I read that natural rubber has a nasty odor to it too, so its probably a combo of that and some toxic mold release they use

stricht8
10-14-2010, 04:19 PM
Went in there with my wife this weekend and she commented on the foul odor. Smells like machine oil and body odor.

Yes. Cheap rubber smell. My GF hates going in with me first because she claims it's boring and second because it stinks like rubber.

comedyman809
10-14-2010, 04:26 PM
its the smell of shit tools!

american lockpicker
10-14-2010, 04:27 PM
The True Value, Sears, Do It Best, Lowes, or the smaller mom & pop shops I go to to buy US and EU made tools don't have this problem. :) :thumbup:

Lump
10-14-2010, 04:31 PM
Yes, as someone said earlier, you do get that smell anywhere that lots of Chinese rubber products are sold. But I have been around antique cars all my life, and have opened old red rubber inner tubes which were sealed in old packages long ago. These were "real" rubber, and made great sling shots (unlike modern inner tubes from the 60's onward). They had a "rubber" smell, but nothing like that unique smell of Chinese "rubber" products. I just wonder what that chemical is, that's all.

Bolster
10-14-2010, 04:32 PM
Seriously funny thread on the same topic...

http://www.garagejournal.com/forum/showthread.php?p=951544#post951544

Cheapskate
10-14-2010, 05:19 PM
I no longer notice the smell. Probably because I own so much Harbor Freight stuff my house smells the same way. :lol_hitti

I think it's from the rubber and vinyl products. I picked up a few of these vinyl duffel bags (http://www.harborfreight.com/clearance/23-inch-duffel-bag-46209.html) , they arrived on a 95 degree day and the pungent chemical smell emanating from them literally made me sick. I put them outside and still haven't brought them in. :puke:

Indy_500
10-14-2010, 06:06 PM
the smell is from rubber AND the oilish coating they put on many of their tools.

eborcim
10-14-2010, 06:17 PM
Thats the smell of Money............

I've heard that about animal confinement lagoons too....

sselander
10-14-2010, 07:24 PM
It is a big deal for car companies, and there have been efforts to lower the smell

I have read some good articles in the past.

the wikipedia page on new car smell is succint.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_car_smell

rsieracki
10-14-2010, 07:56 PM
...what is the appeal man:headscrat the place is filled with shit maybe that's why it smells?:bounce:

I am with the guy that says it's the chinese buffet to avoid!

truer words rarely spoken, but i still buy shit there its hard to avoid. i get the cheap rubber gloves for $6 a box less20% when on sale and the cheap brushes for one time use n cleaning stuff. a few other things but nothing where in expecting longevity but i will say some of their stuff aint bad... except for the 4 foot level i bought that wasnt straight but what do i expect for $15

Garage_Mahal
10-14-2010, 08:38 PM
It's the smell of failure, man.

bobadame
10-14-2010, 09:02 PM
I suppose that the time from manufacturing to store delivery is pretty short with the HF stuff and so it is still out gassing. A few years ago I bought a new Geo Metro to commute 130 miles a day. It was in the winter so I had to keep the windows mostly closed. The plastic in that car out gassed and stunk so bad the first few weeks it gave me head aches. The out gassing would coat the inside surface if the windows.

t100
10-14-2010, 09:11 PM
bet you guys never been to chinese supermarket, talk about dead fish smell. every time my wife goes there I always just drop her off at the door, I'd rather go to sears.

pep
10-14-2010, 09:16 PM
On a related matter, I wandered into a Dollar Store to see just what a store that sells $1.00 actually might carry, and was checking out some screwdrivers. The packaging had quite a large warning that you should wash your hands after using them.

Gotta love it. Probably made in the same factory that produced the poison drywall.

Givl Reggin
10-14-2010, 09:28 PM
Ever wish a thread has scratch and sniff, it's this one! There are no Harbor Freights in my neck of the woods.

racer1735
10-14-2010, 09:54 PM
yep. its rubber. Don't have a 'funky' smell to any of the stores I've visited, but it sure smells a LOT like the tire racks in back of the motorcycle parts stores I used to work at.

MartinTech
10-14-2010, 10:00 PM
My HF smells awesome... no touch of funk whatsoever.

You poor bastards.

harryhood
10-14-2010, 10:08 PM
Manager's Response? "Well, I don't know what to tell you then".....and he simply WALKED AWAY!!!

what do you want. a lot of their stuff is pure shit. He knows better than anyone.

MrMark
10-14-2010, 10:20 PM
I heard from my wife's cousin's brother that his neighbor told him that this guy he knew went into a Harbor Freight and the manager told him that there was no smell and the tools were just as good as Snap-on, which breaks all the time as posted on Facebook by at least one Matco Dealer.

dankicksass
10-14-2010, 10:25 PM
The only time I went to HF, I took my father with me and the whole way back he wouldn't stop talking about the smell. I didn't get anything plastic so it didn't come home with me.

Zach90Turbo
10-14-2010, 10:27 PM
Perhaps "let me check with another store and see if they have one in stock", or "let me check with the warehouse and see if they have another one that isn't defective"

His attitude effectively gave me a map to Panama City Beach, and instructions on what to do with the sand once I arrived there....

So you bought bargain tools, then complained about the quality of the case. I'd be prone to tell somebody to pound sand if they complained about the packaging, too.



The HF smell just reminds me of opening new Ninja Turtle action figures as a kid. Probably explains the subconscious desire to return every couple of months.

Miter Wrench
10-14-2010, 10:28 PM
My HF smells like bargains and cheap but sometimes reliable tools and stacks and stacks of clipped 20% coupons from every magazine and newspaper and overcrowded checkout lines with not enough cashiers all rolled into one addictive Saturday afternoon odor. I enter at my own risk and exit with a bag full of stuff with that same odor. Usually by the time the ink disappears on the receipt, the smell goes away.

ADaughen
10-14-2010, 10:37 PM
Both of mine smell like vulcanized rubber.

It tends to keep the women away so I can buy more tools. :thumbup:

c39er
10-14-2010, 10:40 PM
I think the smell is from the deadly Chinese chemicals used to kill all the rodents and bugs in the shipping containers that all the garbage freight stuff is shipped in.. It saturates all the packaging and products inside of the packaging. What are these chemicals doing to the patrons of Horror Freight? I have seen a few guys walking in with walkers and oxygen masks! I go there once a year to buy 2" cutoff wheels after seeing my accountant.

Scout Driver
10-14-2010, 10:56 PM
My HF smells like bargains and cheap but sometimes reliable tools and stacks and stacks of clipped 20% coupons from every magazine and newspaper and overcrowded checkout lines with not enough cashiers all rolled into one addictive Saturday afternoon odor. I enter at my own risk and exit with a bag full of stuff with that same odor. Usually by the time the ink disappears on the receipt, the smell goes away.

My Harbor Freight is just like yours. :)

Scott

dlc
10-14-2010, 11:43 PM
If rubber smell bothers you, whatever you do...don't buy these. I kept them in my shed outdoors for 6 months before the smell was bearable:

http://www.harborfreight.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/370x/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/i/m/image_2876.jpg

american lockpicker
10-14-2010, 11:46 PM
If rubber smell bothers you, whatever you do...don't buy these. I kept them in my shed outdoors for 6 months before the smell was bearable:

http://www.harborfreight.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/370x/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/i/m/image_2876.jpg

The english made ones have no smell and are cheap...

rhastings80
10-15-2010, 09:39 AM
I wonder if part of it is some kind of anti rust stuff like cosmoline. I also think it kind of smells like some of my Xcelite nut drivers that I think off gass butyric acid. I also found the Rubber Wheel Chock's at HF smell really bad.

pep
10-15-2010, 09:50 AM
I think the smell is from the deadly Chinese chemicals used to kill all the rodents and bugs in the shipping containers that all the garbage freight stuff is shipped in.. It saturates all the packaging and products inside of the packaging. What are these chemicals doing to the patrons of Horror Freight.

The Chinese are just doing their part.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1320507/Cancer-purely-man-say-scientists-finding-trace-disease-Egyptian-mummies.html

Andy Griffith
10-15-2010, 03:29 PM
If you want to get the full smell effect go take a whiff of a rubber wheel in HF. You'll get the smell full on.
Oh yeah, or better yet buy one of those garden wagon deals with the four pneumatic rubber tires that comes enclosed in a box. Unbelievable strong smell from those Chinese rubbers when you open that box.

dlc
10-15-2010, 03:46 PM
Unbelievable strong smell from those Chinese rubbers

Maybe that's why they have over 1.3 billion people :lol_hitti

knobby
10-15-2010, 06:39 PM
For the Canadians that feel left out Princess Auto stores smell the same. I thank God that I don't work there.

rayzor32
10-15-2010, 07:10 PM
Mine dont have a smell

jay50
10-15-2010, 07:50 PM
smell reminds me of skanky women i once knew.

rickey1013
10-15-2010, 08:05 PM
Newark, CA - smells
Modesto, CA - smells
Santa Rosa, CA - smells
Going to go to Pleasant hill next but my guess is smells......

Danglerb
10-15-2010, 08:07 PM
What it is is FRESH rubber products, same as a tire store, and for the same reason, they sell a lot of product so new stuff is always arriving.

Just because something stinks doesn't mean it doesn't stink in an interesting way, as in, "Dude this really stinks", "Oh yeah, let me smell it".

I'm slowly getting so I like the sulfur smell from gear oil.

spartyon8
10-15-2010, 08:12 PM
I'm slowly getting so I like the sulfur smell from gear oil.

Ain't nothing better than the smell of burnt gear oil. mmmmmmmmmm!

Kenwc
10-15-2010, 08:43 PM
The stank of HF reminds me of that stank that a set of my Craftsman screwdriver handles have had since I bought them years ago.

premierplayer
10-15-2010, 09:09 PM
Sears is begining to smell the same :(