pew!We call it The Red Devil — a 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee V-8 I bought online earlier this year mainly to pull a trailer filled with airplane parts. But perhaps we should have named it Stinky, because that’s what this column is all about. When buying something on the Internet, how can you make sure it doesn’t smell terrible?

You can’t.

I should have known. The price was too low, the pictures too good, but the seller had sold hundreds of cars online and boasted a 100 percent satisfaction rating. So did I, but my 82 transactions had taken 13 years to accumulate.

When the car arrived it looked great but it smalled like a thousand mice had been camping in the back. No make that 2000 mice. The seller maintained that it smelled great when they put it on the truck headed west. “We treated it with the ozone machine just to be sure,” he said. That meant nothing to me at the time but it means plenty to me now.

Ozone is used to treat intense odors in vehicles and homes. A $1000 ozone machine and fresh sheets can turn a smoking hotel room into a non-smoking room in an hour. Use a big enough ozone machine and use it long enough and it can kill outright things like mold, mildew and bacteria. But you don’t use an ozone machine without a reason which told me the seller probably knew the car was stinky and hoped ozone would do the job.

I know now that ozone will take a away the mouse smell until the next warm day. So will wintergreen oil, by the way (mice hate wintergreen oil — us it to repel them). So will Oust Extra Strength. But once the sun comes out and the car gets warm, the mice inevitably reassert their will. Two thousand mice will not be denied. No, make that 3000.

I got nowhere with the seller. Yes, we both had 100 percent ratings at risk but he was the sales professional and I wasn’t. He chewed me up and I was on my own. In this case Mutual Assured Destruction of 100 percent ratings worked to his advantage. Keep that in mind for the future: all is not always as it seems.

It would be great if there was a technical way to get around this problem, to add some olfactory component to the original ad. I’d want a 1-10 rating for odor. And it turns out there is technology for this with people actually building electronic noses. But they are even more expensive than ozone machines and can temporarily be fooled by the latter.

The only real answer was to remove the seats and replace the carpet and padding — a thankless job that I farmed out to a local car upholstery guy who charged me several hundred dollars, making the Red Devil less of a bargain and more of a devil than I’d hoped for.

There are times when buying things on the Internet isn’t the best way to go no matter how low the price.