How smoking affects the value of your car

Smoking in a car could cost you up to £2,000 at trade-in, warns a vehicle valuation specialist. And smoking with children in the car is illegal.

No smoking sign

Everyone knows smoking is bad for your health. But when it comes to cars, it’s also bad for your wealth. A heavy smoker may lose up to £2,000 when they part-exchange a car at a dealer.

This is according to vehicle data specialist HPI, which says dealers take a dim view of smoke-soiled cars. The smell is one problem, but cigarette ash can cause damage to the seat upholstery and trim.

Fernando Garcia, consumer director at HPI, said: “The first thing a car dealer will do when looking at a car being sold by a smoker is to knock down the price of the part-exchange.

“That’s simply down to the fact that a car for part-ex has to be made fit for resale and this becomes considerably more difficult and expensive when that car was previously driven by a smoker.

“The two main impacts smoking has on a vehicle are physical damage to the interior and smell, something many smokers are often unaware of – or think can be resolved by using an air freshener.“

Resale values up in smoke

dirty car interior

Cleaning a car owned by a smoker can cost anything up to £150, but in severe cases, the internal fabric and headlining may need to be removed. This can cost hundreds or thousands of pounds, depending on the smell and type of vehicle.

Repairing any marks, stains or burns will add to the cost, reducing the resale value still further.

Garcia added: “Some dealers tell us they won’t even buy cars from smokers because of the time and expense of cleaning up a car and removing unpleasant smells. 

“Unless consumers want to see the residual value of their vehicles literally go up in smoke, I’d urge them to try to quit or at the very least refrain from smoking inside the car when driving.”

Smoking in a vehicle: the law

smoking in a car with a child

It has been illegal to smoke in a vehicle with anyone under the age of 18 since 2015, with the law introduced in England and Wales to protect young people from the dangers of second-hand smoke.

Both the driver and the smoker could be fined £50, and the law applies even if somebody is sat in the open doorway of a vehicle.

The law does not apply to e-cigarettes, a driver aged 17 if they are alone in the car, or a convertible with the roof completely down.


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Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Writer with a penchant for #FrenchTat. Also doing a passable impression of Cousin Eddie in an Italian-German beige motorhome.


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