We all know that smoking is bad for your health, but when it comes to motoring, it’s also bad for your wealth. A heavy smoker could find that they’ll lose up to £2,000 when part-exchanging their car at a dealer.
This is according to vehicle data and valuation specialist HPI, which says dealers take a dim view of cars owned by smokers. The smell is one problem, but cigarette ash can cause physical damage to the seat upholstery and fabrics.
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 going up in smoke
HPI says 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 only 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. Everyone knows that smoking is bad for our health but few people realise that it can also have a surprisingly nasty impact on car values too.
“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
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 secondhand 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.