Why smoking can seriously damage your car’s resale health

Any smokers needing further incentive to quit should be aware that their habit will drag down the value of their vehicle – by up to £2,000.

“The first thing a car dealer will do when looking at a car being sold by a smoker is to knock down the part-exchange price,” Philip Nothard, Retail & Consumer Editor at used car valuation experts CAP-HPI, said. “That’s simply down to the fact that a trade-in vehicle has to be made fit for re-sale, 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 oblivious to or think can be resolved with an air freshener.

“In the majority of cases,” Philip Nothard added, “there is often no obvious damage.However, the smell of smoke is a major problem for motor dealers. It becomes ingrained in the fabric of the car and climate control, requiring a professional valet and a special ‘bomb’ to clean the air-conditioning system.

“What many people don’t realise is that when tobacco is smoked in the enclosed environment of a car, air concentrations of tobacco smoke pollutants can become extremely high. Many of these pollutants attach to surfaces and build up in the internal systems from where they can be released back into the air over days and weeks after smoking. Opening the windows to let the smoke out is not the answer.”

Cleaning the car can cost anything up to £150 and is still no guarantee that the vehicle will smell sufficiently fresh. In severe cases, the internal fabric and head cloth may have to be stripped out too – a process which can run into hundreds or even thousands of pounds depending on the extent of the smell and the type of vehicle.

The list of costs which drag the re-sale price down also includes repairing any marks, stains and cigarette burns to dash and upholstery, and a car driven by a heavy smoker could easily lose up to £2,000 at trade-in.