How smoking can drag down the value of your car

14th November 2019

Automotive data experts at HPI are warning motorists of the damage smoking can do to their car’s health, estimating that a car driven by a heavy smoker could lose up to £2,000 at trade-in.

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.

“Smoking in cars is bad news as far as re-sale health is concerned,” HPI’s Consumer Director Fernando Garcia explained.“The first thing a car dealer will do when looking at a car being sold by a smoker is knock down the price of the part-exchange. It 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.”

Cleaning up the car can cost anything up to £150 and there 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.

“There is often no obvious visual damage,” Fernando Garcia added, “but the smell of smoke is a major problem for motor dealers. Smoke becomes ingrained in the fabric of the car and climate control system, requiring a professional valet and a specialist tools to clean the air conditioning.

“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.”

Repairing any marks, stains and cigarette burns to the dashboard and upholstery add to the list of costs which drag the re-sale price down.

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