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Blog: Burning issue of car values going down in smoke

14:11 01 November 2015

Smoking in a car can wipe hundred of pounds off its value.

Smoking in a car can wipe hundred of pounds off its value.

PA Wire/Press Association Images

With smoking banned in enclosed public spaces, shared work vehicles and now cars carrying children, motoring editor Andy Russell questions whether it is safe to drag and drive.

Smoking nearly seriously damaged my health or rather a flying fag end did.

I was riding a motorcycle behind a car when the driver flicked a cigarette end out of the window. It was only going to go one way – backwards – and I’m just glad I had the visor down on my helmet as it saved it hitting me directly in the face.

It’s not just selfish, irresponsible littering but positively dangerous.

It reminded me how my father was driving along a country A-road on a hot summer day with his sunroof and windows open – the Eighties version of air-conditioning – when he became aware of a hot-spot on his back. Pulling over, he found a still burning cigarette end trapped between his back and the car seat, resulting in a hole in his shirt and the car upholstery and a small burn on his back.

What made it ironic was that this was a new car and he had decided not to smoke in it to keep it ash and burn-free!

I applaud the new law which this month banned smoking in vehicles carrying children but, with smoking already banned in all enclosed public places, workplaces and any any work vehicle used by more than one person – such as taxis, buses, vans, company cars and goods vehicles – perhaps it should just be a blanket ban on smoking in vehicles.

In the days when I smoked, I never did so in a car because not only is having a lighted item that can easily be dropped a dangerous practice but it can also cost you dear when you come to sell your car when it stinks like a used ashtray.

It’s also been highlighted by motor industry valuation specialist CAP which says any smokers needing another reason to quit should also be aware of the damage their habit can do to vehicle values.

Philip Nothard, retail and consumer editor of the CAP Black Book, said: “If you’re a smoker, the first thing a dealer will do is knock back the price of your part-exchange. That’s because a car for part-ex has to be made fit for resale – a process which is considerably more difficult and expensive when that car was previously driven by a smoker.”

Here’s a couple of examples from CAP showing how it can knock hundreds of your car:

Ford Mondeo, 2011 11 registration, 50,000 miles

Non-smoking car £6,600

Smoking-in car £6,175

Loss £425

Mercedes-Benz E-Class, 2012 61 registration, 40,000 miles

Non-smoking car £12,650

Smoked-in car £11,950

Loss £700

The two main issues are physical damage to the interior and smell – something many smokers either don’t notice or think is solved by using an air freshener.

But smoke becomes ingrained in the fabric of the car and climate control, requiring a professional valet and a special ‘bomb’ to clean the air conditioning. It can cost up to £150 but 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 cost hundreds of pounds.”

Add on the cost of 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 – and that’s if they want it in the first place.

“Some dealers tell us they won’t even buy vehicles from smokers, because of the time and expense of getting the car properly clean and free of lingering smells,” he said.

So not only is smoking bad for your health but it’s also harmful to your wallet.

Should smoking while driving be banned altogether? Tell us what you think – email


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