Smoking in your car can stub out £2,000 from its value

Heavy financial losses for smokers, while 87% say they’d refuse to buy a car that’s been smoked in

People who smoke in their cars run the risk of losing thousands of pounds when they come to sell or trade in, research has revealed.

A survey run by Carbuyer asked consumers if they’d buy a used car that’d been smoked in. Of the 6,000 people who responded, 87% said they wouldn’t.

Those findings are echoed by the automotive data specialists at cap-hpi, who estimate that once potential smells, stains and burn marks had been taken into account, a car driven by a heavy smoker could easily lose up to £2,000. With over 30 million cars and roughly 7.6 million smokers in the UK, the total cost to the nation of smoked-in cars could be as high as £9.6 billion.

Carbuyer’s editor, Stuart Milne, said the solution to the problem is a simple one: "With the cost of smoking increasing all the time, lighting up in your car is yet another hidden expense. Not only does our research show that a car that's been smoked in will be harder to sell on, but it could also cost you thousands.

"Bearing this in mind, it's far better to pull over and get out before you light up."

James Dower, Black Book editor at cap-hpi, told us: “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.” Dower continued, explaining: "some dealers tell us they won’t even buy cars from smokers because of the time and expense of ridding the interior of unpleasant odours.”

Dower added that once potential smells, stains and burn marks had been taken into account, “a car driven by a heavy smoker could easily lose up to £2,000 at trade-in.”

And getting rid of the after-effects of smoking isn’t just a matter of opening the windows and letting the car air. Because stale smoke becomes ingrained in a car’s upholstery, in some cases it’s necessary to replace the headliner, while in others a special “bomb” is required to purge the air-conditioning system. Even if such drastic treatments aren’t required, a straightforward clean to get rid of the smell can cost £150.

Adam Eaton, detailing manager at paint protection and car maintenance experts Gtechniq, told us: “There are lots of products on the market that claim to remove [the effects of smoke], but these are often not effective.” Gtechniq recommends steam cleaning, antibacterial treatments and wet vacuuming, but Eaton warned dealing with smoked-in cars was a “thorough” process.

Although smokers are something of a dying breed, roughly 16% of the UK’s adult population has yet to kick the habit.

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