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Don’t allow your vehicle’s value to go up in smoke says HPI

Don’t allow your vehicle’s value to go up in smoke says HPI

Leading vehicle data and valuation specialist HPI has issued a warning to motorists over how smoking can seriously damage their car’s health, estimating that a car driven by a heavy smoker could easily lose up to £2,000 at trade-in.

It became illegal to smoke in cars and all other vehicles with any passengers under the age of 18. The law was changed to protect children and young people from the dangers of secondhand smoke. Both the driver and the smoker could be fined £50. In the UK lung cancer kills more people than any other form of the disease and accounts for 21 per cent of all cancer deaths, 35,600 people a year or almost 100 a day.

Smoking is the biggest single factor that can increase a person’s chances of getting cancer and while smoking rates have been falling, many long-term smokers have already increased their risk – particularly in poorer areas of the UK.

Commenting on how smoking in cars can drag down the resale price of a vehicle, Fernando Garcia, consumer director at HPI said: “Smoking is not only bad news for health but also for our finances. Smoking in cars is very bad news as far as vehicle resale health is concerned. 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.

Added Fernando Garcia: “In the majority of cases, there is often no obvious damage however, 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 specialist tools to clean the air conditioning. Many of the tobacco smoke pollutants from cigarettes 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 up 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 thousands of pounds depending on the extent of the smell and the type of vehicle.

Adding to the list of costs which drag the resale price down include repairing any marks, stains and cigarette burns to dash and upholstery.

Concluded Fernando Garcia: “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.”

HPI offers a free vehicle valuations service giving consumers the ability to buy and sell cars with utmost confidence, offering them the inside view on the total cost of ownership of a vehicle during its lifespan along with precise depreciation figures.

The valuations tool at is aimed at consumers buying and selling cars in the used car market and minimises the risks that can see them paying over the odds or not getting the best asking price.

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