Smoking damages car valuation as well as health


Written by: Aidan Cook

Smoking in cars with children present is set to be banned across the UK later this year, with the prospect of fines for those people that endanger children’s health in this way. As the proportion of adults that smoke drops toward one in five, we thought we’d have a look at what car cost  the smoking motorist might not be aware of.

Smokers are often told to imagine the amount of money their habit costs them as an incentive to give up. As the price of a packet of twenty cigarettes approaches the £10 mark many smokers might well imagine what they would do with the money they could save. But what are the additional costs for the smoking car owner, beyond the obvious toll on their health?

Smoking and car valuation – the extra equipment costs

The days when every car would have a cigarette (or cigar) lighter as standard equipment are long gone, and many manufacturers now offer this as an additional extra to the standard price of a car. Obviously the cost of this extra varies depending on the car; you’d need to cough up £40 on a Volkswagen Passat compared to an eye-watering £480 for the same piece of kit in a new Ferrari F12. Curiously there is a consistency in the proportion of purchase price, with both VW and Ferrari’s smokers’ kits coming in at approximately 0.2% of the new car’s cost.

The big car cost comes from car condition

There is also the effect that smoking may have on the value of your car. A vehicle that is free from contamination by smoke may well prove more attractive to a potential buyer or dealer. If you sell your car privately, there are going to be some buyers that will simply walk away from a vehicle that smells of smoke. Any ash stains or burns on the car interior could also prove disproportionately costly.

For example, if you were selling a three year old Vauxhall Astra Hatchback that has done 60,000 miles, you might be lucky enough to get a car valuation of £5,925 for a good condition car in a private sale. But if you had to trade-in the car with an interior that needed a good clean, you might get a valuation £1800 lower – an amount that would have probably covered your insurance for the life of the car.

Other car costs – due care and attention

It was only when I was half way through writing this that I remembered that twenty years ago I was in a car crash caused by smoking. The driver giving me a lift reached across the car to get a lighter from the glove compartment, and slammed straight into a parked car. Thankfully nobody was hurt but the impact was enough to write off her vehicle. It was an expensive cigarette for her, with the insurer’s car valuation of her aging Mini Metro amounting to little more than the cost of the lighter itself.

While smoking in private cars is not yet illegal, if you are smoking when an accident occurs then you are open to the charge of Driving Without Due Care and Attention. Accidents happen for all sorts of reasons, but when you think about it having a small fire in your hand while in control of a car is asking for trouble.

So, if you smoke or know a motorist that smokes, then perhaps you might want to share this post with them and point out the potential impact of their habit not only on their car valuation but also on their life.