Smoking in your car can “easily” reduce its resale value by as much as £2,000, a vehicle valuation expert has said.

Fernando Garcia, the consumer director of leading vehicle data and valuation specialist HPI, said smoking in a vehicle can cause physical damage to the interior, as well as leaving a smell. However, HPI says smokers are often either unaware of the smell, or under the impression that air freshener will solve it.

“Smoking is not only bad news for health but also for our finances,” said Garcia. “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.

Man driving while holding a cigarette in hand

“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.”

Smoker is holding cigarette out car window

The firm says cleaning up a smoker’s car can cost up to £150, and comes with “no guarantee” that the cabin will “smell sufficiently fresh”. And cleaning a car won’t always repair damage caused by marks, stains and cigarette burns. In severe cases, the company claims the only way to get rid of the smell and damage is to strip out the interior - a process that can cost hundreds or even thousands of pounds.

Man smoking cigarette while sitting in car

“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,” continued Garcia. “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.”