According to Cap HPI, smoking in your car could cut its market value by up to £2,000. The smell of smoke can drive non-smokers to stay well away from a smoker’s car. This means that demand for these cars is lower, so the price drops. But buying a smoker’s car could be a good way to save a fair bit of money - if you’re willing to put in a bit of time to clean it.
While there’s no guarantee that a cigarette smell will ever completely disappear, you can at least reduce or disguise the smell.
What can I do?
Take the car to a valet for a cleaning. It could cost you £150-£200, but it will be cleaned to a professional standard. And if you already saved thousands on the car, £200 isn’t a huge outlay.
If the smell is particularly strong, you could also get the air filter replaced. Again, this isn’t the cheapest option but could be worth it if the car was a good price.
A ‘smoke bomb’ is another effective way to get rid of any cigarette smells from a car. Smoke bombs essentially fog out the smell from wherever it can get to. They can be pretty cheap and easy to use - but you might need to do it more than once. You can also get these done professionally if you'd rather not do it yourself.
If you don’t want to take your car to a valet, you could clean it yourself at home. Vacuuming the surfaces and shampooing any upholstery would be a good start to getting rid of the cigarette smell. Using scented anti-bacterial wipes on the steering wheel and dashboard can help get rid of any residue on hard surfaces. You could also try sprinkling baking soda on the fabrics to absorb the smell, then vacuum it up a few hours later.
Other tips include regularly spraying air freshener and leaving the car to air out with the windows open. There might also be merit to putting newspaper, chunks of coal, or ground coffee in the footwells (yes, seriously) to absorb the smell.
Could it affect my health?
You’ve heard of second-hand smoking, but what about third-hand? Third-hand smoke is when any residue of cigarette smoking sticks to surfaces - like the fabric and carpet in your car. It’s actually been found that third-hand smoke can linger in these surfaces for as long as six months. The long-term health effects of third-hand smoke exposure - or exactly how well they can be cleaned - aren’t completely clear, but you should definitely bear it in mind when buying your next car.
So, is it worth it?
Ultimately, it depends on how bad the smoke damage and smell is - and whether or not you can put up with it. If you’re sensitive to the smell, regularly drive with children, or just don’t want the hassle of cleaning - avoid a smoker’s car. There's no guarantee that the smell will go completely. But if you’re happy to deal with it, or aren't sensitive to smoke smells, you could potentially save thousands on your next car.
ChooseMyCar Staff Writer
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