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Towing, smoking in, or transporting young children and pets can reduce a used car’s value by more than 15 per cent, study finds

  • Buyers less likely to consider vehicles that have been smoked in, used for towing, or transporting pets and children
  • What Car? finds that smoking seen as the worst characteristic among used car buyers
  • 84.8 per cent of motorists expecting to pay less for a car that has been smoked in

Time 8:13 am, July 13, 2022

Towing, smoking in, or transporting young children and pets can reduce a used car’s value by more than 15 per cent, a new study has shown.

A survey of almost 2,700 motorists by What Car? found that 85.6 per cent of used buyers would be less likely to consider a vehicle that had been smoked in over an otherwise identical model.

Meanwhile 60.68 per cent said they would be less likely to consider a model that had been used for towing, and 47.57 per cent would avoid models that had had pets in them.


Elsewhere it was also found that 16.8 per cent of respondents would avoid models previously owned by families with young children.

The data also showed that having any of those characteristics can have a knock-on effect on the value of a used car.

Smoking was the biggest problems for used buyers, with 84.8 per cent of those asked saying they expect to pay less for cars that had been smoked in.

More than four in ten (40.57 per cent) said they would expect to see the list price reduced by 15 per cent or more compared to one which hadn’t been smoked in.


More than a quarter (27.36 per cent) said they would expect to pay between five and ten per cent less for a vehicle that had been smoked in and 21.23 per cent said they would pay between ten and 15 per cent less.

When it came to pet ownership, 64.65 per cent expected to pay less for a car that had been used to carry animals.

When asked how much less they would expect to pay for a vehicle that had transported pets, 37.59 per cent of buyers said they would expect a cut of between five and ten per cent. A further 26.32 per cent expected to pay between zero and five per cent less.

Under a fifth (18.05 per cent) said that they would expect to see the list price reduced by 15 per cent or more.

Buyers were slightly more tolerant of young children and towing, with 62.62 per cent expecting to pay less for a car had been used for towing, and 42 per cent expecting to pay less for a car that had transported young children.

Steve Huntingford, editor at What Car?, said: ‘Mileage, service history and overall condition are usually the big factors that determine a used car’s price, but as our research shows, habits of previous owners can have a significant impact on the perceived value of a used car.’

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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