Plan Insurance Blog

The Unpleasant Habits That Reduce Car Values

Even while used cars are like gold dust a ‘What Car?’ survey has reported that a huge unspoken factor is the previous owners’ personal habits and lifestyle choices, and that these can ultimately reduce a car’s value when it comes to resale.

When our motor trade insurance clients determine the price of a used car, the first things they consider are no doubt mileage, service history and the car’s overall condition. However, research shows that personal habits pay a major role in how much consumers are willing to pay.

‘What Car?’ Surveyed 2,700 motorists, the questionnaire had several interesting outcomes. Some of these preferences are universal, others are down to personal preference. The worst habit of all? Smoking!

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Can smoking in your car affect the value?

85% of potential buyers would be less likely to purchase a vehicle owned by a smoker. This won’t come as a surprise to non-smoking readers than aren’t fond of the way the smell sticks to upholstery.

However, it is more than likely that motorists would smoke out of the window. In this case, the smell probably wouldn’t stick. However, the aversion to the smell or presence of previous smoke in the car will differ between individuals.

  • More than four in ten people surveyed said they would expect to see the price reduced by at least 15% if the previous owner had smoked in the vehicle.
  • Over 25% of people asked said that they would expect to pay 5% and 10% less for a vehicle that had been regularly smoked in.
  • 21% said they would expect to pay between 10% and 15% less.

The results are in. People don’t want to buy cars that other people have smoked in. If they do, they’ll expect a seriously reduced price tag.

Does transporting certain pets effect your car’s value?

Unsurprisingly, 47% of the 2,700 motorists asked would avoid models that regularly transported pets in them. More than likely, this would depend on different factors like how clean the owners were and (most importantly) what kind of pets the seller had.

I would confidently put rodents and birds at the very bottom of the list of acceptable pets. For some people, even sharing the same space that a guinea pig once sat is grounds for rejecting any car.

  • 38% of buyers said they would expect a reduction of between 5% and 10% if a critter, canine or feline were a former passenger of their future car.
  • 26% expected to pay around 5% less for a vehicle with a pet.
  • 18% of people said that they would expect to see the list price reduced by at least 15%.

Can towing objects with your car cause problems?

61% of people asked said they would be less likely to consider a model that had been used for towing. This is because the car’s engine may have been under stress pulling along a boat, caravan or trailer for miles. The suspension may have been affected, especially if the car towed large objects or vehicles regularly.

If a buyer is looking for a car capable of towing, they will have to weigh the price of installing a tow bar car with the possible wear-and-tear on the car’s condition as a result of towing in the past. Many feel like towing puts an ‘unwritten’ negative strain on a vehicle, outside of what MOTs and mileage would indicate.

  • 63% of survey participants expected to pay less for a car that had been used for towing.

And lastly, how do children factor into a car’s value?

This is a surprise, as I would assume that previous owners having young children would only be unacceptable if they hadn’t properly cleaned the car. Apparently, this is not true.

  • 16.8% of potential buyers would totally avoid cars previously owned by families with young children. Perhaps the risk of finding sweet wrappers or discarded treats is too much for some?
  • 42% of those asked expected to pay less for a car that had carried young children in the past.

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