You would think that smoking in loaner cars would be a black and white subject, in the sense that there probably isn’t a car dealer out there that allows customers to smoke in their rentals.
It seems that it all started after December 2018, when the state of Michigan legalized the use of marijuana. Ever since, a multitude of metro Detroit car dealers say that the vehicles they rent out and service have started to smell like rolling ashtrays or worse.
The main problem is apparently related to the increased use of the recreational drug, which leaves a poignant smell that is harder to be removed from the cars.
“My rental car coordinator said to a customer, ‘You can’t smoke pot in the car.’ The customer said, ‘I can smoke it, weed is legal.’ My rental car coordinator said, ‘Well, so is drinking, but you can’t drink and drive,’ ” said Paul Zimmermann, vice president and partner at Matick Automotive, a rental car dealer with a fleet of 244 vehicles in Detroit.
Pot smell is as difficult to get out as cigarette smoke and it can sometimes render a dealer’s loaner car completely unusable. Trade-in car’s values are obviously also diminished if their interiors smell like a college dorm room.
Most used car and rental car dealers now impose an extra contract on customers where they have to agree not to smoke or vape in a loaner car or they will face a cleaning fee that can go up to $250.
Many say that if it continues like this, they will need to choose between increasing their no-smoking fines or increase their margins substantially in order to cover the climbing cleaning expenses.