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How to write a good used car advertisement

minute read

    If you’re looking to sell your car through a private sale, you’ll likely need to advertise it somewhere. For some, however, the thought of having to sit down and write an ad might fill them with dread. If you happen to fall into that group, don’t worry. Learning how to write a good used car ad is kind of like learning to drive — it's a little intimidating at first, but once you get the basics down, you realize it’s not as daunting as it may have seemed. Here are a few things that can be helpful when trying to figure out how to write a good used car ad:

    • Keeping it relevant
    • Being honest
    • Providing records
    • Being clear about price and payment
    • Taking high-quality photos

    Keeping it relevant

    It helps to keep your listing relevant by providing important details like the car’s make, model, year, mileage, body style and any trim upgrades it may have, as well as your asking price. These details should be listed early on, as opposed to being buried in a mountain of copy. You may even consider including a few of these details in your headline. This helps buyers find what they’re looking for right away.

    Being honest

    One of the things buyers sometimes complain about when looking through examples of used car ads is the fact that owners tend to embellish the truth, trying to make a used car sound like it’s practically new. Even if it really was excellently maintained, it’s still a used car — a little bit of wear and tear is expected. The buyer will likely have the car checked by their own mechanic, at which point major defects will be revealed anyway.

    Being honest and upfront about the car may help your listing seem more trustworthy. If you have a vehicle history report you can share, it helps to mention that in the ad. This gives buyers more confidence that you aren’t hiding some major defect. It additionally lets them know you’ve tried to be objective about the vehicle’s value. That latter point is especially important, as it potentially leaves them less room to negotiate the price downwards.

    Providing records

    Alongside a vehicle history report, it may also be beneficial to provide maintenance and servicing records to prospective buyers. If you’ve got all or most of your car’s service records, mention that in your ad. This helps reassure buyers that your car has been properly maintained and is likely in decent condition.

    Being clear about price and payment

    When it comes to money, details matter. When discussing the asking price in your used car ad, it’s best to indicate how much room there is to negotiate, if any. You may have seen other used car examples with an “OBO” next to the price. This stands for “or best offer,” which offers a potentially tempting proposition for buyers looking to negotiate, but could also mean having to be quite flexible on what you’re willing to accept. If you don’t have that kind of wiggle room in what you’re asking for, it’s better to indicate that clearly.

    It may also be beneficial to indicate how you’d like to receive payment. Most private sales are typically cash but some buyers may try to offer a check, a wire transfer or some other form of payment. There may be times when this is to your advantage. If you’re willing to accept any of these alternative forms of payment, it may help attract additional buyers to your ad. Of course, non-cash transactions may come with their own set of risks. Either way, it’s best to be clear about what you’ll take so you can avoid confusion toward the end of the transaction.

    Taking high-quality photos

    It may seem a little odd to have a section on photography included in a guide about how to write a good car ad, but a picture really can be worth a thousand words. Including high-quality photos of your car literally gives buyers a chance to see it for themselves and imagine potentially owning it.

    In order to present the car in the best way possible, it helps to thoroughly clean the interior and exterior of the car before photographing. You might also consider taking the vehicle somewhere with an appealing backdrop. This doesn’t have to be anything special; an empty parking lot with a decent view behind it would work just fine. Photos are meant to help show the vehicle’s condition accurately and should be taken up close, so they can assist with that goal. Try your best to get multiple shots of the car’s exterior and interior from several angles.

    If you feel your photography skills aren’t quite up to par, you could try enlisting the help of a friend or family member. Alternatively, you could go the professional route and hire a car photographer who specializes in this kind of thing. Bear in mind, however, that this additional cost could eat into any potential profits from selling the car.

    Other considerations

    Once you’ve got your ad written out and taken lots of high-quality photographs, it’s time to post it online. There are various places where you can do this, from dedicated auto-selling websites to social media groups that might help you find more local buyers.

    Keeping all listings consistent

    When putting out listings in multiple places, it helps to keep things consistent across all versions. It may be best to write it out in a separate document first, so you can simply copy and paste the same text across all the sites you’re thinking of advertising on.

    Protecting yourself online

    The internet is a great place to advertise, but you need to stay safe and avoid scammers too. It’s okay to put down your first name in your ad, but it may be better to avoid giving your full name. You may also want to consider creating a separate email account for this sale. This can further protect your privacy, with the added benefit of not having your regular inbox flooded with inquiries.

    In summary

    Knowing how to write a good used car ad is a useful skill that could help you save time when trying to sell your car. The key to success is keeping your text relevant to your car and being honest about its features and any flaws. Taking quality photos can also help boost your listing’s effectiveness, as can providing maintenance records or a vehicle history report.

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