Creating the perfect private car advertisement

Selling Guides

You’ve decided to sell and you want a quick result, writes Ray Castle of But – take it slow. Because time taken over your advertisement now will be more than repaid further along the road.

The fact is that your car will sit, inevitably, beside others, each competing for buyers’ cash. So the challenge is to make yours stand out from the pack by looking just that little more attractive and compelling. How can you make sure that happens? Simple.

Follow our guide here and we guarantee that yours will look better than most. Here’s what you should do:

Price it right

Look on for cars that are exactly like, or as close to, your own. If you want a quick result you’ll need to advertise yours a little more cheaply. But if there’s no rush, you can ask a little more. But, even if yours is in exceptional condition and has very low miles, don’t ask the moon for it. There’s a price for every car dependent on its age and type.

Don’t be greedy

Remember, too, that dealers can charge more for their cars because there is (usually) some form of warranty included in the price – so don’t pitch yours to match theirs. But don’t go too low because you should include a margin to allow for bargaining over the price.

Take time over photos

You don’t need special skills to take great car photos – just get the basics right. That means your car must be clean inside and out. If you can’t find an attractive backdrop – say, the local park or riverside – park it next to a plain wall or fence.

Always take in daylight (flash photography in the dark never looks good). Strong sunlight isn’t ideal because of glare so try for a bright but hazy day. Use the best camera you can: mobile phones are rarely up to the job. Take plenty of shots: front, back, sides of the body, cabin front and back, in the boot and under the bonnet. If the car has alloy wheels and they’re in good shape, take a snap of each. Make sure your photos are well lit and sharp. Discard any that aren’t.

Upload as many as you can to your advert ( online advertising allows up to 10 photos). Keep a set ready to email to interested buyers but make sure that you reduce them to keep file sizes manageable.

Words matter

Describe what you’re selling accurately and fully. State the make, exact model, engine size and type, year of registration, reg letter, mileage, number of owners, colour, whether it has service history and/or other garage receipts. If it has extras, add them in. Important equipment items such as leather seats or air conditioning are worth including, too. Mention how long it is until the next MoT test is due and whether any road tax comes with the car. Include your name and mobile and landline numbers.

Stick with the facts

Don’t get all flowery and use phases like ‘fantastic car’ or ‘first to see will buy.’ If your car really is that good, the pictures and your description should tell the story well enough.

But be honest, too. You’re selling second-hand goods so no buyer should expect perfection. If the car has a dent, scrape or missing trim, you’ll do yourself no favours by hiding it. Unless the car is very old or cheap, it will probably be worth getting it fixed before you advertise, however.

Be sure to include the price but don’t put ‘ono’ (or near offer) after it. You should expect any buyer to want to bargain over the price. But, who knows, you might just find someone willing to pay what’s asked without complaint.

Once the advertisement appears

Check that it is accurate and is listed correctly beside other cars of that make and model. Make sure you are around to answer buyers’ calls. If they leave a message, reply promptly. Keep a diary of who is coming to see the car and when, noting full names, mobile and landline numbers and where they are travelling from.

Keep dealings with would-be buyers polite and friendly and answer their questions freely. But if someone says they’ll buy without first seeing and driving the car, be suspicious – particularly if they agree to the full asking price. They could be genuine – but equally they might be attempting to cheat you out of your car and your cash.

Similarly, be wary of any company that calls and promises that they have buyers waiting for your car. All you need do, they say, is pay a one-off fee (often as much as £100). Our experience is such companies are rarely reputable: the promised ‘buyers’ don’t exist and whatever you pay them will be wasted.

For more great car buying advice and to view and buy new and second-hand cars, click here. While you’re there, check our new, faster car search, too.

Surf the web using your mobile phone? Click here or text ‘motors’ to 65056 and we’ll send you a link. Or if you’ve an iPhone, download the app from the ‘utilities’ section of the iTunes store.

Site built and hosted by Motors Logo