How to write a great used car advert – top tips from the experts

  • Selling a used car privately means writing a great used car advert
  • Here’s what you should include in a used car advert, according to the experts
  • Watch our exclusive video (above) with tips from the car dealer pros

Time 7:04 am, February 1, 2022

Now’s a great time to cash in on selling a used car with prices rising – but knowing how to get rid of your vehicle like the pros isn’t easy.

Consumers could decide to sell their used car via an auction, offer it to a car dealer directly, or try getting a good bid for it on the Motorway auction platform that offers it to lots of dealers.

But there is always the ‘old fashioned’ way of selling it privately which could raise a few more pounds than a trade disposal.

Car Dealer has enlisted the help of experts in the motor trade to come up with these handy tips for writing a sparking car advert that gets your used car the attention it deserves.

So here’s our expert guide to writing a great used car advert yourself…

Collate the details

Make sure you’ve gathered all the important stuff in one place first, experts from online marketplace Motorway told us. 

No used car advert should be without the following as an absolute bare minimum, so make sure you check these off your list:

  • Make
  • Model
  • Engine size
  • Power output
  • Year of registration
  • Service history
  • Mileage

Make it short and snappy

Knowing how long your used car advert needs to be isn’t easy. Motorway’s experts said that ideally you need to aim for as little as 50-75 words. 

After writing down the vital stats listed above (often filled out in drop down boxes on advertising sites), add features that might aid a quick sale – such as air-con, sat nav, upgrade pack and cruise control. 

Keep it simple – and don’t use marketing language, acronyms, or industry jargon. Oh, and avoid capital letters, they just make you look shouty, says Motorway.  

Too detailed or not too detailed

Other experts we spoke suggested a bit of detail can go a long way, but you need to think first about where you’re selling it. 

If it’s on a site like Auto Trader, short and concise is probably better.

Whereas eBay or Gumtree users will probably prefer War and Peace listings. 

Look at other adverts on the site you’re planning to sell on first and work out what ‘normal’ looks like. Fit in.

Experts from eBay Motors Group told us you might like to answer the following questions in your advert to help buyers.

  • Has the vehicle been in an accident?
  • Was the vehicle smoked in?
  • Did you have pets?
  • What is included in this specific trim level or package on the car? 
  • Does it have any remaining warranty?
  • Are there any installed accessories?
  • Does it come with maintenance records?
  • Where was the vehicle maintained?
  • Does it have a USB slot?
  • Navigation? Bluetooth? Camera? Sunroof?
  • How many keys come with the vehicle?
  • Was it rust, paint or fabric protected?

Buyers buy with their eyes first

Pictures, pictures and more pictures. And maybe some video. The pros we spoke to couldn’t stress enough how important good photos and video are to selling a used car.

Experts from eBay Motors Group said that their surveys suggest buyers find it difficult to assess a used car’s condition without good photos and it’s easier to help manage expectations if you show pics of any wear and tear.

Be honest and don’t hide faults. Detailing them with pictures and explaining the size and how it happened shows some integrity and buyers will appreciate it.

Videos of the vehicle can be of real help to buyers and could make the difference when it comes to them taking that step to buy. 

Keep it short and focus on the key features and typical questions you’d expect to be asked. You can easily upload a video to a sharing platform like YouTube and include it in your listings.  

Likewise, offering potential buyers a video call – just as most dealers do – so they can review the car from a distance can be a great personal touch.

Think about where you take your pictures 

Motorway experts say it’s vital to ensure your car is clean and well presented. 

Shiny cars with scrubbed, vacuumed footwells give the impression that they have been well maintained – and this can have a dramatic effect on your sale price. 

For best results, take photos of your car on a bright, sunny day, and against a nice backdrop, such as a leafy street, rather than against some bins or a brick wall. 

Take lots from different angles. Close ups of damage or special features are worth including too.

Make sure the price is right

James Bush from Motorway told Car Dealer that researching a potential price is critical. 

‘You really need to be competitive,’ he says. ‘This is hugely important if you are not using an online valuation provided by the site you are looking to sell with. 

‘Pricing a car accurately is notoriously difficult. If selling to a trade buyer, conventional wisdom states that a private seller should price their car for less than a dealer would sell it for.’

Remember, if you’re selling privately you can be a bit more ambitious with your price.

The best way to do it is look at the list site you’re planning to advertise with, find cars of similar age and mileage to yours and price yours around the middle. If it doesn’t sell as quickly as you want, lower the price a bit until it does.

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Take some inspiration from the car dealer experts

Sometimes checking out how the good guys do it can give you all the inspiration you need. 

The following car dealers have been highlighted as creating great used car adverts by our experts so take a look at their websites and see how they do it before writing yours.

For more used car stories visit our dedicated section.

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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