How to write a classified Ad

There is so much choice when it comes to buying a car these days that picking the right one can be a confusing and challenging task for any car buyer.

But selling your own car can be equally difficult with so much competition for buyers to choose from. How can you make your car stand out from the crowd, and what should you be looking to highlight to prospective buyers?

Parkers is on hand to help, in this guide we outline the key information needed in a classified ad and some best practice tips to make your car stand out. Whether you're selling via eBay, Facebook, Gumtree or any of the traditional routes, buyers generally want to find the same details and see good pictures before they make a decision about contacting you. First impressions count!

Need to know information

It is important that when you look to sell your car to put yourself in the buyer's shoes. What is important to you? What information do you need to know before you buy a car?

If you can get all the essential information into your advert then you will potentially avoid a lot of time wasters coming to view your car and attract more serious buyers.

The below is what we would deem ‘essential information’.

  • Year of registration
  • Engine info including whether it is petrol or diesel, the size and number of cylinders
  • >> Type of gearbox and number of gears
  • >> Exact mileage
  • >> Service history – if you’ve had it regularly serviced at the manufacturers dealerships it will add further piece of mind to buyers
  • >> How long the MoT is valid for
  • >> Colour
  • >> Price (and if it's negotiable)
  • >> Any modifications
  • >> Number of owners
  • >> Contact details
  • >> List of equipment/features – concentrate on the kit which is going to really matter to buyers and make life easier on the road – sat-nav, Bluetooth, USB port, air-con, alloy-wheels, leather interior, cruise control – also mention if they are options and were paid for as extra at the time of sale (if bought new).

If there is room in the advert note how much power the engine produces in horsepower, the official MPG figures and the tax band the car falls into.

It may also be worth mentioning why you are selling, you maybe extending the family and need a bigger car, have moved jobs and now get a company car or maybe you've had a windfall and can now buy the car of your dreams. Either way giving the buyer a little background will help provide some reassurance.

Photo quality

We cannot stress enough the importance of pictures when it comes to selling your car. They help give a buyer the full picture and play a vital part in making a quick sale.

Take lots of pictures from all different angles and do not forget to include the interior, under the bonnet, front three quarters, side and rear plus any additional features you think make the car stand out; for example integrated sat-nav, big alloy wheels or LED headlights.

Make sure you have enough light for the photos and if you have mentioned any damage or defects take pictures of those too to help have transparency with the buyers – don’t dwell on the negatives though.

Setting the right price

When looking for a price your first port of call should be Parkers. Our car valuation section provides you with the answer to that all-important question  – how much is my car actually worth?

By tapping into our huge database of used car prices, you are able to view a breakdown of what prices you should expect from franchise dealers, part exchange, independents and private buyers.

By upgrading to our Premium package you can also gain a more detailed valuation that is adjusted for mileage and options, providing a more detailed and accurate price that will give you the edge when negotiating.

Find out how much your car is really worth here and complete a FREE valuation.

As well as getting a price from us, do some research too and see how other sellers are pricing cars similar to yours and be prepared for the buyers to barter with you. If you have a minimum price in mind, stick to it and don’t be intimidated to make a sale.

There is a lot of competition out there so it really depends on how quickly you want to make the sale to how low you’ll set your price – bargains are usually very quickly snapped up.  

Where to sell your car

There are a number of ways you can sell your car; forums, newspapers, websites and social media are all good outlets which have proved successful. It is important to look at who your car will appeal to most when it comes to selling. For example, if you’re selling a small city car that is likely to appeal to a younger buyer, online and social media may be your most successful route.

Beware of addtional charges and fees - some classified sites will take a percentage of the sale price.

Top tips

  • >> Remember you are not only selling a car but you are also selling yourself as a responsible car owner – keep text speak to a minimum and avoid slang
  • >> Make sure you spell check your ad and avoid using block capitals as they are harder to read
  • >> Be honest, you want prospective buyers to trust you and telling them about any damage, rust or defects on the car will help avoid buyers trying to knock the price down when they come to view
  • >> Make sure you wash your car thoroughly inside and out before you take pictures and take plenty of them to help buyers get a full picture of what the car is like
  • >> Limit the amount of abbreviations you use – a lot of people don’t know what most of them stand for

Further reading