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Writing the Ad to Sell Your Used Car

By: Scott McBride - Updated: 13 Nov 2010 | comments*Discuss
Writing The Ad To Sell Your Used Car

Get the advertisement right and a quick sale will follow, but get the wording wrong and buyers will be scared off. Whether advertising on the internet or in the local newspaper, it costs money to sell a used car and no-one wants to spend even more re-advertising it. There is an art to writing the perfect car ad, but by following some straightforward rules it is easy to get it right first time.

Selling online allows a more detailed description, but be careful not to bore potential buyers. Try to keep the ad below 75 words and do not use too many confusing abbreviations. If advertising in print, limit the ad to 30 words to prevent the cost becoming prohibitive. Start the ad with the car’s most appealing features before going into more detail and try to include the following:

  • Type of car. Be exact and say, for example, Ford Mondeo Edge 2.0 TDCi estate and not Mondeo estate.
  • Year and registration letter of the car, such as 2001 Y-reg.
  • Colour.
  • Mileage. If it is high include it anyway, as all potential buyers will want to know. Just adjust the price accordingly.
  • Due date of the next MOT.
  • Expiry date of the road tax disc.
  • Number of owners. Cars with fewer previous owners are more desirable.
  • Notable features, such as alloy wheels, leather interior, air conditioning, central locking, electric windows, power steering, ABS, 160-watt stereo with six-CD changer.
  • Service history details. If a car has a recorded service history, it can add value. If it is complete, advertise as full service history.
  • Tell of any modifications made to the car.
  • Asking price, and set it slightly higher than the minimum amount acceptable, as buyers like to haggle.
  • Reason for selling.
  • Pictures when selling online. Wash and wax the car to create a good first impression and include plenty of photographs to make the ad stand out.

There is no point in trying to cover up faults, as any self-respecting buyer will find them and then use them to hammer down the price. So be honest. If there are several scrapes on the alloy wheels, say so but accentuate the positive too. For instance, if the car has had one owner for five years and has not broken down or been in an accident in that time, say so. If there are no dents or scratches on the bodywork, point this out.

Avoid using vague terms that will add little value, such as ‘good car’, ‘a joy to drive’, ‘careful driver’, ‘lovely condition’, ‘first to see will buy’ and ‘no time wasters’. It is better to be specific about the advantages and features of the car and then let the buyers decide for themselves. Include essential pieces of information, but keep the ad concise and interesting. Consider using bullet points to summarise the key features of the car and write a sentence about the car’s greatest asset.

Be honest when setting the asking price. If the car is not in great condition, be realistic and consider lowering the price. Trying to charge over the odds will reduce the chance of a sale considerably.

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