Advertising a car for sale

Where should you advertise your car for sale? There are several popular choices:

  • Local newspaper
  • Newsagents’ windows
  • Auto Trader
  • eBay

The best choice depends partly on what type of car you are selling. If you are selling something a bit different or special, Auto Trader can help to bring it to the attention of a wider audience.

However, if you are selling a fairly normal car in the £1,000 – £10,000 price bracket, I would recommend your local newspapers and/or eBay.

I’ve had very good results with local newspaper adverts in the past – both buying and selling. Buying and selling cars on eBay Motors is surprisingly popular and is another approach that I hear a lot of good reports about and intend to try next time I buy or sell privately.


What to include in your car advert

It’s important to include all relevant information in your advert. The following make a good starting point:

  • Make & Model
  • Trim level (e.g. LX, SRi)
  • Year of registration & registration letter/number (e.g. 2000 X reg)
  • Colour
  • Mileage
  • Service history – is it complete (Full Service History) and is it from a main dealer?
  • Options/specification – e.g. Air-con, sunroof, electric windows, alloy wheels, CD changer, front fog lights
  • When does the current MOT expire? If it runs out within a couple of months, consider getting a new MOT to give buyers confidence
  • Are you selling the car with any tax? If so say so and specify when it runs out (you can take the tax off the car and get a refund on any remaining complete months, if you wish).


Choosing a price for your car

Choosing the right price for your car is very important. Here’s how I do it:

  1. Use a service such as Parkers or RAC Value My Car to value your car.
  2. Customise your valuation to your car’s spec & mileage – or make an estimate of the adjustment needed.
  3. Add on around 10% to your private sale valuation – this should be the price you advertise.


Writing a newspaper or Auto Trader advert

Local newspaper and classified ads are charged by the word – or sometimes by the letter. The same applies to classified ad magazines like Auto Trader. This means that brevity is key with print adverts. The result is that car ads can be quite cryptic until you learn to decipher them.

For this reason, if you are placing an advert in a local newspaper, consider doing so over the phone. The advertising sales rep will probably know all the correct abbreviations to use to keep your word count down.

Alternatively, a guide is sometimes included to indicate which abbreviations you should use when writing your advert.

Here’s an example:

Vauxhall Vectra 1.8CD 2000X, 44k, FSH, black, ABS, e/sunroof, ac, alloys, T&T until May 2010

Translated, this means:

Vauxhall Vectra, 1.8 litre engine and CD trim level.

Registered in 2000 on registration letter X

44,000 miles

Full service history

Black, with anti-lock brakes (ABS), electric sunroof, air-conditioning and alloy wheels.

Road tax and MOT (“taxed and tested”) until May 2010.

Print adverts normally only allow one photo – and this usually costs extra, but is well worth it as photo ads attract much more interest.

Note: When you place a print advert to sell a car, you will often get phonecalls from companies you have never heard of who claim to have ‘guaranteed buyers’ for your car. They usually want to charge you a fee for this service. I wouldn’t recommend this – if it seems to good to be true, it probably is.


Writing an eBay listing for your car

Selling a car on eBay is a bit different. There is no restriction on how much you can say or how many photos you can publish – so your main focus should be on making sure that your advert is clear and makes the most of your car.

You still need to make sure you include all the relevant information, however. Don’t waffle on about what a great car it is but forget to mention its mileage, service history and specification!

Lots of photos are a must – especially if you have made a good job of preparing your car.

The eBay Motors website includes plenty of good advice on creating your listing which I don’t intend to duplicate – click here for an example listing and click here to get started with eBay Motors.

Remember: If you are selling your car at auction you may want to consider setting a reserve price – a price below which you won’t sell. Otherwise, your car could sell for less than you want to accept.

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