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Selling A Car - How to write a classified advert

24 August 2012
selling your car

How you word your advert can make all the difference to the amount of interest you receive and the speed at which you sell your car.

Keep it relevant
Even if you have an unlimited wordcount – in an eBay listing, for example – you won't have readers' unlimited attention, so make sure buyers will see the most relevant information as soon as possible in your ad. There's more scope for pictures online, so take advantage of this option – generally, the more the merrier.

The following are the essential facts to include:

• Year of registration
• Essential number plate info (eg. ’09/58 – a car registered in 2009 but while the 58-plate was still current)
• Mileage (be specific – 78,400 not 78k)
• Whether or not the car has a full service history
• Colour (in plain English)
• Number of owners (if it’s low for the age of your car)
• List of equipment/features (if space is limited, keep these as noteworthy as possible)
• Price
• Colour photograph
• Contact details

Abbreviations and cliches

Avoid abbreviations if you can: it's too easy to scan over them and lose their meaning, and many buyers won't know what they stand for anyway.

If you really have to use them to reduce the cost of an advert or fit within a word count, stick to the most common abbreviations such as FSH (full service history), PAS (power-assisted steering), AC (air-conditioning), EW (electric windows), RCL (remote/central locking), ONO (or nearest offer), VGC (very/good condition).

Cliches such as 'first to see will buy' or 'one careful lady owner only' sound insincere and will undermine the genuine nature of the rest of your ad, so avoid using these, too.

Dan Trent, editor of PistonHeads, the best source of classified cars, advises this:

'Keep your advert punchy and informative, avoid txt spk and use your spellcheck!

'You're not just selling the car - you're selling yourself as a responsible owner and it pays to make a good impression.

'Cliche or not, pictures tell a thousand words too so take the effort to give the car a wash, photograph it in daylight in front of a clear, uncluttered background and from plenty of angles to help your buyer make an informed choice about what they're looking at.

'Be honest too - you'll immediately win trust and owning up to a couple of faults that'll be immediately obvious upon viewing anyway marks you out as a straight talker.'

Next step: Meeting private buyers >>

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