How to Create a Good Classified Car Ad

By KBB Editors 01/22/2022 12:47pm

creating a car ad

Learn how to create a quick, effective classified car ad once you’ve rounded-up essential information about your vehicle and make your car, SUV, or truck stand out from the rest.

With a good, detailed description, the right keywords, and several good photos, this will ensure that you’ll draw in potential buyers who are most likely to be interested in your make, model, price, and features.

Below are tips on creating excellent classified car ads that sell.

Choose the Best Classified Car Ad Package

When you decide to place a classified ad on Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader, your first step is to determine which ad package is best for you. The good news is that every ad runs on both Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader. Choosing an ad package maximizes your ad’s exposure and puts your vehicle listing in front of thousands of shoppers in your area and even more nationwide. It’s also worth noting that you can get a refund for the cost of your ad if you decide to convert over to a Kelley Blue Book Instant Cash Offer.

Both sites offer several different ad packages. Higher-priced ads include features that help your ad stand out, like a Spotlight placement in a prime position on the page and even an AutoCheck Vehicle History Report to reassure buyers.

Classified Car Ad Writing Tips

The best-written classified car ads we’ve found are honest and include plenty of details along with the right keywords. The writing of your ad is where you get to focus on your car’s unique selling points and remember why you bought the car in the first place. To earn a buyer’s trust and save time in the long run, be sure to include the good and the bad, including any accidents or problems.

Facts to Include in Your Classified Car Ad

  • Provide a detailed description. The more information you include about your car’s features and condition, the more effective your ad will be — and the less time you’ll spend answering individual questions. Every car ad should begin with the basics, beginning with the year, make, model, mileage, and body style (also known as “category”). Include the trim or version of your model, as it makes a difference in the value. Trim is the package of exterior and interior options that car manufacturers add to a model. So, for example, on a Honda Accord EX, “EX” denotes the trim level. Trim often includes upgraded wheels, upholstery type, upgraded engine performance, and specific safety features.
  • List the asking price. State the asking price at the beginning of the classified car ad, along with the basic specs. Begin by posting your Blue Book Value followed by your asking price, and add an explanation as to why you’re asking for more or less than the Blue Book Value.
  • Explain why you’re selling the car. One of the most common buyer questions is why are you selling your vehicle? So be sure to answer this in your ad. It gives buyers a sense of the car’s condition.
  • Show off good gas mileage. If your car gets a high number of miles per gallon (MPG), be sure to mention it in your description. Fuel-efficient vehicles are in demand.

How to Address Modifications and Warranty Status

Woman signing document
  • Highlight modifications. If you’ve added features to your car that aren’t part of its standard options, be sure to mention them in your description. A new stereo, an alarm, or specialty tires can attract buyers searching for those extras. But also remember that not all modifications add value. Sometimes that custom orange paint job or the raised suspension you love might limit the number of buyers.
  • Include any warranty information. If your car is still under warranty, the warranty is transferable, and you have the paperwork. List what type of coverage your car has and for how long. For example:
    • Three months left on powertrain warranty
    • 5,000 miles remain on the bumper-to-bumper warranty
    • Manufacturer warranty available for $50 transfer fee. If your warranty requires a transfer fee, you may also want to mention whether you are paying for it or not. Some manufacturers don’t offer the same warranty coverage for second owners, so be sure to check your documents.

How to Write About the Condition of Your Vehicle

  • Provide an honest assessment of the car’s condition. It’s essential to honestly assess the condition of your vehicle when writing a classified ad. It would also be wise to include your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN). A VIN will allow the potential buyer to run it through a vehicle history report to see if it has been totaled or flooded in the past.
  • Disclose issues that might need fixing. You don’t want to wait for prospective buyers to find something in an AutoCheck or Carfax vehicle history report — or in a pre-buy inspection — as it will just sour the deal and waste everyone’s time.
  • Mention maintenance and service records. A well-maintained vehicle is a sought-after vehicle. Give prospective buyers added peace of mind by letting them know you took good care of your car, including regular oil changes. If you kept good maintenance records, mention this, as it can back up your claim that you have cared for the vehicle.

How to Address Price Negotiations and Payments

  • Set your negotiating terms. State whether the price is “firm,” “negotiable,” or “best offer” — as this will help you target the right buyers for you.
  • Define acceptable payment forms. Let people know upfront what payment you will and will not accept. For example: “I will not accept foreign money orders or personal checks.” Don’t take personal checks due to fraud. Consider contactless payments from such services as PayPal, Venmo, or Zelle, or cashier’s checks because these forms of payment come directly from financial institutions to your account without ever sharing personal banking information.

Sample Classified Car Ad

Below is an example of a good car description for a higher-mileage car that isn’t in perfect condition but is in excellent mechanical shape:

Selling to get a family car — just had first child. 33 MPG and runs great. All scheduled maintenance, including regular oil changes. Maintenance records and mechanical inspection report available. Highway miles. Ice cold A/C. Non-smoker. Interior in excellent shape. Scratch on right side of car from a minor fender bender. No frame damage. Perfect first car. Added snow tires in 2021. Price negotiable. Accepting Cashier’s Check only.

Important: Use Plenty of Photos

Because ads with photos typically get twice the response of ads that do not include pictures, it’s important to include them. Photos help buyers become familiar with the car so they can imagine owning it.

Depending on the ad package you select, you can add a single photo or up to 15. And don’t just limit yourself to exterior shots. Interior photos, including the dash, are a must, as buyers want to know what it’s like to be inside your car.

Be sure to post quality photos after you’ve cleaned your vehicle inside and out. Photos taken on a cloudy day tend to work better, as there’s not as much glare. Avoid frustrating buyers with pictures that are blurry or lack detail. Make sure your photos are close-up and clear enough to show the vehicle’s condition accurately.

Avoid Common Pitfalls

Now that you know what to do when you create an ad, here’s what not to do:

  • Don’t list your car for two different prices in two places. If buyers see the price difference, they may become distrustful of you.
  • Don’t forget to post quality photos. Search engines view ads with pictures and place them high on the search engine listing.
  • Don’t overprice your car and expect it to sell right away.
  • Don’t change your price every two days. Buyers will think you’re not serious or your ad isn’t legitimate. Many buyers watch ads for several days or weeks.
  • Don’t neglect your car’s unique options, like a GPS, side airbags, or outstanding gas mileage.
  • Don’t list your car in multiple places if you do not have time to manage the calls or update your classified car ad.