How to write the best advertisement when selling your car

The best car advertisements don’t sell the car – they sell you as a responsible owner, which in turn increases what you’ll get when it comes time for cash to change hands.

In this article we’ll explore the basics of writing an amazing car advertisement – without going overboard. It shouldn’t take you any longer than half an hour, but could be worth hundreds or thousands of additional dollars. Not a bad hourly rate then, eh?

Some classifieds websites will now pre-fill and somewhat automatically write the advertisement for you. By all means leave this intact, but adding your own information is very much worth doing. Anything you can do to build trust with a potential future owner is worthwhile.

What to put in your ad

A great car advertisement can be as simple as this:

2010 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser 4X2 for sale
4-speed automatic
Full service history
Well looked after, never taken off-road
One owner since new, non-smoker
Great condition, one minor dent in rear side door

Great to drive, economical and comfortable
2 airbags
Remote central locking and immobiliser
Power windows
Aftermarket Bluetooth stereo

Just serviced, four new tyres
New clutch and new gearbox
Roadworthy certificate provided
10 months rego
Located Carlton North, Victoria
Email contact preferred –

Keep it short and sweet

We get that you’re excited to flex the creative muscles, but the person on the other end just wants to know how often you’ve changed the oil. Keep to the point and delete anything that doesn’t help sell the car.

Nail the basics

Make sure the advertisement answers the following questions:

  • The make, model, year and variant of the car
  • Transmission
  • How many kilometres the car has
  • Service history (hopefully a full service history!)
  • Any optional extras (e.g. a factory optional sunroof)
  • How much rego is remaining
  • Where the car is located
  • Are you selling with a roadworthy certificate, or not? (Only applicable to Victoria, Queensland and ACT if the vehicle is over six years old)
  • Your price (of course). If you’ve lowered your price to your minimum acceptable in order to quicken the sale, you might want to mention that the price is “firm”. You don’t have to mention it’s negotiable otherwise. It’s assumed that it is.

Should you mention why you’re selling the car? You can if you want to, but it’s not necessary. Some people like to mention they’re “upgrading”, “moving overseas”, “buying a bigger car” or “don’t use it anymore”.

Also mention connectivity as it’s a big question in the modern age. Can you somehow connect your phone to the car? Does it have Bluetooth? Or even an aux-in cable? It’s worth including.

Focus on what attracted you to the car in the first place

What made you fall in love with the car to begin with? Was it the powerful V8 engine with its scintillating exhaust note? The plush leather seats? The amazing 10-speaker sound system? The huge boot? Or, if it’s a sports car, the sublime handling? Or all of the above?

Mention all this in the ad. What attracted you to buy the car all those years ago, will be what attracts the next buyer too.

Don’t think about it too much, though, otherwise you might end up wondering why you’re selling…

Things to mention that increase value

Is the car still under a factory warranty? Is it still under a capped-price servicing agreement? Be sure to mention this in the advertisement if so.

Have you not driven it that much? The average Australian does about 13,000km per year. So if your 10-year-old car only has 30,000km on it, highlight this in the advertisement with “lower kilometres” or similar.

Are you a non-smoker? Mention this in the ad. “Owned by a non-smoker”. Nobody wants to buy a car that smells like the beer garden of their local RSL.

Is the car normally garaged? “Always garaged” is car advertisement gold.

If it’s an older car and you’ve had it since new, mention that it’s “one owner”. Something about knowing a 2002 Subaru Forester has had one owner builds trust – probably because it’s possible to know its entire past.

If the car has high mileage and you’ve driven it mostly between Longreach and Rockhampton and back, mention “mostly highway kilometres” in the advertisement. Highway driving puts a lot less wear-and-tear on a car than urban driving.

If it’s a sports car and you haven’t done any track days, mention this in the ad. “Never tracked” or “never done a track day” will suffice.

If it’s a vehicle that’s often used for towing, like a LandCruiser or a Ranger – and you haven’t towed much with it – mention this. “Never used for towing” or even “rarely used for towing” is a magic sentence for many would-be owners.

Likewise for an off-roader, “never taken off-road” will be attractive to potential buyers.

Did you just spend a small fortune fixing a heap of stuff? If it has a new clutch, a new gearbox and just had a major service – or four new tyres – put this in the ad. This helps build the value proposition for a potential buyer.

Have you spent a small fortune on aftermarket accessories that will be sold with the car? Winches, light bars, bull-bars, and the like? Or an aftermarket exhaust, bigger wheels, bigger brakes and trickier suspension? List them all and the original RRP prices, too. Add it all up at the end always looks great – “$12,000 worth of aftermarket accessories also included”.

Be honest

Use your ad to set expectations. Don’t undersell what you’ve got, but also it’s always best to ‘under-promise and over-deliver’ selling anything.

If the car is in new condition, write “near-new” or “excellent condition”. Don’t write “new condition” as cars rarely are, unless they are genuinely new.

Also, if the car is still under finance, put it in the ad. If it’s a repaired, formerly written off vehicle, put it in the ad. Same as any dings, dents, scratches or other damage.

It’s better to be as upfront as possible so that a potential buyer isn’t getting any surprises when they come to inspect the car. This wastes their time, and yours – but also leaves you vulnerable to haggling that will drive down your price.

Never not mention anything at all in the hope that they might just not notice. This is just bad life advice.

Include contact preferences

How do you want to be contacted? Phone, email, SMS? Something else? And within what hours? Put this on the ad if it’s important to you.

Use spellcheck

There are plenty of free spell-checking services online these days. An ad free of spelling and grammar errors talks to an attentive owner fussy about detail, which is likely how they looked after the car as well.

Consider attaching your ad to the side of the car

You’ve gone to all this effort to write an ad worthy of a Walkley, so you may as well fit it on to a single A4 bit of paper, put FOR SALE at the top and stick it on the rear side window (if you’re selling a sedan or an SUV, or similar) with your preferred contact method at the bottom.

Your car’s next owner could be parking next to it at Coles – and hopefully not opening their door on their future ride.

If you want to sell your car, click here and receive a price quickly.

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