Once you've rounded-up key information about your car, you're ready to create a quick, effective ad that will make your car stand out from the rest.

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

Below are tips on how to create a good classifieds car ad that sells.

Choose the best ad package

The first step in placing an ad is to decide which ad package is best for you. The good news is that every ad runs on both Kelley Blue Book (KBB.com) and Autotrader (autotrader.com). This 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.* (*Terms and conditions apply)

We 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.

Make sure you also look at the details of what's included in your ad package to make the best decision for your needs.

Ad writing tips

The best car ads are honest and include plenty of details and the right keywords. This 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, include the good and the bad, including any accidents or problems.

Below are several additional tips for what to include in your 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 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 options such as upgraded wheels, leather upholstery, upgraded engine performance and certain safety features.

  • List your asking price

    Your asking price should be stated towards the beginning of the 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

    This is one of the most common buyer questions, 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.

  • 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 that you love might actually 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:

    • 3 months left on powertrain warranty
    • 5,000 miles remain on 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're asking the buyer to cover this or if it's included in the deal. Some manufacturers don't offer the same warranty coverage for second owners, so be sure to check your documents.

  • Provide an honest assessment of the car's condition

    This will save you time in the long run, and will let buyers know you are trustworthy. You should also list the vehicle's Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to reassure buyers that you're not hiding anything, and save yourself the step of having to respond to individual requests for it.

  • 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 the car has been well-cared for.

  • 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 forms of payment

    Let people know up front what payment you will and will not accept (e.g., "will not accept foreign money orders"). Don't take personal checks, and make sure you verify certified checks or money orders with the financial institution where they were issued. To learn more about acceptable payment forms, go to FakeChecks.org.

See a sample 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 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 minor fender bender. No frame damage. Perfect first car. Added snow tires in 2011. Price negotiable. Local cashier's check or money order only.

Include plenty of photos

Ads with photos typically get twice the response of ads without. Photos help buyers become familiar with the car so they can imagine owning it.

You can add a single photo or up to 15, depending on the ad package you select. 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, and after you've cleaned your car 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 accurately show the condition of the vehicle.

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 different places. If buyers see the price difference, they may become distrustful of you.

  • Don't forget to post quality photos. Ads with photos appear at the top of searches and are viewed before ads without photos.
  • 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 air bags or outstanding gas mileage.
  • Don't list your car in multiple places if you don't have time to manage the calls or update your ad
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