What not to do when selling your car on Craig’s List

Posted: June 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

I admit this is more of a gripe than anything else, I just don’t understand what people are thinking when they post ads to sell their cars on Craig’s List.  Remember the time when you had to PAY to place an ad to sell your car? You chose your words wisely-because more words meant more money you had to pay-and you cut to the chase. Then the Internet came along, and the wonder that is Craig’s List. Thanks to technology, you can now place an ad online, in front of a bigger audience, write as much as you want with multiple pictures, and you can do it for free! The free part unfortunately has been devastating to newspapers and journalists like myself-who knew classified ads were so important to the publishing industry’s bottom line, but that’s a whole different subject.  It’s the car ads I tend to browse through the most, and there are things people do that just don’t make a lot of sense to me.

Too much to list

Making this statement in a FREE ad you post on CL is just a huge slap in the face because it was what you used to say when you had to pay for more words but didn’t want to because that cost more, hence, too much to list. Saying that now is like saying, I’m just too lazy to list everything, or there really isn’t too much to list but it sounds good like the car has way more options and new things done to it than there really is. It’s a FREE ad, you can go crazy and list just about all anyone could list. Some people do, and it can be a bit much, but the more information the better-I think.


So there was a time when not everyone had a broadband Internet connection and posting a lot of pictures was a bit more of a nuisance than it is now, but it can still be a little redundant. I don’t care how nice your car is, no one needs to see 30 plus pictures of it. Yes, if the car is a restored classic, it’s nice to have pictures of all the fine details, but even if that is the case, a link to a flickr account would be just fine, or even your g-mail Picassa page. Of course, the opposite also tends to tick me off; no pictures at all. Some people even have the nerve to say they’ll post pictures later-but they never do. You have access to a computer-really, who doesn’t in 2011-but not a digital camera or the knowledge of how to upload photos? And then there’s the people that take pictures at night, which is either brilliant or stupid, I’m leaning toward the latter. And the all-time, lame, don’t know what people are thinking, thing to do is post a ‘file’ photo. In case you don’t know what that is, it’s a picture that isn’t what you’re actually selling, but something similar, like someone else’s 1967 Mustang, preferably one that looks really nice.  So we get to see a car that isn’t your car. Some sellers will say, this is what it COULD look like. Obviously the message that sends is the actual car you’re selling is too much of a piece of crap to even post a actual picture of it. Honestly though, if you were selling your Victorian home in San Jose, would you post a picture of the Winchester House?  Think about it, that’s essentially what you’re doing.

Testing the waters

Ok, I really don’t know what this means, but a lot of people like to say it. I think what it means is you’re not sure if you want to sell your car or how much to ask, but obviously you DO want to sell it, otherwise you wouldn’t have taken the time to post an ad. All that statement is really saying is you’re clueless about selling a car. Just post a regular ad, if you get no serious offers, calls or e-mails, maybe you need to lower your asking price or re-work the ad.

Basic sales techniques

Every now and then I see people use this idiotic tactic where they ask one price, but will say they’ll take no lower than another price. For example, ‘I want $3,500, but I won’t take any lower than $3,000’. I know it seems unbelievable, but people really have done that. Who knows, maybe a really stupid buyer will come along and say, ‘oh, you’re willing to take $3K, but I’m feeling generous so I’ll give you $3,500.’

Perhaps the dumbest thing I have ever seen on a CL ad, and I see it way too much is this brilliant statement: ‘It ran great three years ago when I parked it-won’t start now.’ If a car doesn’t run, it doesn’t run. If it were a simple fix, which I also tend to hear, than you would have fixed it before you posted your ad. Saying the car was great several years ago does not tell potential buyers anything about what its current state is, it’s like saying Grandma was doing just great three years ago, but she’s dead now. I will say that for an old classic car that was sitting under a tarp in a barn for years, that statement might have some merit, mostly because potential buyers would know that the car is just a somewhat taken care of classic that no one has driven for years, so now it won’t start and the seller has no interest in getting it running again. Unfortunately though, this is not how most people make this statement. I’m talking about those people selling plain old used cars that were daily drivers-not classics, and they have gone to disrepair, but the seller wants to sound reassuring that there was a time when it DID run good, which honestly, you could say about any car.




  1. bao-bao says:

    No kidding… any time you have to scroll down to read all of the verbiage, it’s too long! Nobody needs to post something to compete with Moby Dick to sell a car. And I agree it’s not only foolish to post a photo that isn’t one of the actual car, it’s deceitful.

    Nice blog!

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