12 must-do tips for selling your car on Craigslist

July 26, 2016

Right now, there's not a better way to reach a huge audience to sell your car than on Craigslist. It's a free website that allows you to list anything from megabuck houses to used tennis shoes to a Ferrari F40, and its format doesn't place significant restrictions on what you can put in your ad.

Even with the proliferation of apps like LetGo and OfferUp, Craigslist remains the big player for a reason: Simplicity.

Craigslist is far from perfect, however. There are bogus ads, flaky tire-kickers, and the obvious downside of working with anonymous buyers with unknown finances.

It's still a valuable tool to sell your vehicle, and quickly if you must.

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Collectively, we've bought (not to mention shopped for) dozens of cars on Craigslist. We've picked up daily drivers, sold off stylish classics, and contemplated things we really don't need cluttering up our garages.

In other words, we know how it works and how to make it work for us. Follow these 12 rules and the whole process can be cleaner, faster, and easier.

Craigslist ad

Craigslist ad

1. Make the title ultra-clear: list the year, make, model, trim level, mileage, engine and transmission, and condition.

Let's say you have a 1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4x4 that you want to sell. What's a better title for your ad: "1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4x4, 130k miles, well maintained!" or "jeep 4 sale"?

One of these is informative and shows up in CL searches easily; the does not. Think of listing a car a little like going on a date; the title is your first opportunity to impress (and inform) a potential buyer. Our recommendation is to include the vehicle's year, make, model, mileage, trim level, powertrain, and a small teaser designed to lure in readers in the ad title. If that's too much to fit, cut from the end--but make sure you get at least the year-make-model and mileage in.

Craigslist ad

Craigslist ad


2. Take pictures with a decent camera. 

You have one. It's on your mobile phone. If you don't, you Luddite, your friend does. Give the lens a quick wipe with your shirt and snap away.

It might be hip to shoot photos with a Polaroid camera (hey, they sell them at Urban Outfitters), but what you're aiming for here is clarity. 

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Craigslist ad

Craigslist ad

3. Take a lot of photos. And frame them well.

You're not limited by how many photos you can take with a digital camera, so why not spend an extra minute or two walking around the car to take photos from every angle, ensuring they are properly framed with the entire vehicle in the image?

All too often we see photos that look like they need to be stitched together with a fancy app. Don't do that.

And spend some time cleaning your car up before taking those pictures. We're all busy, but time is money and you'll net more of it if you offer up a clean car. Run it through a good car wash before taking pictures. 

Craigslist ad

Craigslist ad

4. Upload 24 photos. Because you can.

Craigslist now allows you to upload two dozen photos. We really can't think of a good reason not to fill this entire space.

You should easily be able to shoot 24 good photos of your car. Here's how we recommend breaking down your shot list:

  • One overview from each angle of the car; think front profile, rear profile, side profile (times two), a 3/4 shot from each corner.
  • Detail shots of any exterior damage and a shot of the wheels and tires showing about how much tread is left on the tires.
  • Photos of the front and back seats, the dashboard, and the odometer showing current mileage.
  • Open the hood and take an overview photo.
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