By on June 30, 2015

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As I’ve mentioned before, I spent about four years as a “deal spotter” for Bring A Trailer. Much of that work consisted of browsing eBay, Craigslist, and various marque-specific forums looking for interesting deals on classics. Of course, I have a day job as well, so I try and minimize the time I actually spend looking at cars while simultaneously looking like I’m actually working. The eBay app for my Android helps in this matter, so I can work on my side job while indisposed.

So, I spend nearly an hour or two every day trying to quickly assess every car by the lead photo before moving on. I can quickly spot deals or find those auctions that won’t sell. It’s like automotive Tinder – swipe left for the rotted F-body, swipe right for the longhood 911.

(I did have to reference Wikipedia on Tinder, by the way. I’m a happily married man.)

Since my friends know I have this ample shopping experience, they all assume I know the best ways to sell a car on eBay.Funny thing, though: I’ve never actually sold any cars there. After all, I’m a writer, and as such, I’m not paid enough to actually afford any car I want. Those who can afford to buy, do. Those who can’t, write about it.

I have a good friend who’s a real estate photographer – and, incidentally, the least-douchey BMW fanboy I’ve ever met. The key to marketing anything online is putting your product in the absolute best light possible. In realtor’s parlance, it’s called “staging.” He ensures each room is properly lit, is clean, with absolutely no clutter. The images he produces are astounding, and they sell houses.

Car sellers on eBay need to consider staging as well. No, you don’t need a trunkload of Nikon glass like my friend, but most people have a decent camera in their pants right now.

Take Good Photos
You get at least twelve photos with a basic for-sale auction. Another $2 doubles it. Make that $2 back by going for a Tall rather than the Venti tomorrow; it will be worth it. Shoot each quarter panel, a profile, front, and rear. Front seats, rear seats, VIN plate, odometer and trunk all need to be shown, too. If you omit something, buyers will think you’re hiding something. This car, for example, is shown well, with two dozen pics from all angles, even the undercarriage:

Hemi

If there are flaws in your car, take detailed pics of those flaws so the buyer can judge for themselves. Maybe the cracked front valence isn’t a big deal to you, but it could be to someone looking for a clean car.

Post Those Photos
Next, you need to know how to get those photos off of your camera and onto eBay. Last spring, I happened across an auction for a vintage Chevy truck. Not typically something that would catch my eye, but for the lead photo. The seller had taken pics with his iPhone, and then took a photo (not a screenshot, a photo) of his iPhone to show the truck. Memorable, yes. It got me to click. It got me to make fun of him on Facebook. But that’s no way to capture good detail of a vintage car.

Of course, once you get the pics on your computer, they need to be properly oriented:

Sideways Fairlane

Though it is theoretically possible in your particular part of the world there could be an unusual sideways pull of gravity that causes bias-ply tires to grip sheer cliffs like a rock climber, most buyers and shipping companies will not be appropriately equipped for these loads.

Look At The Background
Also, consider the fella at the top of the page.

Willys

The background is cluttered, distracting from the vehicle for sale. Also, the inclusion of human or canine subjects in the photo inevitably leads to stupid questions from buyers: “Is the dog included?”

Minimize Misogyny
On that note, please: lose the scantily-clad women from our photos. Clearly, those people shopping eBay know how to “get online” as we used to say when our modem tones made it clear to all around that we were doing so. One could make the parallel assumption that most of those who happen to be horny while car shopping would be best served by opening a second tab on their browser of choice and typing words like “The Chive” or “Pornhub” into said browser. An orange-peel coated Eleanor clone draped with a similarly-orange-peeling forty-something in a too-small bikini is just sad, and does nothing to sell the car in question.

Bikini

Oh, yeah: objectifying women is bad too. Funny thing, though, the bikini-model is almost exclusively posed with American iron. You never see a woman posed atop a Miata. Hmm.

Write Well
Please, use reasonably proper English when writing the description of your car. NO CAPS LOCK. Write complete sentences and include all of the appropriate details about the car in question. Space those sentences out into paragraphs – no one will read a wall of text. And, for God’s sake, the name of your car is typically printed somewhere on the car. Go to your car, write down the spelling of the model name, and type it into your auction listing.

I’d have to say there are nearly as many Cameros for sale on eBay at any given time as there are Camaros. However, the Camero is not listed in Hagerty’s Classic Car Valuation Tool, and won’t be rolling across any stages in Arizona next January.

Avoid Clichés Like The Plague
Mariska HargitayPlease stop using the term “unmolested” when referring to a clean, stock vehicle. What you do in the privacy of your own garage is your business and Sergeant Olivia Benson won’t be inspecting for enlarged tailpipes. Just stop using that word.

I often see dealers using eBay to shill their stock. That’s fine, I suppose, though some of the stock language they use isn’t appropriate for every car. Don’t make the mistake of copy/pasting their ad copy. A couple years ago, I was looking at a 1947 MG TC on eBay. The dealer’s boilerplate read:

“The factory warranty has expired, and we can’t get it extended.”

No kidding. In fact, the MG factory in Abingdon has expired. I’d imagine the new Chinese owners of the MG marque would chuckle a bit at a warranty claim for a car designed before Mao was in power.

Stop calling your car “one of a kind.” Technically, I know it’s true, as there shouldn’t be any other car out there with the exact VIN as yours. That doesn’t make it a special snowflake.

Unless your car is a truly limited edition, like one of 750 Shelby CSXes made in 1987, let’s end the trend of “one of only 17 Q94 packages in white-over-black built the week of July 9th on the second shift, so it wasn’t driven off the Hamtramck line by the magnificently flatulent Steve G.” Again, it’s not special. Stop it.

Target the Right Market
If you are selling a car with any sort of enthusiast value, consider cross-posting (with permission) to the appropriate forums. Don’t spam every forum out there, though. Get involved with the forum well prior to posting your car for sale, else you come off as a untrustworthy, opportunistic troll. If the forum has rules against posting eBay links, follow the rules.

Remember, there are enthusiasts and forums out there for just about everything. I’ve been a lurking member of boards dedicated to Honda Odysseys, Chrysler minivans, and Nissan SUVs. Mostly, I joined in an attempt to glean cheap repair tips, as these places can be quite useful. But don’t upset the fanatics. They will turn on you.

eBay can be a minefield. There are fraudulent buyers and sellers everywhere, so it pays to do your homework. But there are few outlets with the national and international reach that eBay has. Follow these guidelines, and you should get the most for your ride.

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68 Comments on “How to Best Sell Your Car on eBay from a Former Bring-A-Trailer Deal Spotter...”


  • avatar
    S197GT

    the lousy photo taking (usually with cell phones) is my main pet peeve.

    if there was money in it i’d create a business for taking photos for cars and houses.

    5 years ago my friend was a real estate agent and listed our house for us. a d40, 10mm super wide-angle lens, and sb600 flash did more than anything to sell that house. we had SO many showings; many of whom decided they didn’t want to make an offer but the photos at least got them “in the door”; literally. we ended up selling in under 3 months.

    i queried her about offering a service for photo taking and she said i could certainly do it… for the right price. and that price didn’t seem worth it to me.

    i think you’d have to target the high-end market to make any money and i am sure that at that price point there is some tough competition.

    looking at houses for sale online a few months ago i was astonished by the poor quality (and real lack of any kind of effort) of the photos posted even now.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      My mom just bought a condo that had been on the market for nearly a year, in a market where most properties have multiple offers within the first week. Half the reason was that the condo needs heavy updating, but the other half was absolutely terrible pictures on the listing. Good for her — she got a deal — but very bad for the seller.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      I wasn’t happy when my real estate agent suggested “staging”. And was even less happy when the stager came in and told me what I had to get rid of. And the expense of doing some kitchen updates.

      And I got a full price offer the fourth day it was on the market.

      At which point I shut up, packed, and moved. And guess what? Almost all the furniture that went into storage for the staging didn’t come back into the new house. In the first place, its about 15% smaller than my old house. In the second place, I hadn’t realized my place had gotten that cluttered over the last fifteen years.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I don’t get staging. I prefer the house to be completely empty. I know that is unreasonable when someone is living there, but I imagine the house without the stuff in it anyway. Maybe this is because I’ve only purchased foreclosed homes.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I prefer empty as well. I visually place my things in an empty room. Much harder to do when there’s a basket of yarn and an ugly couch in the way.

          • 0 avatar
            redmondjp

            I’ve been a staging skeptic for a long time, but have come to see that it really does work if done properly.

            Decluttering is the main thing, whether you choose to stage or not. Nobody wants to look at your crap, whether it is on the kitchen counter, bathroom vanity, fireplace mantle, or dresser top.

            And good stagers know to use tiny furniture that makes the spaces look lived-in, but still very large. In my area, they have huge warehouses of furniture that the stager can select from and have delivered, while all of your stuff is already in storage.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I might also add that my house is sort of “staged” all the time. I have a low-to-reasonable amount of furniture and decoration, and no personal effects or photographs lying about. The fridge is empty (exterior), and all surfaces are devoid of clutter or papers.

            You could walk through my entire house, and the only fact you’d have is that one or two people live there, as there is only one room which is used as a bedroom.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Bad photos of houses are way better than misleading photos or altered photos. Nothing like taking a picture of a 3-season room, that had a closet added, towards the inside of the house, and calling it a bedroom. That realtor deserves a special seat in hell.

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        Even perfect photos can fail to clue you in on the most ruinous damage that isn’t water or tornadoes… nicotine stink.

        We had to tearfully pass on an otherwise immaculate brick bungalow with a 3-car garage, perfect lawn; even a gratis heavy duty work bench and large table saw the owner, a professional carpenter, was leaving in the garage. Exquisite finished basement, swank bar/football lounge down there…. EVERYTHING about this house said BUY ME.

        Except you couldn’t stand anywhere inside for 5 minutes without tearing up and coughing as husband and wife were 3-pack/day smokers.

        F*ck!

        • 0 avatar
          Erikstrawn

          Kilz. When I bought my house you could see the nicotine stains on the walls around where the pictures were hung. I Kilz’d the walls and ceiling, shampooed the $%&* out of the carpets (replacing the carpets is even better), and there was no evidence of smoking.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            Yeah, Kilz rocks for moderate wall stains. This was beyond Kilz like pneumonia is beyond aspirin.

            Every porous surface in the place seethed with it.

          • 0 avatar
            redmondjp

            We’ve had rentals that we had to clean the nicotine out of. Amazing. Like baked-on oil on the walls. You could brush the same surface on the wall with 409 for an hour and continue to turn the wash water brown time after time. When it’s that bad, I can’t see painting over it – it will come through eventually.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Don’t show pictures of another car in your ad. I got about a third as many requests for my Lotus as I did the Elva I was selling.

    I wonder about ads that need to describe the history of the marque. Made worse when they barely mention the actual car itself.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    All great pieces of advice. I especially like lots of pictures of all angles – everyone has a different definition of “clean” etc so let me judge for myself.

    I also love the guys who are dealers (or at least flippers) who have several ads on at the same time and who have the same girl with each car. I get it, that’s your girlfriend/wife/mistress – nobody gives a crap. Her legs didn’t distract me from the rusted out floor in your “rat rod” Valiant.

  • avatar
    e30gator

    I hate when a car is advertised as having “damage” with no pictures of said damage. I’m also always on the lookout for a deal and a little needed bodywork might not scare me away–as long as I can see it.

    Lesson learned: I once drove across the state to look at a Volvo V70 T5 that looked okay in the pictures and when I called about it, the owner said it was a “good” car. Three and a half hours later I was standing in front of a clapped out POS that was leaking oil all over the parking lot. Never again will I drive more than 45min to see a vehicle that I haven’t seen every angle of in a picture and play a game of 20 questions with the owner first before committing my gas money and time into seeing a car.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      I know all about that, my four and a half hour adventure to upstate PA (two and a half there, two back) to look at a cheap Cherokee ended up being a complete bust because the seller never noticed (or simply lied about) the rotten floors up front.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        People LOVE to lie about rust. Even when I am very specific about it!

        “Does it have ANY rust, AT ALL?”

        “No, none!”

        *Rust above lift gate from standing water. Rust bubbles on wheel arch.

        WTFUUUU. I leave immediately.

  • avatar
    walleyeman57

    I automatically try to get a big discount on any cars with new breaks, manuel transmissions or duel exausts.

  • avatar
    threeer

    “And, for God’s sake, the name of your car is typically printed somewhere on the car. Go to your car, write down the spelling of the model name, and type it into your auction listing…”

    This. A thousand times this. Is it really that hard to properly spell the name of your car? Improperly written listings drive me bonkers. Years ago, I was selling my 1985 MB 300TD online and wound up selling it a family a few hours north of me. When we met, he told me one of the biggest reasons he decided to contact me was due to the manner in which the ad was written. Clear, concise with enough detail to get a good idea of the condition of the car (yes, the good and the bad). There was no need for hyperbole or attempts at overinflating the car.

    And while I guess it’s okay for dealers to advertise on eBay, it gets stupid when they plant about 30 near-duplicate ads for their 2015 Civics, all with 99.9% copy and pasted wording.

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    All good points above. Good pictures are key.

    And honesty – that comes through in an ad. For example, if your vehicle has known rust spots, and you take good pictures of those areas showing that there is no rust (granted, I’m talking about mostly underbody here as you can hide just about anything with enough bondo underneath the paint), that will go a long way towards generating buyer interest.

    If you acknowledge the vehicle’s weak points and list how they have been addressed or what their status is (eg: lower ball joints have been replaced with NOS Moog components), that is also very helpful.

    Did I mention good pictures? Get a $20 used digital camera off of craigslist – one that has selectable flash and closeup modes – and learn how to use it.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Chalk up another L for cameraphones. I am certain Ebay’s image algorithm utterly destroys image quality, but even still, with a legit camera you are jumping from a higher ledge.

    Other thing though is people who take “artsy” photos. Dont post your message board diagonal Instagram “vintage filter” shots. Instantly screams “college age kid who powershifts on late night highway pulls” and will scare off anyone with a brain. One solid goal is to come off as un-backwards cap-ish as humanly possible.

    Another good tip for car photos… dont take em at high noon. Cars look better when the sun is at an angle.

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    Great article and totally agreed….presentation is everything when selling anything. It’s amazing how many people don’t understand or care about that concept when selling.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I have been on a quest to find a Ford Probe GT (89 highly preferred, would buy a 90 – 92) or Ford Probe LX 5-speed manual (90 – 92) for almost two years now.

    I’ve seen five cars, covered hundreds of miles. I was actually going to have a friend fly me out see a car last month (that’s how far I’m looking now) and the seller was such a tool, scam warning red lights went off and there was no way I was going to pay for the aviation fuel for a four hour trip for nothing. Here is what I’ve observed in two years in trying to find a first generation Probe not in need of a complete top to bottom overhaul (I’m not looking for turnkey, but I’m not looking for a 3 year project either).

    * Everyone from dealers to private sellers lies when it comes to the condition of the car. Read on a bit below on two of my favorites.

    * A lack of pictures, and a lack of response when asking for pictures is a big point of frustration. If you’re asking 2X or even 3X past book value on a Ford Probe, at least give me some pictures before I drive 200, 300, 500 miles to see your car.

    * People are stunningly uninformed in general about cars and can’t answer even basic questions.

    * People that have nicer examples of cars, in general, act like douches. I don’t understand why. I walked away from one deal because the seller was so awful to deal with – and I wasn’t being a butt on price, I’ve learned in the last two years if I want a relatively clean, relatively stock, don’t have to go looking for parts for the next 3 years and immediately drop $3K on a paint job Ford Probe, I need to be willing to pay far more than what the “book” says.

    ==========================

    Peoples Exhibit A:

    Guy down in Portland. Lots of pictures of the car. Car looks amazing in the pictures. There is some concern about water in the back watch looking at the pics, but at least it gives me some idea of the condition. Guy provides VIN for Carfax, car comes back with just two owners, and the low miles match up. Looking better for this ’89 GT. E-mail him my list – does the power seat still work, does the center trip computer display still work, is the exhuast free of leaks, with the low miles what kind of fluid leaks.

    Swears the car was garage kept, perfect condition, everything works. Drive to Portland. When we see the car I notice a small scuff on the rear bumper immediately on the allegedly 10 of 10 exterior. OK, a quick walk around shows it is about 9 of 10 – I can let that go.

    He opens it up. First thing that hits us, the musty smell of bad water damage. The interior is completely sun faded – did this garage have a roof? There are still dried out vines that had grown into the cargo area when you lifed up to the spare tire well. Trip computer? Inoperative. DIC? Inoperative. Power seat? Ya it operates, in 2 of 6 directions – I can’t lower the seat. The car is hemorrhaging oil. I – mean – hemorrhaging. The exhaust system is non-existent. I had arranged for an inspection at an independent mechanic, it did drive strong. The list of needed repairs was ridiculous. I don’t have the time or energy. The guy was disappointed when I showed him the list – I wanted to throttle him for wasting my time.

    ==========================

    Peoples Exhibit B:

    This next one was fortunately local. Asking price was $2K. Good pictures showing good detail. Once again, espousing how perfect the car is. Couple of conversations, hard questions asked as I’ve gotten smarter. Go drive out to take a look.

    As the car pulls up I’m excited, it looks really good. It goes downhill fast.

    “Huh, it needs a windshield.”

    Ya, “I forgot that it was broken.”

    Wait – how do you FORGET the piece of glass you stare through is completely broken?!?!

    The very next statement, “I check it out and you can get it replaced for $100.”

    Wait, you just told me you “forgot” it was broken but you have a BS price quote on a $100 windshield – installed? Does that $100 windshield come with a free crack in it?

    I go straight to the cargo area. Musty smell, warped back spare tire cover, clearly water damaged. “Huh, water in the trunk.”

    “Oh that just happened when I washed it.”

    “The clear coat is peeling on this fender.”

    “Oh ya, I forgot, the car got hit by this woman a few years ago so that side was repaired, I guess they didn’t do a good job oo the paint.”

    You didn’t tell me the taillight is broken (as it crack/hole in it). The picture didn’t show that.

    “Oh those pictures were taken last year.”

    My offer price was gone from what you’re asking to $1600.

    Let me drive it. Pulls hopelessly to the left (fixable), the engine however has no power at all below 1500 RPM. None. I have to keep the Ford Vulcan 3.0 up above 2K or it lugs and wheezes in protest. Something definitely not right, but not sure what as it does run smoothly – just no power in the low end. Brake rotors will all need to be replaced, the tires are thin – not to replacement, but thin.

    OK – so I’m in for 1/2 the car being painted, a windshield, fixing a water leak that hasn’t got totally destructive, sourcing a new spare tire cover, brakes, alignment, and tires and unknown engine work.

    “Do you have repair receipts or any records.”

    “We do all the service ourselves.”

    The body is straight, it is unmolested.

    I’ll offer you $1,600 cash , and I’m being generous given the condition of the car.

    Holy crap – you’d a thought I just called her kids ugly and kicked her dog.

    I wanted to say, “you know lady, if you were honest about all these problems and were still asking $2K, you actually might have gotten $2K from me because for the most part the interior and body bits are not a project – the other stuff is doable over a year. I’m offering $1.6K because you’re not showing me a car that you presented in your communications, your photos, or your ad.

    One day I’ll find that ’89 Ford Probe GT – but it feels like I’m looking for a darn unicorn.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Occasionally I think to myself about trying to find the unicorn second-gen Acura Legend (’92-’95) of my dreams. Then I realize I’d have an experience like yours. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      $1,600 for an ’89 Probe? You are a generous man and did not deserve such poor treatment.

      I’m not even being sarcastic.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Pristine or fully restored 89 GTs are going for $5K to $6K now – and of what I’ve seen, prices are going up.

        Very hard to fine one – had one slip through my fingers last year. Black on gray ’89 GT with every option, 44K original miles, garage kept, dealer serviced it’s whole life, long list of work on what had been done, key gaskets, seals and parts that die due to lack of use largely replaced. Was at a Ford dealer that had it serviced it for the one owner it’s whole life – they started at $5800, dropped the price to $5000 – when I saw it online it had already been sold.

        Part that makes me sad is it probably did not go to someone with the plans of keeping it as a garage queen and maintaining the work done.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Thank you for typing up these accounts. I enjoy knowing that people selling cars everywhere are awful. I have never done anybody this way! Always fess up to any problems right in the dang ad. Don’t waste our time.

          That Probe might be an Ebay-search type item. They’re just almost all junked already.

          This one looked interesting. Didn’t sell.
          http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ford-Probe-Testarossa-Pkg-/151700729638?forcerrptr=true&hash=item2352116f26&item=151700729638

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      I had an 89 Probe. I’m surprised there are any left. Ford-specific parts were unavailable when I dumped mine in 99. The fuel filler neck was the biggest problem. They all rotted prematurely, no replacements were available, and you couldn’t pass emissions without it.

      The Mazda 626 part didn’t fit either, but that one was available.

      Come to think of it, I haven’t even considered buying a Ford since. The thought of a 10 year old car that can’t be fixed because of a lack of parts makes me angry. The same thing happened to a friend’s Lincoln.

      Other than that it was a good car. Not as sporty as it should have been, but it really shone on the highway. It had a super-low Cx and good gearing that gave it tremendous range.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        If I babied the throttle on my ’89 back in the day I could eek out 36-37 MPG on the highway through hilly terrain – back in the 55 stay alive days when you could drive around 62 and get away with it.

      • 0 avatar
        Chris Tonn

        I never knew there was such a following on the first-gen Probe.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Wait till you meet the Corsica and Beretta people.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            There are Corsica and Beretta people?

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Hey the Beretta can look good still in certain trims. Like the Z26.

            https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2d/1996ChevroletBeretta-front.jpg

            Overall not my thing, rather have something bigger and 3800. I feel like the Corsia and Beretta were not particularly well-made, and have a flimsyness about them.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “There are Corsica and Beretta people?”

            Yes. Well at least there were when I last spoke to one a few years ago. Their main rivals are Probe owners.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            This is the kind of thing that happens when the mental healthcare system breaks down.

            They don’t need rivals, they need medical attention.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            “Wait till you meet the Corsica and Beretta people.”

            I see you’ve been Downriver. I’ve seen drag races between V6 Firebirds and Beretta Z26s down there. It’s like time stopped in 1997.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            This is very sad. Shouldn’t we have a fundraiser to help these people?

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            ” I’ve seen drag races between V6 Firebirds and Beretta Z26s down there.”

            Gah, the worble!

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Yes. A benefit concert with Kid Rock and some generic sounding country band (I don’t know country music). But that may just exacerbate the problem.

  • avatar
    Verbal

    Pet peeve: vehicles advertised as having “low miles”. Why not just list the odometer reading and let us judge whether they are low miles or not?

    Never reply to an ad that contains the phrase, “Yo hit me up what you got.”

    Never buy a car that is “wired for subs”.

    Never buy a car that “just needs a battery”, “just needs a tune up”, or simply “needs work”. That last one could mean anything, and tells you nothing.

    Is it that hard to clean all your garbage out of the interior before you snap photos?

    never buy a car where the description is written in all lower case in one continuous sentence without punctuation and which contains a long heartfelt sob story of the personal circumstances such as health or financial problems that are forcing them to sell the car which they would love to keep if only they could

    Never buy a 2005 Altima that is listed for $1542 in excellent shape with a poor resolution photo with palm trees in the background and you live in Seattle. And the listed phone number has an area code that isn’t anywhere near you.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      …Is it that hard to clean all your garbage out of the interior before you snap photos…

      I have never, EVER, understood this.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “Never buy a car that “just needs a battery”, “just needs a tune up”, or simply “needs work”. That last one could mean anything, and tells you nothing.”

      These are my favorites though! “My buddy thinks it needs X”.

      That terminal transmission noise is just a worn CV joint. Thankyouverymuch.

    • 0 avatar
      honda_lawn_art

      The palm tree one is my favorite. I play a game, ‘spot the scam’. Sometimes I have to get all the way through the ad to find the crunched up fender of the $2500 ’06 Explorer to figure out it wasn’t a scam after all.
      Also the front plates are a dead giveaway. For some reason the grainy photos all come from rear plate states.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I wish more people would post their option stickers. Knowing the suspension package, gearing, and differential situation is nice.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      For cars with VIN posted you can look most of that up online. When I was sealed bidding in the local school district auction I used the VINs to look up all sorts of info about the cars.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        VIN usually tells you the engine and sometimes transmission, but not the other information I mentioned.

        There are some VIN decoder sites that are supposed to give you RPO info, but I’ve found them hit-and-miss when checking their accuracy against what I already own.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    I like looking through ebay for interesting cars. But I don’t like it as a seller. I’ve tried to sell a few cars on there and didn’t even get close so what they were worth. eBay bidders tend to be cheap unless it’s something like a sixties muscle car or air cooled Porsche 911, in which case they’ll overbid.

  • avatar
    dingram01

    Of course, the most important thing to remember is the one sentence that is both truth and falsehood in car marketing: “Won’t last!”

    If possible, try to couple it with the phrase “runs and drives.”

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Batman falls on hard times apparently.

    http://seattle.craigslist.org/kit/cto/5060786540.html

  • avatar
    danio3834

    A source of personal entertainment for me lately has been selling a rusted and worn out XJ Cherokee via online classifieds. Trying to get a mere $300 out of this running, 4×4 working hulk, and apparently every drooling moron wants it but they either:

    1. Can’t follow simple directions to get to the vehicle, get lost and give up
    2. Rescind their $300 offer when they realize it will cost significant amounts of money to put it safely on the road even after I’ve explained that it’s a $300 Jeep! Everything is wrong with it!

    “What does it need to pass inspection?”

    F*cking everything!

    This will be one where I post a follow up ad of it being crushed for the two dozen jackwagons who’ve wasted my time over the last couple weeks.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      I relate. I recently tried to sell a Volvo 850R wagon. You want to talk jackwagons, meet a few Volvo “enthusiasts.” They’ll start out by bragging about how much they know about the car and market and after a few calls will offer you $4k, and act like they’re offering you $40k.

      I ended up selling it for practically nothing to a painting contractor. I’d rather lose a grand or so than sell it to one of those jags, and the guy’s getting some really good use out of it.

    • 0 avatar
      BigOldChryslers

      I’m guessing you can understand those guys that post stuff like, “If I don’t get my asking price, I’m going to scrap it!”. This tends to ruffle a lot of peoples’ feathers on forums, but I sympathize with these sellers. They’ve probably been trying to sell their cars/parts for awhile but been inundated with lowballers and no-show buyers that just waste their time.

      I had a GMC van that I was trying to part out. It was parked at a friend’s farm about 40 minutes drive from my house, so it was some effort for me to get out there to meet with potential buyers. After repeated no-shows, and one nut-bar that kept insulting me by email because he didn’t like my price for the doors, I signed the ownership over to my friend and told him to scrap the van and keep the money.

      I did keep the (diesel) injection pump. I put it up for sale for what I thought was a cheap price. Someone called, said they wanted it. They met me in the parking lot where I work, THEN tried to cut a better deal with a sob story about how they had to drive a long way. I would’ve told them to accept my price or beat it, but I was worried that they’d come back and vandalize my vehicle in the parking lot later. I basically gave the pump away.

      • 0 avatar
        Superdessucke

        Yup. I had one d’bag who was high bidder near the end of the eBay auction ask me to cancel his bid. When I did so, he started bidding again at the new much lower price! His excuse — “well, it’s an automatic so I don’t want to pay that much.” No sh-t dumbass. It only says that in the listing and there’s like 5 pictures showing the interior. Completely screwed me and the car didn’t sell.

        Normally I prefer a car to go to an enthusiast because I am one myself. Not here. I was very glad to give it to a guy who’s already trashed it. No regrets!

  • avatar
    facelvega

    Pet peeve that I think is actually good salesmanship: “Runs perfect and never gave me a problem in xxx years.” For me, this is a red flag that a naive owner has no idea that virtually every wear item is about to fail, and the floor and wheel wells are so rusty you can pass an apple through them. But what I prefer, a long, knowledgeable list of recent repairs and replacements, I think actually hurts resale in most cases.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I think the same way, but I’ve found that the average person doesn’t, or will at least try and turn it around on you. I’ve proudly shown a buyer a stack of receipts for him to reply, “wow this thing has been really problematic, huh?”

      • 0 avatar
        facelvega

        I also like to see photos of the undercarriage, which to most people would be like posting endoscopic screen grabs when they expected baby pictures.

    • 0 avatar
      Monty

      I sold my ten year old Plymouth Voyager by detailing it over an entire day (it wasn’t disgustingly dirty or anything, but it looked brand new on the inside when I was done), then posting an ad on Kijiji with about a dozen photos, honestly describing the condition and listing all the major repairs and then added a detailed list about all the known fault points of the Caravan/Voyager twins. I showed the two minor rust repairs I had done, with photos, along with a photo of the one minor dent in the rear bumper.

      By the time I was finished writing the ad copy I had written almost 700 words. After my wife did some editing I posted the ad, and within an hour had over a dozen phone calls, and I sold the van within three hours to a nice family that handed me my asking price in cash. They were the first to show up to see the van in person, and when the wife opened the front door, she turned to her husband with a look that said “don’t fuck around, buy the damn van now”.

      I was honest, answered questions to the best of my knowledge, had an expandable folder with an invoice or receipt for every expense on the van excluding fuel purchases, and still had all the original paperwork from when we bought the van.

      It pays to maintain your vehicle as we were able to get $3900.00 for a ten year old van with over 130,000 (80,000 miles) on the odo.

      I basically followed Chris’ advice and it worked out to my satisfaction!

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I love selling minivans. In my experience they involve very little BS, just like your story. The types of buyers looking for them just want something that meets their needs. If it checks the boxes, they buy.

        The frustrating sales are to “enthusiasts” or those who are extremely emotional about their purchase. Rational thinking goes out the window.

  • avatar
    kmoney

    All good points regarding photos. Just one more thing to add though:

    Ebay lets your write your listings using HTML code. I’ve always found it best to use the base number of free photos for smaller resolution pics and then just upload full resolution (11-15MB jpgs) to Dropbox, Photobucket, etc… and code the photo links into my listing. I get that it’s harder for some people to do, but it’s free and allows for uncompressed and literally unlimited photos. I guess it’s not such a big deal for cars, but for some items it’s nice to have the resolution to pixel peep every little detail.

  • avatar

    Wiki for Tinder, but no citation for Pornhub…..

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    My pet peeve (and this goes for new car dealers as well): don’t list standard features in the vehicle options list. I really don’t need to know that the car has power steering and 4-wheel disk brakes. Please just list the optional items in the options list. Maybe all car listing sites should have a section for listing all the standard features so that the feature spamming can be obtained without having huge lists of useless information.

  • avatar

    I suck at selling cars on Craigslist- I always price lower than they are worth just to make them go away as fast as possible. Makes it more fun for me and I rarely have to entertain more than one person. Boom, done and I move on with my life.

  • avatar
    duffman13

    I’ve sold more than my fair share of cars on Craigslist over the last 5 years. One thing that is definitely worth noting it that for pictures, they do take HTML as well. If you host your pictures somewhere like imgur or photobucket, the site will often give you the HTML so you can easily past it into the ad and have nice fullish resolution versions of the pics rather than using the miniature Craigslist image viewer.

    Alternatively, you could use the mini-viewer for some basic ones and enclose a link to the full library of high resolution ones as well.

    And as others have said, a good detail job before the photos or when a buyer comes to see the car goes a long way to making the car sell.


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