I’m always on the hunt for another car, and there are few days that go by in which I don’t spend at least five minutes on eBay scrolling through what’s on offer. In the past few weeks, I’ve been searching much more regularly, and have made some observations on the type of adverts sellers are posting, most of which are quite poor. So what makes for a good eBay ad?


In the first place, there are certain terms and phrases that just need to be avoided. For instance, don’t tell me your car is a ‘barn find’ unless you’ve actually found it in a barn. PetrolBlog has already covered this, so I don’t need to add to that. Please also avoid the term ‘future classic’. That seems to be a favourite of most people selling a car that’s more than 15 years old. But unless you’ve been given a prophetic vision of the future detailing which cars are to be considered classics in two decades, just avoid the term. It can’t be used as justification for the higher price you’re asking. Another phrase that needs to go is ‘FIRST TO SEE WILL BUY’ – yes, all in capital letters. This is a favourite of trade sellers. The advert and photos should speak for themselves, and will usually decide for me whether I’m interested in moving towards purchasing the vehicle or not. If you have to say ‘first to see will buy’, I can’t help but wonder why you need to specify that. Is it simply that you can’t be bothered to post a decent ad, or have you got something to hide?

Second, one of the simplest and easiest things you can to do make your ad stand out is to upload good photos. Even a year-old mid-range mobile phone will take perfectly acceptable photos in the right lighting. Clean and detail your car (or go get it professionally valeted), and then go park it in a nice place, during the day – empty roads or car parks always work well – and take some well-aimed and well-focused shots. I want to see all the angles of the exterior, I want to see close-ups of any damage, I want some good photos of the interior, and at least one shot of the engine bay. Don’t block out the registration, because I want to run checks on the car’s MOT history, and I’ll only assume you’re hiding something. If you claim to have a full service history and receipts/invoices, I want a photo of that as well. If you don’t post photos of these things, I want you to be wiling to do so when I ask for them (see below). When it then comes to uploading your photos to eBay, do so in high resolution, and for goodness’ sake, don’t take photos in portrait mode!


After you’ve done that, write a good advert. Tell me all about the car. How long you’ve owned it, your experience of owning and driving it, the kind of work that’s been done to it, and why you’re selling it. And be honest – if you’ve had some problems, just tell me about them. If there are any current faults, list them, and unless you know for sure, don’t tell me they are an easy/cheap fix, because if they really are, I’ll be wondering why you haven’t done it yourself. Remember, this is not a little classified ad in a newspaper. You have lots of space on eBay to talk about the car. I don’t want to have to send a bunch of emails back and forth asking all kinds of questions that should have already been addressed in the advert.

Finally, and related to that, how well you communicate tells me a whole lot about you and the car you’re selling. I was recently in communication with a seller who I emailed asking for some more information about a car. Two things in the process of communicating with him put me off. The first thing was his unwillingness to communicate with me on my terms. I had a list of about four questions, and in reply to my initial email, he simply told me to ring him. I wrote back saying I preferred to communicate by email because it was easier for me to keep track of what we’d talked about. He then wrote back answering my questions, but only partially, and again insisted that I ring him (this time in all caps). The second thing was his seeming reticence to go into more detail about the car. The advert claimed the car had a full service history, and so one of the things I asked for was a photo of the paperwork and service book. If he had just put them on the table in a stack and taken a photo of them, I would’ve been happy. But he replied saying he was unable to send a photo of the paperwork. Naturally, this sent up a red flag about the car in question. The point is that if you really want to sell your car, I’m expecting much more enthusiastic communication from you. Show a willingness to respond to my queries, be detailed, and be as prompt as you can in replying.

There are hundreds of thousands of vehicles for sale on eBay. If you really want your advert to stand out and want to sell your car quickly, these few simple things will go a long way to helping you do that. And since I am potentially handing over a significant amount of money, I have no reason to expect anything less.

2 thoughts on “If you want to sell me your car, here’s what I’m looking for

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