Five common car selling mistakes – and how to avoid them

Very few people get good at selling cars. Unless you’re a car salesperson, chances are you’ll only sell a handful of cars over the course of your driving lifetime – but that’s no excuse for not going about things the right way.

Unfortunately, there are quite a few mistakes which private car sellers tend to make. These mistakes can mean that they don’t get the price they want, that they fail to sell quickly and waste money on advertising expenses or, the worst case scenario, they never sell their car at all.

Thinking about selling your car? We’ve put together five of the most common selling mistakes to help make your selling experience as quick and as painless as possible.

1. Not including good quality photos

Failing to include good quality photos should occur so infrequently that it shouldn’t even warrant mention – but you’d be surprised at how common a mistake it is.

While photos allow you to show your car’s condition and highlight any blemishes or issues that require mention, it’s not their only purpose – they provide you an excellent opportunity for you to communicate your honesty as a seller.

Think about presentation. Showing your car sat parked inside a dark and gloomy garage is no way to go about securing a sale. Nor is having your car parked next to another, more desirable car.

You don’t need an expensive camera. Just choose a clean, tidy location with a nice amount of light. Try to include as many pictures as you can in your ad and show you car from all angles, with both interior and exterior shots.

2. Confusing or vague listings

When creating an advert for your car, there should be one rule of thumb: include as much information as possible, be honest and try to be as descriptive as you can.

You should mention in detail any additional extras or modifications the car has had. So if you’ve had a new CD player fitted, include it in your listing. The same goes for new paint jobs, new wheels and any changes to the upholstery.

List the price, remember to mention whether or not the figure is open to negotiation, and make sure that you’re easy to get hold by stating your contact details clearly at the bottom.

3. Pricing too high

If you’re trying to sell, it’s important to compare your car against those already on the market. You should get as much information as you can before you set a price. Blogs are extremely useful for picking up additional information, and online listings and car magazines are a good place to start for reliable price comparisons.

Of course, once you’ve determined the right price, you should always push it up a little to accommodate negotiation – but don’t scare away potential buyers with a ridiculous high asking price.

4. Trying to sell a Cat C or Cat D write off

While it’s tempting to try and sell a Cat C or Cat D write off, you’ll soon realise is that there’s really no market for damaged or broken cars.

Write off categories are confusing for potential buyers to understand, and this is enough to put most of them off. What’s worse, those who do decide to find out more often come across strong advice which leans in both directions, which only further adds to their confusion. Remember: the more research a potential buyer has to do to understand your listing descriptions, the less likely you’ll be to make a sale.

If you find yourself stuck with a broken or damaged car, you can get money instantly by scrapping it. You can avoid the hassle and expense of advertising your car entirely and the whole process will be completed within a few days, leaving you free to start looking at the car listings yourself.

5. Listing ineffectively, or in the wrong places

You should feel confident that the right buyer is out there somewhere. But you won’t get anywhere waiting for them to come to you, it’s you who has to make an effort to reach them.

Don’t waste your money paying for advertising space in local papers. Widen your field. It’s usually worth paying a little more to secure a listing in a trusted and reputable national car magazine.

If you’re running an add online it might be worth uploading photos of your car to an image hosting site like Simply including the link to your photo gallery in the advert will allow you to provide more pictures than most advertising space allows for, and you’ll gain an edge over your competition.