How To List a Used Car On Craigslist

Here’s what you need to know about how to list a car on Craigslist. Craigslist is an inexpensive way to advertise your used car. It’s the first place a lot of potential buyers will look. You can provide the details in the ad and link it to the handy tools in your PrivateAuto listing.

Setting Your Car’s Price

Craigslist shoppers are looking for a bargain. They know they can save some dough when they buy from a private seller rather than a dealer.

And it’s a great deal for you too because you can get a better price than if you traded in or sold it to a dealer. That’s because dealers pay the car’s wholesale value.

In other words, they buy the car at a low price so they can sell it for a profit.

But you can sell for less than the dealer retail price and still get more for it.

The market value of a used car depends on… well, the market.
How much buyers want to pay.
How much sellers want to get.
Economic factors. Fuel prices and employment rates, for example.
How much similar cars sell for in the area.

And there’s adding value to the thing sold. For instance, people shop at Nordstrom’s even though they can get the same goods at Walmart for less.

It’s because Nordstrom’s level of service makes shopping a much more pleasant experience.

There are some tried-and-true resources for finding the market value of a used car.

Kelly Blue Book. Les Kelley, a Los Angeles dealership owner, published the first Blue Book in 1926. It quickly became the definitive guide to car pricing.

Edmunds bases your car’s value upon what car shoppers paid for similar cars in your area.

Consumer Reports quotes used car values using data from dealers and auctions.

National Automobile Dealer Association (NADA) pricing is based on data from dealer and auction sales as well as other market data.

How To List a Car On Craigslist

You want to sell your car quickly and get a fair price. Here are the steps explaining how to list a car on Craigslist.
Image highlighting Buying/Selling Car Privately by PrivateAuto

Get Photos

Take a lot of photos of your car, outside and inside.

First, wash the car and clean the interior. Find a location where you can walk around to get shots from every angle.

It’s best to shoot shortly after sunrise or a little before sunset. Otherwise, shoot when there’s a cloud cover.

Bright sunlight makes hard shadows that distort the image. It also makes the colors look wrong.

Take photos from several angles.

Front and rear
Both sides
Angle view front left and front right
Angle view rear left and right
Overhead view. You may need to stand on a ladder.
Get some close-ups.

Each wheel
Headlights on both sides
Taillights on both sides
Get lots of Interior shots as well.

Instrument panel
Shift terminal
Media display
If your car has damage or defects, get shots of those as well. Your prospects will appreciate that you revealed them from the start.

Write the Ad Right

Who is your target audience?

People who want to buy what you’re selling
People willing to pay what you want for it

The Ad Title

The title is the most important part of the ad.

Many buyers search by title only
It’s what people read first
People decide whether to keep reading from the headline

It doesn’t have to be hall of fame material, but it does need to get your target audience’s attention.

So you need to include attention-getting details in the title.

Let’s say you’re selling a Ford Explorer. You write a headline that looks like this:

2019 Ford Explorer For Sale

Whose attention will you get?

People who like Fords
People looking for a Ford Explorer
People looking for a late model auto
People looking for an SUV
Try this headline instead:

2019 Ford Explorer XLT - Seats 7, Garage Kept, Maint Records, 1 owner, Navigation, Heated Seats, Remote Start, 8,940 Miles

Now you have the attention of more prospects:
People with large families
Other people who carry lots of passengers
People looking for a low-mileage, well-kept vehicle
People who want a navigation system
People who want to warm up/cool down the inside of the vehicle before getting in to drive
You don’t pay by the word for Craigslist, so it makes sense to use all the space you can. You may have noticed that “Maintenance” is abbreviated. If you need to, abbreviate so you can include more features in the ad title.

The Ad Body

You can highlight some of your car’s best features in the title. The body is where you add more detail.

What’s really important is to make the ad easy to read. If it takes too much effort for people to read your ad, they won’t.

Don’t write an 800-word ad with all the text in one paragraph. When people see a big block of ink, they instantly think, “This is gonna take a lot of brain calories.”

But if your paragraphs are short, it makes the ad more inviting.

And it makes it easy to scan. A lot of people like to scan reading material to get an idea of what’s in there. Then they can decide if they want to commit to reading the whole thing.

Use all caps to emphasize certain words and phrases. DON’T WRITE THE ENTIRE AD IN CAPS.

You may have heard that all caps make people think you’re shouting at them and blah, blah, blah…

But the real reason is readability. Compare these ads:


Do you see how it forms a rectangular pattern? That’s a bit harsh on the eyes.

Now, look at this version:

One owner 2017 Nissan Sentra. Gets 37 mpg highway.

Front-wheel drive. 4 cylinder gas engine with continuously variable automatic transmission.

Gunmetal exterior color (medium gray), charcoal interior (dark gray). PREMIUM SPORT CLOTH SEATS HAVE NO TEARS OR HOLES.

AM/FM, Sirius XM, CD player.

Steering wheel mounted audio controls. Rear parking camera. Remote keyless entry.

The upper and lower case combo breaks up the pattern, making it easier to read. The second version also adds white space for even easier reading.

You can see how the seller uses caps to highlight that the premium cloth seats are in good condition.

A Bonus Hack

Did you know that you can write craigslist ads in HTML? That means you can format the ad like a web landing page.

You don’t need to know code if you have access to an HTML editor. Here is a free HTML editor specifically designed for Craigslist:
 Image highlighting Buying Car Privately by PrivateAuto

How To Connect With Buyers On Craigslist

A problem with putting your contact info in a craigslist ad is that it attracts scammers. A lot of them use robots to collect your data.

Next thing you know, you get an email from a stranger who says that he’s overseas and is about to be discharged from the military. He wants to buy your car and asks for your bank account info so he can wire you the money.

There are some tricks Craigslist users know to fool the scambots.

Spell out one or more numbers in your phone number: (213) 55five-8727
Replace the @ in your email address with another symbol or spell it out:; JoeSmith at
That won’t weed out all scammers, just the ones that use bots to target their victims.

And you’ll get people who aren’t serious about buying your car. You shouldn’t have to waste your time with tire-kickers.

But you need potential buyers to contact you, right?

That’s why PrivateAuto lets you communicate with potential buyers without giving away your contact info.

Send and receive messages on the platform.
Buyers can make offers. You can reject the ones you don’t want and keep others in play until you accept the one you do want.
Set up test drives and inspections from the app.

1. Type 2. Open another tab or window in your browser and go to your PrivateAuto listing.
3. Copy the address from the address bar at the top of the browser. You can right-click and select copy or use Control+c (Command+c if you’re a Mac user).
4. Go back to you Craigslist ad and paste the address after
5. After the web address, type “>Contact Seller
The full code should look something like this:

Contact Seller

We suggested “Contact Seller” for your call to action (CTA). You can replace it with another CTA if you want. For example, “Learn More” or “Make Offer.”

The ad will show the CTA without the web address. Clicking on it will take the prospect to your PrivateAuto listing. From there, they can select “Make Offer” or “Contact Seller” buttons.

Or you can use an HTML editor to create your listing. Here’s the link to the free Craigslist editor again:

Final Thoughts

Listing your used car on Craigslist can bring you a lot of offers. It’s a popular ad site, and you can target local used car shoppers.

Include lots of photos in your ad. Get shots from several angles and include interior shots.

If your car has a lot of features, put them in the ad title. You don’t pay a per word rate, so make the most of the space you have.

Make the body of your ad easy to read. Keep paragraphs short and leave white space between them.

Add a link to your PrivateAuto listing to your ad. That way buyers can take advantage of the handy features.

Communicate without sharing private info.
Set up a test drive and inspection from the platform.
Make an offer.
When you sell your used car, PrivateAuto makes it easy. A lot of sellers list their cars on Craigslist and you should too. When it comes time to negotiate and complete the sale, use PrivateA