Tips For Using Photos to Sell Your Car

Beach setting not required

Beach setting not required

If you’ve shopped for a used car, you’re well aware of the difference good photos can make in a classified ad. CarGurus offers free listings, and to take full advantage, sellers should know exactly what buyers are looking for.

In addition to pricing the car right and writing a thorough and accurate description, your photos should tell potential buyers everything they need to know about the car.

Should you take photos in the afternoon sun or early in the morning? Should you show that door ding, or post photos that make the car look better than it is?

Keep reading for the answers.

The Camera


A modern smartphone will suffice for taking photos, but if you have anything older, like an original iPhone or *gasp* a flip-phone, use a point-and-shoot camera instead. Even better, use a DSLR for high-resolution photos.

Tell the Whole Story 


Used-car buyers want to know everything they can about a car before making the purchase. It’s important to capture everything, even dents, spots of rust, and wheels that got a little too close to the curb. A serious buyer is going to eventually see the car, and it’s best to be able to say “There was a photo of this in the ad,” rather than “I forgot about that.”

When to Take Photos

BMW sunrise

Don’t snap photos on your lunch break at work. The afternoon sun will wreak havoc on your pictures with sharp glares, harsh shadows, and a blown-out background. Instead, take your photos early in the morning or late in the evening, just as the sun is rising or setting. This will give a warm glow that will present the car in its best light. Literally.

Specific Photos to Include


Upload the maximum number of photos the site will allow. After washing the car, be sure to take exterior pictures of all angles. Even if you can’t upload all of them, potential buyers may ask that you email them. Take close-ups of the wheels, tire tread, and of any damage to the body. Open the hood and snap a shot of the engine.

On the inside, be sure to remove any trash and personal items. Give the car a vacuum and take photos of the front seats from the driver’s side, then from the passenger side. Take photos of the backseat from up front, and vice versa.

Also, get a photo of just the dash and make sure the odometer is visible.

Honest photos taken in the right light will appeal to the right buyer, make your car look its best, and put a shopper’s mind at ease by showing exactly what he or she should expect.

What do you look for when shopping for a used car?


Find Certified Pre-Owned Cars and Used Cars in your area at CarGurus.

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