Showcasing Your Car to Sell

Showcasing your car to sell is similar to staging a house to sell. Both require time, effort and a little bit of budgeting. If you do it right, it is certainly all worth it.

Making the decision to sell your car gives you all of the feels. For some, it is the beginning of a new chapter and for others it may be the sign of one coming to an end. Either way, it is the start of a stressful process that quickly goes from exciting to overwhelming. If you want to sell within your ideal timeframe and make a reasonable profit, it is in your best interest to put some elbow grease in. You need to show buyers just how great your car is. There is a real skill to capturing the perfect photos of your car. The specific ways you choose to showcase your car sends messages to potential buyers for better, or for worse.

By following these simple tips, you will be well on your way to amazing results.

Tip #1 – Clean your car inside and out

If your car is spotless and tidy, potential buyers will know that you are the real deal. It will show them you have taken good care of your car and that they deserve the best (and let’s be real, who wouldn’t to feel like that?) Get all up in the nooks and crannies. There are plenty of affordable supplies that will go a long way: spray bottles, a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, plastic buckets and microfiber towels. Keep Q-tips to wipe small dust and dirt if you plan to show off your engine in photos. Getting your car detailed is another great option. For around $75-$150, shops will wash, wax, vacuum and shine your car in a couple of hours.

Tip #2 – Fix what makes financial sense

This is one of the more subjective aspects of showcasing your car to sell. Even though budgets vary, there are some general things you should prioritize. First, replace your floor mats. This is one simple task that will boost your car’s appeal, especially in photos. Second, it behooves you to have your car serviced and that the oil change is up-to-date in. This way, you car will run it’s best if someone wants to take your car for a test drive. Other possible fixes include windshield chips, small dents and touch-up paint.

Tip #3 – Find the right background for photos

Taking photos of your car in a parking garage or parking lot may seem temping, but it is not the most effective way of showcasing your car. You run the risk of catching people in the background or having other cars in the photo. Both are very distracting to someone who is considering buying your car. Consider taking photos in front of a warehouse, up on a hill or on a beachfront. Such places result in fewer photo distractions and nice contrasts.

Tip #4 – Strategize what time to take photos

The golden hour – the period shortly before sunrise or after sunset – has been dubbed the best time to take photos of your car. The lighting is much warmer and really highlights the sleekness of your car. Shooting at night is never ideal, but if you decide that is what works best make sure that it is completely dark out (i.e. avoid streetlights or stoplights). Some suggest using an aperture of f/8 or f/11 and remember that using flash can result in harsh shadows. On the other hand, if you are taking photos in the daytime, always make sure the sun is behind the camera.


Tip #5 – Do not spare any detail in your photos – more is better!


Here is what you want to take photos of:

  • Steering wheel
  • Driver’s seat
  • Gear shifter – shows whether it is an automatic or manual
  • Stereo
  • Sit in the back seat, recline the front seats and take snapshot of the front section of the car


  • Start with one end of the car and work your way around the car taking photos
  • Angles are key – you may want to put the camera down on the ground but also take photos from a higher view of the car
  • Take a glam shot – we’ve all seen these. It’s the photo that is taken at eye-level with the tire. It makes your car look longer, larger and extremely impressive.
  • Are there any unique modifications or features that distinguish your car from the rest (i.e. convertible, one-of-a-kind rims, huge amounts of storage space)? Show them off in photos, don’t be shy.

Other photo advice

  • In terms of composition, think about the rule of thirds.
  • Tripods are very helpful to get consistent shots
  • Experiment with photos of a moving car – To capture images in motion, you’ll need a digital camera – a phone camera won’t achieve the desired effect. Select a shutter speed in the 1/125th range and stand so the car is parallel to your position as it drives past. The driver should drive slowly to make it easier for you to get the shot you want.
  • Color coordinate takes things to the next level – a background that has touch of your car’s pain will create a dramatic effect.


In short, be honest, thorough and professional. Showcasing your car does not have to be complicated or absurdly expensive. Just work smarter, not harder to do the things that will make your car look like a ten. Your efforts will not go unrecognized.

Sell your car for thousands more than Craigslist or the dealer with TRED. Sell my car

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