How to Write Effective Vehicle Descriptions

March 30, 2020




How to Write Effective Vehicle Descriptions

ACV facts & figures

No items found.

What’s the first thing buyers do when they decide it’s time to purchase a vehicle? Nine times out of ten they start looking online. Once buyers decide on the make and model of a vehicle they want to purchase, their attention turns to finding vehicles that are for sale. That’s when they start reading vehicle descriptions.

When selling a car, the description can determine whether or not a buyer takes the next step in the purchasing process and comes down to the dealership for a closer look. Today, a compelling vehicle description is what initially sells the car. The 2019 Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey Study found that buyers are increasingly making more decisions based on online research before visiting dealerships. As a result, buyers are visiting fewer dealerships but are more likely to buy once they test drive.

If you want to be the dealership that buyers visit, you need to write great vehicle descriptions that get them through the door. Luckily, there are techniques that you can use to quickly and easily write effective vehicle descriptions.

Tips for Writing Vehicle Descriptions

You can spend money on ads and marketing, but if the vehicle description isn’t compelling, it’s money that isn’t well-spent. The tips below will help you attract the best buyers with well-written car descriptions.

  • Always be 100% honest.
  • Know your target market. For instance, if you're planning to sell cars to first-time buyers, it would be wise to highlight the fact that certain vehicle types are some of the best cars for teens.
  • Use verbiage that describes the target market.
  • Highlight important details about the car’s condition, citing the vehicle’s history report
  • Describe how the vehicle looks and runs.
  • Prioritize the features.
  • Make sure to mention upgrades.
  • Make the car description easy to read.
  • Provide details without being longwinded.
  • Pretend you’re talking to someone about the vehicle.
  • Tell the vehicle’s story.
  • Avoid using passive words.
  • Avoid using industry jargon.
  • Use buzz words that buyers understand.
  • Always edit what you’ve written.
  • Read it out loud to improve readability online.

Always be 100% honest. Bait and switch tactics might get a buyer to the dealership, but they won’t help you sell a vehicle. At the end of the day, sales are what actually matter. You need to be able to back up every claim in the description.

Know your target market. Who is it that’s most likely to be interested in the type of a vehicle you’re selling? What kind of lifestyle do they lead? What matters most to them about a vehicle? What features attract them to a specific make/model? The answers to these questions will help you write for the buyers who are interested in what you’re selling.

Use verbiage that describes the target market. Directly mentioning a type of buyer in the description can be highly effective. An example would be stating that a van is a “safe and comfortable option for families.”

Highlight important details about the vehicle’s history. These are the key details that many buyers want to know before they seriously consider purchasing a vehicle. You can also provide buyers with vehicle history reports from Carfax or True360. The most important vehicle history information to use in the description includes:

  • The number of previous owners
  • If the vehicle has been in an accident
  • The service records
  • Any and all replacement parts

Describe how the vehicle looks and runs. Two things every buyer wants to know is how a vehicle looks and runs. If a car looks and runs great, make sure it’s detailed in the description.

Prioritize the features. List the most important features first, where they are most likely to be read, to entice the buyer to keep reading. If a vehicle description doesn’t get a buyer’s attention in the first few seconds, they’ll move on to the next listing.

Make sure to mention upgrades. Factory and after-market upgrades help differentiate a vehicle from the competition and can increase the perceived value.

Make the car description easy to read. Buyers tend to scan information online rather than read everything word for word. That’s why bullet lists and short paragraphs with just a few sentences are ideal.

Provide details without being longwinded. The best car descriptions give buyers key details without unnecessary information that can distract or bore the reader. Long descriptions can also turn off some buyers that are looking for a quick read. Stick to describing the vehicle and avoid unnecessary wordiness. A maximum of three paragraphs (one for general information, one for the exterior and one for the interior) is a good rule of thumb.

Pretend you’re talking to someone about the vehicle. A trick for creating effective vehicle descriptions is to write like you talk. Pretend that you are answering a call from an interested buyer and record yourself describing the vehicle. Turn those talking points into a conversational written description.

Tell the vehicle’s story. Use the description to tell the story of the vehicle. Stories capture people’s attention and paint a vivid picture that gets their attention.

Avoid using passive words. Passive words like “could” and “maybe” are weak, and they don’t get buyers excited.

Avoid using industry jargon. Vehicle descriptions are speaking to buyers, not dealers (even when you’re selling wholesale to dealers, they’re still buyers). Save the dry, formal industry jargon for research reports.

Use buzzwords that buyers understand. Buzzwords that buyers recognize are the exact opposite of industry jargon. Phrases like “fuel-efficient”, “navigation system” and “single owner” will stand out and get attention.

Always edit what you’ve written. The first draft may look great at first glance, but it’s always important to do at least one round of editing to cut out unnecessary information and correct errors. It may help to have one or two people read the draft and provide feedback before posting.

Read it out loud to improve readability online. One easy way to make sure your car description is readable is to read it out loud. If it’s difficult for you to do, then it’s probably difficult for others to read online.

Vehicle Description Examples

Here are a few excellent vehicle description examples from listings on ACV Auctions. While each car for sale description example is directed at wholesale buyers, the best practices that are used also apply when selling a car on the lot to an everyday buyer.

Vehicle Description Example:
2015 Honda CR-V EX-L
Odometer - 52,315 miles
Fuel Economy - 27.0/34.0 mpg City/Hwy
Exterior Color - Alabaster Silver Metallic
Interior Color - Gray
Body - SUV
Seating - 5 seats
Transmission - Continuously Variable Automatic
Drivetrain - Front-wheel
Engine - 2.4L I-4 cylinder


Leather Upholstery
Automatic Temperature Control
Wireless Phone Connectivity
Exterior Parking Camera Right

Camera Rear
Dual Zone A/C Up Front
Speed-Sensitive Windshield Wipers
Power Moonroof


  • 1-touch down/up windows
  • Power moonroof
  • Power windows
  • Air conditioning
  • Automatic temperature control
  • Front dual zone A/C
  • Remote keyless entry
  • Speed control
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror
  • Driver vanity mirror
  • Front beverage holders
  • Driver door bin
  • Passenger door bin
  • Passenger vanity mirror
  • Overhead console
  • Illuminated entry
  • Rear beverage holders
  • Rear door bins
  • Telescoping steering wheel
  • Tilt steering wheel


  • I-4 cylinder configuration
  • Number of valves: 16
  • Front-wheel drive
  • Engine liters: 2.4
  • Engine location: front
  • Fuel economy city: 27mpg
  • Fuel economy highway: 34mpg
  • Fuel economy combined: 29mpg
  • Fuel tank capacity: 15.3 gallons
  • Horsepower: 185hp @ 6,400RPM
  • Torque: 181 lb.-ft. @ 3,900RPM
  • Continuously variable automatic transmission with mode select
  • Variable valve control
  • Recommended fuel: Regular Unleaded


  • Alloy wheels
  • Four-wheel independent suspension
  • Front anti-roll bar
  • Rear anti-roll bar
  • Wheel size: 17"
  • Low tire pressure warning


  • Approach angle: 28 degrees
  • Departure angle: 21 degrees
  • Ramp breakover angle: 16 degrees
  • Maximum ground clearance 6.4"


  • 1st row 7” LCD monitor
  • AM/FM radio with SiriusXM
  • CD player
  • MP3 decoder
  • Radio data system
  • 7 Speakers
  • Steering wheel mounted audio controls
  • Bluetooth HandsFreeLink wireless phone connectivity


  • Leather upholstery
  • Front center armrest
  • Power driver seat
  • Power 2-way driver lumbar support
  • Bucket front seats
  • Heated front seats
  • Leather shift knob
  • Split-folding rear seat with center armrest


  • Heated door mirrors
  • Power door mirrors
  • Rear cargo liftgate
  • Roof rack rails only


  • Compression ratio: 11.10 to 1
  • Curb weight: 3,457lbs
  • Engine bore x stroke: 3.43" x 3.90"
  • Engine displacement: 2.4 L
  • Engine horsepower: 185hp @ 6,400RPM
  • Engine torque: 181 lb.-ft. @ 3,900RPM
  • Exterior body width: 71.6"
  • Exterior height: 64.7"
  • Exterior length: 179.4"
  • Front headroom: 38.0"
  • Front hiproom: 54.5"
  • Front legroom: 41.3"
  • Front shoulder room: 58.6"
  • Interior cargo volume: 35 cubic feet
  • Interior maximum cargo volume: 71 cubit feet
  • Passenger volume: 101.5 cubic feet
  • Rear headroom: 38.6"
  • Rear hiproom: 53.1"
  • Rear legroom: 38.3"
  • Rear shoulder room: 56.4"
  • Towing capacity: 1,500lbs
  • Turning radius: 18.7'
  • Wheelbase: 103.1"


  • Compass
  • Delay-off headlights
  • Analog display
  • Read camera for exterior parking
  • Right camera for exterior parking
  • Honda LaneWatch
  • Front fog lights
  • Front reading lights
  • Outside temperature display
  • Rear window defroster
  • Rear window wiper
  • Variably intermittent wipers
  • Speed sensitive wipers
  • Tachometer
  • Trip computer


  • 4-wheel disc brakes
  • ABS brakes
  • Brake Assist
  • Electronic stability
  • Traction control
  • Dual front impact airbags
  • Dual front side impact airbags
  • Occupant sensing airbag
  • Overhead airbag
  • Ignition disabler
  • Panic alarm
  • Security system


Clean, One Owner!
This CR-V EX-L has tons of extras and advanced features like hands-free Bluetooth, sunroof/moonroof and a rearview camera. Leather upholstery and expertly appointed cabin gives this compact SUV an upscale feel. Only one owner with a super clean Carfax. New tires just installed!


  • 182 Point Inspection
  • Roadside Assistance for the duration of the Certified Pre-Owned Limited Warranty.
  • Powertrain Limited Warranty: 84 Month/100,000 Mile (whichever comes first) from original in-service date
  • Transferable Warranty

2015 Brand Image Award
2016 Kelley Blue Book Brand Image Award
U.S. News 2015 Best Compact SUV for the Money
2015 CR-V was named 2015 Best Compact SUV for Families by U.S. News
15 Best Family Cars of 2015 by Kelley Blue Book
Kelly Blue Book 2015 Top 10 list of Best Resale Value Award Winners
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick+

Sign up for a free ACV account to take advantage of our industry leading condition reports and robust vehicle descriptions.