“Careful lady owner” is the single phrase most likely to deter readers of used-car ads from buying the car in question, according to a study by Craigslist (www.craigslist.org).

Men find “careful lady owners” almost twice as big a sales turnoff as do women, for whom the most off-putting element of used-car ads are abbreviations like “PAS” and “ABS” (short for Power-Assisted Steering and Anti-Lock Braking System respectively), which they may not understand. Such initials are the second biggest turnoff for people overall.

Both sexes are also put off by such terms as “fully loaded” and “lovely runner.”


“No time-wasters” and “first to see will buy” are the two other used-car ad chestnuts to make the six top turnoffs.

“Certain phrases turn up so often in used-car ads that they have almost become clichés,” says Jim Buckmaster, CEO of Craigslist, which commissioned the survey. “We wanted to find out which of them might by now actually deter prospective buyers. We’re not sure what people have against careful lady owners,” he adds. “But it sounds like such owners should consider another approach, especially if they’re hoping to sell to men.”

Other car-ad clichés that risked doing more harm than good included, “Genuine Reason for Sale,” and “Priced To Sell.”

top 10 turnoffs

  • “Careful Lady Owner”

  • (tie) “PAS,” “ABS” and other technical abbreviations

  • (tie) “Fully Loaded”

  • “No Time-Wasters”

  • (tie) “Lovely Runner”

  • (tie) “First To See Will Buy”

  • “Genuine Reason For Sale”

  • “Priced To Sell”

  • “Price XX, Value YY”

  • “Baby Forces Sale” (Normally for sports cars)

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