Why It’s Important for Dealers to Photograph Blemishes on Reconditioned Vehicles

Why It’s Important to Photograph Blemishes on Reconditioned Vehicles

Whether the reconditioned vehicle has scrapes, dents and scratches on the exterior, or even wear and tear with the interior, it’s important for dealership photographer vendors to be transparent and offer to display features of these blemishes on the dealership’s online vehicle detail page (VDP) to ultimately help the customer make an informed buying decision.

By Louis Norman III, the director of operations of Dealer Image Pro

Due to low supply of new vehicles, used or reconditioned vehicles have seen increased demand since December 2019, with prices rising by 42%[1] during that time. As this demand is expected to continue into 2023, one practice that many dealers do not realize, which greatly influences the consumer buying decision, is showing the blemishes that come with these vehicles, especially in today’s growing online retailing landscape.

Whether the reconditioned vehicle has scrapes, dents and scratches on the exterior, or even wear and tear with the interior, it’s important for dealership photographer vendors to be transparent and offer to display features of these blemishes on the dealership’s online vehicle detail page (VDP) to ultimately help the customer make an informed buying decision.

Transparency Is Key

While it’s obvious that reconditioned vehicles aren’t going to look as perfect as new vehicles, dealership photographer vendors have the capabilities to give a dealership complete transparency with customers by photographing all imperfections on the reconditioned vehicle. This can be done through an image viewer and an imperfections tab offered by leading dealership photography vendor applications.

Just by showing reconditioned vehicle blemishes, the dealership not only protects its reputation but also increases customer loyalty. Despite these blemishes most likely lowering the vehicle’s value, the tradeoff is that the dealer is gaining the trust of the customer, as they ultimately make their buying decision on the vehicle.

Even though dealers have asked about “photoshopping” or “retouching” the vehicle blemishes before reconditioning occurs, this ultimately screams false advertising to the customer. As a result, pivoting toward photographing all reconditioned vehicle blemishes provides complete transparency and there are different strategies when shooting to examine.

Strategies to Shoot Reconditioned Vehicles

With 78% of consumers expressing satisfaction when buying a vehicle online, according to an industry survey from Progressive early this year[2], showing the blemishes of the reconditioned vehicles helps the consumer feel more comfortable throughout the entire browsing experience. By being able to see any imperfections of the vehicle, the customer feels reassured that the dealership isn’t trying to hide the blemishes if they come to see the vehicle in person.

The major strategy dealership photographers should utilize when shooting reconditioned vehicles is taking the blemish photos from multiple angles to show the vehicle’s overall condition. Consistent imaging across the VDP is a large factor when looking into customers’ buying decisions and will ultimately help increase the customer’s trust in the dealership.

For example, if a photographer is going to take multiple shots of a scratch on the driver-side door, it is best to show the whole length of the door versus only the part where the scratch may appear.

In contrast with new vehicles, reconditioned vehicles simply can’t be manipulated, in which stock photos will not suffice in order to view the vehicle’s full condition. However, there are certain areas on a new vehicle that you do not have to photograph, such as the tire tread.

Photographing vehicles that have the visual mindset to signal that the vehicle is actually being offered how it appears in person gives the savvy car buyer peace of mind, knowing that the dealership doesn’t have a problem with baiting and switching.


Louis Norman III is the director of operations of Dealer Image Pro, a professional photo, video and 360 software company based in California. Now integrated with Rapid Recon, Dealer Image Pro helps hundreds of used dealers streamline the reconditioning process by taking their merchandising in-house; providing the equipment, unlimited training, professional editing, and quality control for all dealers they work with. They are experts in in-house merchandising and studio design for auto dealers. For more information visit https://www.dealerimagepro.com/


[1] https://cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/when-will-used-car-prices-go-down

[2] https://www.progressive.com/resources/insights/online-car-buying-trends/

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