Advanced Craigslist Search and How to Use Them

How to use Craigslist’s advanced tools to find the exact car you are seeking.

Craigslist is a search engine and like Google. There are some advanced features that make finding exactly what you are looking for much easier. Below are the common tools that you can use to make your Craigslist searches more specific. These tools help you zero in on an exact vehicle or less specific or broaden your search.

The Advanced Tools of the Trade

Keyword Name Description
Star Sign Used to Expand a search for things like misspellings
Minus Sign Used to Reduce a search to hide things like “Automatic Transmissions”
| Vertical Bar Used to create “this or that” statements
( ) Parentheses Used to group keywords like (V70 R)
” “ Quotation Marks Used to create exact phrases like “Austin Healey” as opposed to “Austin”

For example if you are trying to search for all manual-transmission cars under $500. This is a very broad search that you will use the ‘*’ (Star) to search everything and then use the price range to narrow into exactly what you are searching for. How would this look?

You could just search using the following:

  • Price Range: $0-500
  • Search Query: *

  1. We’ve set the price range to include vehicles that have a $0 dollar in their listing, this will return unfortunately lots of results because advertisers will often not list a price in their ads wanting you to call them to get the price. So we want to change this to something like $100 and update the range to $100-500
  2. Next we’ve created our first wildcard query using the ‘’ character. This means search everything. Good job but it still returns results that may have an ad that includes “automatic transmission” vehicles. We want to update this as well to remove (or negate) those search results like this, “ -automatic”. This is a good next step but there are still results coming back for cars where the advertiser listed “auto” instead of the full word, “automatic”. To do this we use the ‘’ character, this allows us to remove both “auto” and “automatic” words from our search results. The updated search query looks like this: “ -auto*”

In this next example we want to find some Porsche 911’s but not just any 911, we want to find Coupe bodied, rear-wheel-drive, manual transmission, non-Turbo cars. This is harder than it sounds because there were many variants of 911 throughout the years, there was the Targa, Cabriolet (aka Convertible), Speedster and Coupe. Many people when listing their ads will include these keywords but spell them incorrectly, we can use wildcards and negation to clean up the results.

To get started

Porsches over the years have had a couple marketing names for the 911’s so we will start with that.

Search Query: “911 Carrera”

We used a vertical-bar between 911 and Carrera. !(See)[/assets/faq/keyboard.png] this where you find this character on the keyboard. The vertical-bar simply means, “show me either 911 or Carrera are listed in the advertisement”.

Now we want to start tackling the ads we do not want to see. Lets start by removing the “Turbo” cars by adding a “- turbo” keyword to the search query.

Search Query: “911 Carrera -Turbo”

Next let’s remove the body variants that we are not interested in:

Search Query: “911 Carrera -Turbo -Targ* -Cab* -Conv*”

You’ll see that now we have removed the Targas (and all the misspelled variations on the word Targa like “Targe”) and the convertible/cabriolet variants and their misspellings).

So what about our initial requirement to only find “Rear-Wheel-Drive” cars? Again we use our knowledge of Porsches to setup a negation for the Carrera 4S cars.

The Best Query For Advanced Searching on Craigslist

Search Query: “911 Carrera -Turbo -Targ* -Cab* -Conv* -*4S”

This time around we used both a ‘*’ and a negation to hide all search results that have words ending with “4S” this is because some people will list their cars as “C4S”, “Carrera 4S”, “Carrera4S” or something else, but they tend to get the “4S” part right.

So there you have it, we are now only searching for cars that are RWD, Coupe, Manual Transmission and non-Turbo cars. We hope this helps if you have questions, please leave them in the comments section below. And if you’d like one-on-one help, join our Slack Channel and send us a message.

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