December 22

The Best Car Colors for Resale

Last Updated on December 22, 2022

When purchasing a car, how important is the car’s color to you? Do you think about how the car’s color will affect its resale value or how the color will affect cleaning and maintenance? What about how car color can improve road safety? If you’re in the market for buying and reselling cars then you should know the best car colors for resale.

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There are numerous motivations for choosing a car color. 

  • Personal taste is probably the most obvious reason. You like some colors and don’t like others. Most people want a car they believe looks good and reflects their personality. 
  • Cleaning and body maintenance are affected by color too. Grays and silvers hide dirt really well, so they appear cleaner longer and require less car washes. Lighter colors, including white, generally hide dirt and scratches better than darker colors. Metallic colors also reveal dirt and scratches more compared to lighter colors, so car bodies with a metallic or dark color require regular cleaning and frequent minor body repair. 
  • The temperature of your car is also affected by color. Darker colors absorb heat better than lighter colors. Dark cars parked in direct sunlight on a hot day can heat to temperatures that injure people. They can also heat the ambient temperature inside the cab, resulting in greater climate control use which increases fuel usage. For these reasons, more lighter-colored cars are sold in southern states. 
  • Some colors have a positive effect on resale value, while others have a negative effect or none at all. In fact, color can affect how much someone is willing to pay for your vehicle by more than 20 percent! 

Color associations 

Each color offers its own unique set of character traits and associations.

  • White is associated with purity, cleanliness, simplicity, and perfection. As previously mentioned, it reflects heat and hides scratches. But mud is more obvious on white vehicles. White cars tend to look newer, longer and have a 12 percent decreased chance of getting into an accident compared to a vehicle painted black regardless of weather and lighting. 
  • Black is associated with power, sophistication, authority, and elegance. Many people love the sleek black for these reasons and its aesthetics, but when black cars aren’t newly washed, they don’t look so sleek or amazing anymore. Black shows dirt more than other colors and fades quicker than other colors. This is all why black vehicles can be expensive to maintain.
  • Gray is associated with compromise, control, conservatism, and calm. Vehicles painted gray are the easiest to clean and appear cleaner longer.
  • Silver combines a popular color—gray—with metallic colors. Cars in this hue are easier to keep looking cleaner longer.
  • Yellow is associated with happiness, cheerfulness, energy, and fun. This is probably one of the reasons why manufacturers choose the color for sports cars and muscle cars. The color really stands out on roads and highways so vehicles painted yellow get involved in less collisions. But yellow cars easily hide mud spots.
  • Orange is associated with optimism, freedom, enthusiasm, and pleasure. Manufacturers often choose orange for muscle cars and luxury vehicles. This color is similar to yellow in how it reveals mud and how it gets noticed by other drivers often, which is why orange cars tend to be involved in less accidents. 
  • Red is associated with passion, adventure, energy, and strength. Bright reds are characteristic of a fun personality. Deeper metallic reds are characteristic of luxury, so manufacturers paint their sports cars and some higher-end cars red. This flashy color tends to hide mud easier than others but the exterior becomes dull if dirty. Similar to black, red requires a lot of care. It also gets noticed on roads and highways, and thus, gets into less collisions but other drivers aren’t the only ones noticing red cars. Police officers notice red cars more often too and that’s why drivers of red vehicles get ticketed disproportionately higher than any other color.
  • Purple is associated with royalty, status, power, and ambition. Purple cars tend to be darker in color and require a lot of care due to mud and scratches showing easily. 
  • Blue is associated with purpose, trust, power, and success. Blue is another color that is harder to keep clean, especially darker blues. They reveal water spots, swirl marks, and scratches. 
  • Green is associated with nature, health, luck, and prosperity. Green is relatively easy to keep looking clean and doesn’t easily reveal scratches.

Depreciation by color

The color of the exterior paint on a vehicle can have a large influence over how much that vehicle depreciates. 

iSeeCars.com analyzed over 650,000 used model year 2019 cars sold between August 2021 and May 2022 to determine the depreciation rate for each color. Here is how much cars of a certain color depreciated over a three-year period:

  1. Yellow (20.4%)
  2. Beige (22.8%)
  3. Orange (27.1%)
  4. Green (31.3%)
  5. Gray (36.4%)
  6. Red (36.9%)
  7. Blue (37%)
  8. Silver (37.6%)
  9. White (38%)
  10. Black (38.4%)
  11. Purple (41.2%)
  12. Brown (42.1%)
  13. Gold  (45.6%)

Vehicles painted yellow retain their value the longest. They depreciate by the smallest percentage (20.4%), which is less than half the depreciation rate of the three colors at the bottom—purple (41.2%), brown (42.1%), and gold (45.6%).

According to these numbers a $40,000 car painted yellow will be worth $31,840, while the same car painted blue would be worth $25,200, and the same car painted gold would be worth only $21,760. However, there are other factors at play.

Supply and demand is a key influencer over car depreciation rates by color. Some colors are more rare in the new car marketplace, so they’re even more rare in the used car market place. This means customers are willing to pay a premium. Although, the rarity of a car color doesn’t fully determine depreciation rates. 

The three paint colors with the highest depreciation rates—purple, brown, and gold—also have low market share, and depreciate far worse than average. When a color doesn’t resonate with enough used car shoppers it will hurt resale value, even if that color is rare.

Color trends can obscure market prices. What’s en vogue today may not be appreciated a few years from now. 

For this reason, purchasing a car painted a popular color, such as black, white, or gray, would be a safer resale due to the high demand for vehicles in these colors. Approximately one quarter of all cars, trucks, and SUVs are white, followed closely by black, gray, and silver.

It’s important to note the type of car when examining depreciation rates by car color. Cars painted yellow, orange, and red—three of the colors with the lowest appreciation rates—tend to be used on low-volume vehicles, such as sports cars and muscle cars. These tend to hold their value better than other car types. And owners of these vehicles tend to maintain their vehicles better than many other car owners.  

A yellow-painted SUV probably won’t hold its value as well as an SUV painted one of the popular colors or as well as a yellow-painted sports car. 

Most popular colors

According to AutoList, the most popular colors for cars in order are:

  • White (23.9%)
  • Black (23.2%)
  • Gray (15.5%)
  • Silver (14.5%)
  • Red (10.3%)
  • Blue (9.0%)
  • Brown (1.4%)
  • Green (0.7%)
  • Beige (0.4%)
  • Orange (0.4%)

The color that depreciates at the lowest rate—yellow—isn’t even in the top 10 car colors. Less than 0.4 percent of all cars are painted yellow, which shows the rarity of the color. 

Black and white flip flop between first and second place and are heavily influenced by region (north/south). 

One other factor that influences the popularity of a color is car type. 

Color and body type 

The above aggregated percentages don’t show how popular a color is by car type, so below are lists of the top colors by such categories.

SUVs:

  1. Gray (25%)
  2. White (24%)
  3. Black (18.5%)
  4. Silver (11%)
  5. Blue (10%)
  6. Red (7.5%)
  7. Green (2.5%)

Gray is the most common color for one of the most common car types. It’s easy to keep looking clean, and white is second on the list, just one percentage behind. All other colors are down a few percentage points compared to their overall percentages, except blue (+1%) and green (+1.8%).

Sedans, wagons, and hatchbacks: 

  1. White (21.5%)
  2. Gray (20.5%)
  3. Black, Blue (tied at 17%)
  4. Silver (16.5%)
  5. Red (5%)
  6. Gold (2%)

Although common colors dominate the top of the list, this car category embraces some bolder colors, such as red, gold, and orange—which is next on the list at 0.5 percent.

Compact cars:

  1. White (25%)
  2. Blue (21.5%)
  3. Gray (18.5%)
  4. Black (13%)
  5. Red, Silver (tied at 10%)
  6. Brown, Orange (tied at 1%)

Compact cars can embrace untraditional colors easier than larger vehicles, because looking at a small, sleek, red compact is more appealing than a big, red SUV or truck, which could be more of an eyesore. 

Convertibles, coupes and sports cars:

  1. Black (21%)
  2. Gray (19.5%)
  3. Blue (16%)
  4. White (14.5%)
  5. Red (12%)
  6. Silver (7%)
  7. Orange (4.5%)

White takes a large drop in this category (fourth at 14.5%). Black is the favorite, while blues, reds, and oranges are more popular than other car types. 

Luxury cars

  1. White (31.5%)
  2. Black (25%)
  3. Gray (14%)
  4. Blue (11%)
  5. Silver (10.5%)
  6. Red (5%)
  7. Gold, Green (tied at 1%)

White and black are the top two colors—each higher than their aggregated counterparts. Since a lot of luxury cars are low-volume runs, manufacturers can be braver with their color choices. 

There’s no doubt we have our preferences in car color when we want to own a vehicle, but color takes on a different importance once we get into the business of reselling. Use this information to grow your company or side hustle and make future sales that not only boost income, but attract more clientele. Once you’re ready to find some vehicles to add to your catalog, take a look at what Municibid has to offer through our government surplus of SUVs, sedans, compact cars, and more.


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