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Which Colors Help and Hurt a Car’s Resale Value?

After comparing the prices of more than six million new and used cars between 2017 to 2020, iSeeCars.com has determined which colors help, hurt, or have minimal impact on a vehicle’s resale value. “A vehicle’s color is among the primary considerations after shoppers have decided on a make and model,” said iSeeCars Executive Analyst Karl Brauer. “With resale value being the single biggest factor in how much a new vehicle ‘costs’ over the course of ownership, consumers should carefully consider their color choice.”

Mainstream colors, including white, black, and silver, are popular because they are seen as the safest colors with the widest appeal. But are those the best colors for helping a vehicle maintain its value? “There’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy going on here, with many consumers picking these mainstream colors not because they like them, but because they assume everyone else does,” said Brauer. “This makes white, black, and silver appear to be in high demand, yet our analysis confirms that more obscure colors tend to hold their value better than common and popular colors.” 

Vehicle Depreciation by Car Color – iSeeCars
RankColorAvg Price NewAvg Price Used3-year % DepreciationCompared to Overall
Overall Average$37,144$23,18737.6%

Overall, yellow is the vehicle color that holds its value best, depreciating 45.6 percent less than the average vehicle. “Yellow may not be a widely desired car color, but there are enough people who want yellow, versus the number of yellow new cars being ordered, to make yellow cars more desirable than others on the used market,” said Brauer. “In fact, yellow is among the colors with the lowest vehicle share, and is most commonly a color for sports cars and other low-volume vehicles that hold their value relatively well.” 

The same holds true for orange, which ranks third and also comprises a small overall share of vehicles. “Like yellow, orange is most often found on low-volume sports and muscle cars,” said Brauer. “Orange is such a novel color that it is often the choice for popular special edition vehicles, like the 30th edition Mazda MX-5 Miata, which are typically limited production vehicles.” 

Beige, also an uncommon car color, is the vehicle color with the second-lowest depreciation. “Beige cars also comprise a small vehicle share of less than one percent,” said Brauer. “Although the term ‘beige’ has become synonymous with boring, it encompasses a spectrum of hues from off-white to a light brown and stands out in a parking lot while still being a neutral color.” 

However, rarity alone does not determine how much a vehicle depreciates. The three paint colors with the highest depreciation—purple, brown, and gold—also have low market share, but depreciate far worse than average. “Rarity alone does not equal value. If a color doesn’t resonate with enough used car shoppers it will hurt resale value, even if it’s uncommon,” said  Brauer.

The most common car colors–black, white, silver, gray, red, and blue–are all close to average in terms of depreciation. “Because there are so many of these vehicles in the used car marketplace, buyers can shop around more easily if they’re interested in these colors, reducing the amount of pricing power for dealers,” said Brauer. “This means black, white, and silver are the safe colors to buy if you’re satisfied with average value retention, but not if you’re trying to do better than average.” (MORE FROM ISEECARS.COM)

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