This is Why the Color of Your Car Matters


A lot of people think the only thing that matters when it comes to the color of the car they drive is whether they like it or not, but the color of your car matters for other reasons and here I’m going to explain why the color of your car matters so much.

The color of a car can have a powerful effect on the resale value in both positive and negative ways, depending on the particular color chosen. Colors such as black, white, silver and gray can all help the potential resale value of a vehicle, but bright, loud and unusual colors like orange, lime green and yellow will have the opposite effect.

What are the most popular car colors?

BASF is one of the biggest coating companies in the world, and a 2019 study carried out by the company revealed that 39 percent of all cars in the world are painted white, while black, gray and silver-painted cars accounted for a further 39 percent of the global market. That means that just 22 percent of cars in the world are anything other than black, white, grey and silver, which should give you something to think about when buying your next car.

Are those four colors the most popular because they are what people like and want, or are they popular because buyers think they are “safe” colors that won’t negatively impact the resale value of the vehicle when they eventually come to sell it? It’s actually a “chicken and egg” sort of question really. A lot of buyers like those colors and then we end up with lots of them in the market. Because there are then lots of them around, everyone assumes they are the colors to have and they then buy them because they hope sticking to those colors will help maintain a good resale value.

White is a massively popular color for vehicles of all types in particularly hot countries in areas of the world like the middle east because it doesn’t absorb heat the way dark colors do. If you want to know more about cars and hot weather I cover it in another article here.

By the way, if you’d like to know about some of the very best products, services and companies I’ve found for buying, selling, and helping with vehicle ownership then please check out my recommended products and services page right here. As well as telling you where to go to get the very lowest prices on new and used vehicles, I also cover finance, insurance, parts, detailing and other stuff too.

Some of the US is obviously pretty warm all year round, but plenty of it isn’t. Even so, US buyers stick pretty closely to the global picture when it comes to the vehicle colors they choose as this 2019 chart from the iSeeCars website illustrates.

RankColor% Share
1.White23.9%
2.Black23.2%
3.Gray15.5%
4.Silver14.5%
5.Red10.3%
6.Blue9.0%
7.Brown1.4%
8.Green0.7%
9.Beige0.4%
10.Orange0.4%
11.Gold0.3%
12.Yellow0.2%
13.Purple0.1%
Figures from iSeeCars.com

If we break it down by state to look at which colors are most popular and which non-grayscale (not white, gray, black or silver) colors are most popular, you’ll see that white is most popular in the hottest states. However, it’s also extremely popular in states like Alaska that are not exactly known for their year-long scorching weather conditions.

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Top Color Top Non-Grayscale Color

STATEColor% ShareColor% Share
AlaskaWhite19.9%Blue12.2%
AlabamaWhite25.4%Red10.7%
ArkansasWhite27.8%Red13.4%
ArizonaWhite27.2%Red10.1%
CaliforniaWhite27.7%Blue7.5%
ColoradoWhite23.3%Red9.7%
ConnecticutBlack24.1%Blue10.7%
DelawareBlack25.1%Blue10.6%
FloridaWhite25.0%Red 10.3%
GeorgiaBlack24.3%Red9.6%
HawaiiWhite28.2%Blue8.1%
IowaBlack23.8%Red13.7%
IdahoWhite26.6%Red11.7%
IllinoisBlack26.1%Red10.7%
IndianaBlack24.5%Red13.2%
KansasWhite24.2%Red12.0%
KentuckyBlack23.8%Red12.0%
LouisianaWhite26.5%Red8.8%
MassachusettsBlack24.8%Blue9.7%
MarylandBlack24.9%Blue10.4%
MaineBlack23.8%Red 11.7%
MichiganBlack26.6%Red12.3%
MinnesotaBlack25.9%Red11.8%
MissouriBlack24.0%Red12.2%
MississippiWhite28.0%Red9.6%
MontanaWhite24.7%Red13.1%
North CarolinaWhite23.8%Red10.1%
North DakotaBlack24.3%Red13.9%
NebraskaWhite24.4%Red13.9%
New HampshireBlack23.4%Blue11.4%
New JerseyBlack25.7%Blue9.0%
New MexicoWhite26.2%Red11.1%
NevadaWhite26.2%Red8.9%
New YorkBlack25.8%Red9.8%
OhioBlack24.5%Red12.4%
OklahomaWhite25.0%Red12.9%
OregonWhite24.5%Red9.5%
PennsylvaniaBlack22.5%Red11.4%
Rhode IslandBlack23.2%Blue9.7%
South CarolinaWhite24.3%Red10.2%
South DakotaWhite23.2%Red14.1%
TennesseeWhite23.4%Red10.5%
TexasWhite25.3%Red10.3%
UtahWhite26.7%Red9.6%
VirginiaBlack23.0%Blue10.4%
VermontBlack22.1%Red13.0%
WashingtonWhite24.0%Blue9.6%
WisconsinBlack26.1%Red13.2%
West VirginiaWhite23.3%Red14.5%
WyomingWhite25.4%Red13.5%
Data from iSeeCars.com

How much does color affect vehicle resale values?

The average depreciation for a new vehicle is around 33.1% over the first three years, but research from iSeeCars reveals that yellow cars only lose 27% of their new value over three years, which is an amazing 18.5% less than the average. We should all go out and buy yellow cars then shouldn’t we? Well, no, not really.

Color3-Year Average % Depreciation% Difference Compared to Average
Yellow27.0%-18.5%
Orange30.6%-7.8%
Green30.9%-6.9%
White32.6%-1.6%
Red32.7%-1.4%
Average Car33.1%——-
Blue33.5%1.0%
Brown33.5%1.1%
Gray33.5%1.2%
Black33.6%1.6%
Silver34.0%2.6%
Beige36.6%10.3%
Purple36.7%10.7%
Gold37.1%12.1%
2019 Figures according to iSeeCars.com

While statistics like those for yellow cars make it look as though you’d be better off financially by getting a new Chevy Suburban in Canary Yellow (if you could), the truth about which car colors hold their value better is a little more nuanced than that.

What those statistics don’t take into consideration are the types of vehicles and how certain colors affect them. Let’s be honest, you’re going to have to try very hard to find buyers for a Canary Yellow or Bright Orange Chevy Suburban, so a black one is going to hold its price much better because more people will be interested in buying it.

On the other hand, a Lamborghini Huracan in Canary Yellow or Bright Orange will probably sell faster than a silver one, but Lamborghini doesn’t sell as many Huracans as Chevy sells Suburbans and that can slant the figures. Statistics can be used to prove just about anything you want if you use them selectively, but when it comes to car colors and resale values there are some colors you simply can’t go wrong with.

It’s hard to make a case for black, or gray hurting the resale value of just about any vehicle you care to mention, and silver and white probably come in close behind. I could have lumped white in with black and gray, but white isn’t as universally popular across the board as black and gray.

Although white is generally an extremely popular color for vehicles as I said at the start of this article, it can be more than a little polarizing when it comes to larger vehicles. It’s not as though you won’t see any white Range Rovers, Escalades and Land Cruisers, but vehicles a big as those really stand out in white and draw a lot of attention. Not everyone wants that sort of attention, and that’s why black, silver and gray are the go-to colors for vehicles like those.

Why black is the best color for most vehicles

If you spend as much time as I did in car dealerships, you’re going to hear more than your share of people being disparaging about black as a vehicle color. Some will say it shows the dirt worse than other colors, some will say it’s a soft paint that easily scratches, some will say it makes the interior too hot in the sun, and some will say it makes some vehicle models look as though they’re owned by gangsters.

All of those arguments are valid, and there’s actually a lot of truth in there too. However, I can tell you from years of experience buying and selling used cars that black is one color that never has a negative effect on the resale value. Yes, you will get the odd person who doesn’t want a black one, but for every person who won’t have black 20 buyers are waiting behind them who will.

Of course, if the black paint is dull or scratched it will have a negative effect on the value, but that goes for any color.

Does the color of a car affect the insurance premium?

The color of your car has no effect on your insurance premium, but the value of the car does. If it’s a new car you’re looking to insure it doesn’t matter at all what color it is, but a black version of a used car might be priced higher than an identical model in green. If you buy the black one your premium might be a little higher, but that’s because of the price of the vehicle due to the color and not the color itself.

Are some cars more likely to be stolen because of their color?

There’s an urban myth that crosses the world that says red cars are more likely to be stolen than cars of any other color, and I was even told this once by a serving police officer. In fact, black, silver and gray cars are more likely to be stolen than red cars for the simple fact there are so many more black, silver and gray cars on the road.

Are red cars more likely to be targeted by police?

You are not more likely to be targeted by the police simply because the car you are driving is painted red. Once again, this is an urban myth that has refused to go away over the decades even though there isn’t a shred of truth to it. If you’re speeding or driving like an idiot in a gray car you’re just as likely to get pulled by the police as you would be driving a red car or one in any other color for that matter.

Are cars in bright colours involved in fewer accidents?

Some people will tell you that bright colored cars are more visible and easier for other drivers to see and are therefore less likely to be involved in accidents. There’s some truth in this, but visibility probably isn’t the issue. It is true that white cars tend to be involved in fewer accidents than other colors, but around 76% of vehicles in America are not white and therefore make up the vast majority and are obviously going to make up the majority of accidents.

Black, silver, grey, and red vehicles are statistically more likely to be involved in accidents, but once again, black, silver and gray covers an extremely large proportion of cars on the road. On the other hand, the percentage of vehicles involved in accidents after dark rockets for black and that does, therefore, indicate that visibility is a factor in some cases.

Does your car color really matter then?

If you’d like my advice, which I hope is at least part of the reason you’re reading this in the first place, I’d say that the color of your car only matters for two reasons. It matters if you are concerned about how much your car will depreciate in value while you have it, and how much you’ll get for it when the time comes to sell. It also matters because a car is the second most expensive thing most of us will ever buy, after a home, so it really is a good idea to like what you’re buying.

2016 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

It’s a balancing act for some people then, so you’ll have to decide whether it’s more important for you to like and admire your expensive purchase or if it’s more important to get the most money possible for it when you eventually come to sell, even if that means living with a color you don’t like.

Personally, I love bright colors on cars. I particularly applaud Dodge for offering such vibrant colors for the Charger and Challenger as it does. I love those cars in Go Mango, Lime Green and Plum Crazy, and one of my favorite Fords is the Focus ST in Orange Fury. On the other hand, would I like a Lincoln Navigator, Range Rover, Cadillac Escalade or Ford Expedition in one of those colors? Absolutely not.

Of course, there is a solution if you want a vehicle in a loud, unique or polarizing color but you’re also extremely concerned about the effect it will have on the eventual resale value. That solution is to lease a car, truck or SUV in the color you like best then it doesn’t matter what effect that color will have on the resale value as that will never be your concern as you’ll just be handing it back at the end of the lease.

Sean Cooper

Former retail auto industry professional for almost a decade and an automotive writer and journalist for the last 8 years

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