How the color of your car affects resale value

A (very) old joke goes: “What do you get if all vehicles in the US are painted white?” Answer: “A white car nation.”

That’s not far off, because around 25 percent of all passenger cars, trucks and SUVs today are actually snow-white, closely followed by vehicles painted black, gray and silver. Accounting for more than three-quarters of all new models sold, this would more accurately constitute a monochromatic carnation nation.

While none of these decisions would tend to have a negative impact on a vehicle’s resale value, they would also do nothing to increase it. Rather, those looking to maximize the value of their road trips should choose something more expressive.

According to a study of over 650,000 used car transactions conducted by used car website iSeeCars.com, a buyer’s color choice can help make or break their returns. In particular, the report noted that yellow-painted vehicles are no lemons when it comes to bringing the money back. Other things being equal, yellow cars were found to lose an average of just 4.5 percent in value over a three-year period of ownership. That is 70 percent less than an average vehicle with a much more neutral paint finish.

Of course, used car values ​​are largely based on condition, location, and the number of miles on a particular model’s odometer. But why do yellow-tinted models tend to dominate the used car market more than those painted in other colors? It’s a simple case of supply and demand. “Yellow is one of the least popular car colors with the lowest proportion of vehicles, and is generally a color for sports cars and other low-volume vehicles that hold their value relatively well,” said iSeeCars Executive Analyst Karl Brauer. “Because yellow vehicles are so new to the used market, people are willing to pay a premium for them.”

On the other hand, not all “unique” colors have a positive impact on the ultimate value of a model. You will achieve the greatest success if you choose a car that is painted brown. How now brown car? On average, it will lose 17.8 percent in value over a three-year period. “Rarity alone does not equal value,” explains Brauer. “If a color doesn’t sell to enough used car buyers, even if it’s unusual, it hurts its resale value.”

At the end of this post, we present the list of 17 above and below average color treatments to preserve value.

According to the iSeeCars report, yellow is the most valuable color among convertibles and SUVs, while orange is best for coupes, beige is best for pickups, and purple, one of the rarest colors in each segment, adds value to sedans the most.

Oddly enough, two of the least flashy (and some say the most offensive) colors – green and brown – record the lowest depreciation rates among three-year-old minivans, with comparable red vans losing significantly more of their original value after three years. Apparently, taste matters (or some might argue a lack of it). “Minivans are a sensible vehicle choice, so buying a color that is less common can make it a more exciting purchase,” says Brauer.

Depreciation of three-year-old vehicles by vehicle color

  1. Yellow (4.5%)
  2. Orange (10.7%)
  3. Purple (13.9%)
  4. Red (14.0%)
  5. Green (14.0%)
  6. Blue (14.3%)
  7. Gray (14.3%)
  8. Beige (14.4%)
  9. Silver (14.8%)
  10. White (15.5%)
  11. Black (16.1%)
  12. Gold (16.7%)
  13. Brown (17.8%)

The average three-year depreciation is 15.0%. Source: iSeeCars.com. You can read the full report here.

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