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What’s the best color for car resale?

minute read

    The type of car you drive may give a little insight into your personality, especially which color you choose to cruise around in (we see you, lime green!). But did you know that the color of your car might also give a little insight into its potential resale value? It's true, and if you're planning to sell your car in the future, you might be curious about which colors hold their values best in the used car market. While there may be no definitive, all-time winning color (as resale values tend to change year after year), there are statistics available that could help paint a clearer picture of which colors tend to come out on top.

    What color of car is the most popular?

    To better understand which is the best car color for resale, you may want to first learn which car colors are the most popular in general, as there may be a relationship between the two (more on that soon). While these numbers are subject to change as the auto market fluctuates, an analysis of 1.4 million used vehicles provides some insight as to what car colors are most commonly seen on the road.

    As of January 2023, the seven most popular car colors accounted for the following percentages of cars on the road:

    1. White: 23.5%
    2. Black: 21.2%
    3. Gray: 16.8%
    4. Silver: 12.9%
    5. Blue: 9.0%
    6. Red: 8.6%
    7. Brown and orange: 2%

    What car color has the best resale value?

    You might assume that the list above tells you all you need to know — just get a white or black car and you’re set, right? Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. The list of the most popular car colors is often a little different from the list of car colors that retain their value best. This is because of the relationship between a car’s value and depreciation.

    What’s depreciation?

    As a quick refresher, depreciation is the gradual decrease in an asset’s value over time. Cars tend to depreciate rapidly during their first few years on the road. The rate at which different cars depreciate tends to vary based on many different factors — including their color.

    The top five car colors with the best resale value

    Some car colors tend to depreciate and lose their resale value quicker than others. The "why” may be explained by a study analyzing the three-year depreciation rate across various car colors which indicated that car colors that are produced in smaller numbers, but remain in demand, may hold on to a higher percentage of their resale value.

    As of June 2023, the car colors that retain a higher resale value are:

    1. Yellow (13.5% value lost over three years)
    2. Orange (18.4% value lost over three years)
    3. Red (20.6% value lost over three years)
    4. White (21.9% value lost over three years)
    5. Blue (22.0% value lost over three years)
    6. Gray (22.5% value lost over three years)
    7. Silver (23.2% value lost over three years)
    8. Black (23.9% value lost over three years)

    These results show that less common car colors tend to hold their value better after three years, and this is where the relationship between the most popular car colors and the best colors for resale value comes into play.

    This may be because buyers searching for a car in a rarer color like yellow typically have a harder time finding it and thus may be willing to pay an additional premium for it. On the other hand, mainstream car colors that carry a higher inventory like white, gray and black may be easier for buyers to find, which could reduce the seller's leverage and possibly lower the resale value of those car colors.

    What color cars are the most expensive to insure?

    Aside from resale value, you might be wondering how your car color might affect the cost of your insurance policy — maybe you’ve heard through the grapevine that certain flashier colors, like “viper red,” may make your policy more expensive. According to the Insurance Information Institute, however, this is a common myth. Although your auto policy does factor in vehicle characteristics like the age of the car or its overall safety rating, it won’t consider cosmetic details like color. That’s great news if you’re shopping for that fiery red car of your dreams!

    It may also be good news if you decide to sell that red car one day, since you now know that red cars will likely have a higher resale value after three years than more commonly seen car colors like grey and black.

    In summary

    While the best car colors for resale value tend to shift year after year, you can typically expect less common colors like yellow, beige and orange to retain their value better. This is likely due to the limited supply of these colors — buyers tend to have thousands of options for black or white used cars, but may have to pay a little more to find a yellow one. So, if someone ever throws shade on your choice of car color, you might use the information above to remind them that sometimes, it pays to be different.

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