A new study shows how a car’s color makes a difference in how quickly it loses value, with the highest depreciating color losing more than twice the value as the lowest.
The iSeeCars study compared prices of more than 6 million new and used cars between 2017 to 2020 to determine which colors help, hurt, or have minimal impact on a vehicle’s resale value for drivers in the Sacramento, Stockton and Modesto metropolitan area.
The study analyzed all segments of vehicles, including SUVs, pickups, convertibles, coupes, sedans and minivans.
Some key findings:
▪ Popular colors: (white, black and silver) have minimal impact and won’t help or hurt a vehicle’s resale value.
▪ Some of the most beneficial colors for retaining value, including yellow and orange, are not common color choices.
▪ Rarity alone does not determine how much a vehicle depreciates as three paint colors with the highest depreciation—purple, brown, and gold—also have low market share.
“A vehicle’s color is among the primary considerations after shoppers have decided on a make and model,” iSeeCars executive analyst Karl Brauer said in a news release. “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.”
The video above reveals the top 10 colors (red, blue and more) ranked by depreciation.
Mainstream colors — white, black, and silver, for example — are popular because they are seen as the safest colors with the widest appeal, according to iSeeCars.com.
“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, a former executive publisher for Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book. “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.”
Perhaps surprisingly, orange and yellow vehicles retained their value quite well, the study found.
“Like yellow, orange is most often found on low-volume sports and muscle cars,” Brauer said. “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.”
And then, there’s beige. While an uncommon car color, it’s the vehicle shade with the second-lowest depreciation.
“Beige cars also comprise a small vehicle share of less than one percent,” Brauer added. “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.”