A car’s color can help or hurt its resale value, according to a recent analysis by iSeeCars.com. In fact, a vehicle with the highest depreciating color loses nearly four times the value compared to the lowest depreciating vehicle color.
After comparing prices of more than 650,000 recently sold three-year-old used cars, iSeeCars determined the average three-year vehicle depreciation rate by car color.
“A vehicle’s color is among the primary considerations after shoppers have decided on a make and model,” said Karl Brauer, executive analyst at iSeeCars. “With depreciation being the largest cost of vehicle ownership, consumers should carefully consider their color choice – especially if they plan on selling their vehicle.”
Overall, yellow is the vehicle color that holds its value best, depreciating 70% less than the average vehicle, according to the analysis.
“Yellow is among the least popular car colors with the lowest vehicle share and is commonly a color for sports cars and other low-volume vehicles that hold their value relatively well,” said Brauer. “Because yellow vehicles are so novel in the secondhand marketplace, people are willing to pay a premium for them.”
Orange ranks second as the color that holds its value best.
“Like yellow, orange comprises a small overall share of vehicles and 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 and the 2023 Toyota GR86 Special Edition, which are typically limited production vehicles.”
The paint colors with the highest depreciation (gold and brown) also have low market share, but they depreciate far worse than average. “Rarity alone does not equal value,” said Brauer. “If a color doesn’t resonate with enough used car shoppers, it will hurt resale value, even if it’s uncommon.”
White, black, gray, and silver are the most popular car colors and depreciate at a rate close to average.
“Many consumers choose these grayscale colors not because they like them, but because they assume everyone else does,” said Brauer. “Because these are the most common colors, they aren’t in short supply, and choosing these colors won’t help or hurt resale value much.”
Beige, a relatively uncommon car color, also depreciates at a rate close to average, while four jewel tones (purple, red, green, and blue) hold their value better than average.
“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,” said Brauer. “Red, green, and blue fare slightly better than average because they are slightly more novel than grayscale colors and allow drivers to stand out without having to choose a flashy, obscure color.”
Colors by Vehicle Type
When examining the SUV segment, iSeeCars found that the color that holds its value best is yellow while beige depreciates the most. Like the overall list of colors across all vehicle types, flashy, uncommon colors are the lowest-depreciating colors for SUVs, with yellow SUVs actually appreciating in value after three years and orange and green having the lowest depreciation.
For pickup trucks, beige retains value the best while brown depreciates the most. All pickup truck colors depreciate less than the average vehicle given the popularity of trucks, and beige is the color with the lowest depreciation. The next lowest-depreciating pickup truck color is orange.
Purple holds its value the best in the sedan segment, while black is the highest depreciating. After purple, red is the lowest-depreciating color for sedans. “This again proves that even in a relatively conservative vehicle segment there’s enough demand for flashier colors to give purple and red an advantage in resale value,” said Brauer.
For convertibles, bright colors retain the most value while neutral colors depreciate the most. Yellow is the lowest-depreciating color for convertibles, a category that holds its value relatively well due to its low production volumes. “Within this category, yellow is the best color for retained value, likely because it's common for Porsche models and the Chevrolet Corvette, which all hold their value well,” said Brauer.
Conversely, the common grayscale colors have the highest depreciation within the convertible segment. “People who buy sports cars want to stand out, which makes more common colors less appealing,” said Brauer.
As a segment, coupes across all colors hold their value better than the average vehicle. “Coupes are most often purchased rather than leased because they attract car enthusiasts who want to keep them,” said Brauer. “As a result, the supply is low and the demand is high for used versions, with all colors depreciating less than the average vehicle.”
Orange, which is a common color for sports cars and muscle cars, is the lowest-depreciating color for coupes. “Classic American sports cars that hold their value well including the Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang, and Chevrolet Corvette comprise the majority of the overall share of orange coupes,” said Brauer.
In the minivan category, blue is the lowest depreciating color while brown depreciates the most. As a whole, minivans depreciate more than the average vehicle. Green is the lowest-depreciating color for the segment. “Minivans are a sensible vehicle choice, so purchasing a less-common color can make it a more exciting purchase,” said Brauer.