The Car Colors That Could Make or Break Resale Value

Everyone wants to end up with a car that lasts for the long haul. However, auto consumers will find that easier said than done. Just when you think you home in on model known for reliability, it could end up on the Consumer Reports worst-of list the following year. Even with so many advances in engineering, automakers still turn out lemons on a regular basis.
Then there are the cars you only plan to own for a few years. In these cases, strong resale value should be a top priority. When looked at vehicles with the worst depreciation in recent years, researchers found a high number of BMW and Mercedes models among them. Luxury cars tended to lose value faster than others.
In a study released October 2017, the iSeeCars team looked at an area most consumers probably ignore: car colors. Compared to the average, vehicles with the top color depreciated 30% less than the worst color after three years of ownership. Over 2 million used car sales over 12 months were considered in this study. Here’s how each of the 13 colors affected resale value, from the most negative impact to the best.

Gold: The worst color for resale value

Gold car
Gold cars are the worst for resale. | typhoonski
  • Depreciation: 37%, 12% worse than average

You don’t see too many gold cars on the road, and that’s a good thing for owners who prioritize resale value. According to data collected for 12 months prior to August 2017, gold vehicles lost an average of 37.1% over three years. Compared to sales of other colors, owners of gold rides lost 12.1% more to depreciation. On the bright side, these cars’ scarcity made for higher demand. They took 34.3 days to sell, two days quicker than the average.

Purple: Nearly the worst

Purple Car
You may like it but prospective buyers don’t. | Sjo/iStock/Getty Images
  • Depreciation: 36.7%, 11% worse than average

Car shoppers who choose purple may end up regretting their purchase when it’s time to sell. iSeeCars data showed a 36.7% depreciation here after three years in an owner’s hands. That figure was 10.7% above the average vehicle. However, it did help with the speed of sales. Purple car owners waited an average of 33.2 days to move their rides, three days faster than normal.

Beige: High depreciation, slow sales

2004 Hyundai Sonata | Hyundai
  • Depreciation: 36.6%, 10% worse than average

Unlike purple or gold, you won’t make up a beige car’s depreciation with a quick sale. Value dropped among the worst at 36.6% after three years. Beige was also the slowest seller on the resale market, taking an average of 46.6 days to find a buyer (10 days slower than usual). If you like this color, find your vehicle and make an offer on a used model. Sellers will be motivated.

Silver in 10th place

Hyundai Tucson
2017 Hyundai Tucson | Hyundai
  • Depreciation: 34%, 2.6% worse than average

While silver cars rated 10th in depreciation after three years (34%), that number was only 2.6% above the average car. In other words, it’s a safe choice for buyers in most segments and always seems to have demand in luxury models. Selling times rated about average as well, with silver vehicles taking two days longer than the typical transaction.

Black: Popular and safe

Rear three-quarter view of black Ford Expedition SUV from 2007 model year
2007 Ford Expedition | Ford
  • Depreciation: 33.6%, 1.6% worse than average

Though the majority of colors showed lower depreciation than black (33.6%) after three years, this popular choice sat just above the average. CEO Phong Ly called it a safe bet. “Because [colors like black] are so common, buyers can shop around more easily if they’re interested in these colors, reducing the amount of pricing power for dealers,” he said. Black car owners took about 36 days to sell, right around the average.

Middle of the pack: Gray, brown, blue, red

Nissan has announced U.S. pricing for the 2018 Nissan LEAF, which goes on sale in early 2018 at LEAF Certified Nissan dealers nationwide. The 2018 LEAF S is priced at just $29,990, which is below the current 2017 LEAF’s starting MSRP.
2018 Nissan Leaf | Nissan
  • Depreciation: 1.4% worse than to 1.4% better than average

In the middle of the pack sat the colors gray, brown, blue, and red. Each color showed about 33% depreciation after three years in an owner’s possession. When it came to selling time on the used market, only red cars showed any real difference. Compared to the average of 36 days for a typical used car sale, red models needed four more days to find a new owner.

White cars steady at No. 4

Mercedes-Benz AMG S63 4MATIC | Mercedes-Benz
  • Depreciation: 32.6%, 1.6% better than average

As with black cars, consumers who choose white won’t face any hassles on the used market. Depreciation was normal at 32.6%, just a shade better than the market average. There was no lag in selling time, either. White models typically found a new garage in 35 days, right in line with the rest of the major car colors.

Green cars in the top 3

Mint green car
Green cars arrive third on the list. | ManuelGonzalezOlaecheaFranco/iStock/Getty Images
  • Depreciation: 31%, 7% better than average

Fewer than 1% of cars end up with green paint-jobs, but these rare birds hold their value better than most of the pack. The iSeeCars study found green vehicles depreciating 31% over three years, some 7% better than average. Even with that lack of demand, there was little lag in their time on the used market. Green cars sold right at the average of 36 days.

Orange ranks at No. 2

Volvo S60
Volvo S60 | Volvo
  • Depreciation: 30.6%, 8% better than average

Another odd color that holds true on resale value is orange. As with green models, orange cars present a more flamboyant image and have solid demand on the secondhand market. Data showed them losing 30.6% of value after three years, an 8% improvement over the average vehicle. Selling times were just above the average at 38.1 days on the used market.

Yellow: Best of the bunch

2018 Lexus LC500 | Lexus
  • Depreciation: 27%, 18.5% better than average

No car color held its value better than yellow, which stood at 27% depreciation after three years, topping the average by 18.5%. “Yellow cars are relatively less common, which could drive up demand and help maintain value,” Phong Ly said. Ly noted the strong resale data for yellow convertibles, pickups, and SUVs in particular.
If there’s one catch here, it would be the longer time it takes to sell these more expensive vehicles. Yellow models typically lasted 41.5 days on the used market, five days longer than average.
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