How Your Color Choice Impacts Resale Value


Bright hues bring back the most bucks, while subdued shades will cost you down the road.

***Editor’s Note: While this article doesn’t specifically focus on plug-in electric cars, our research indicates that color-related resale values carry over from traditional automobiles into the plug-in segment.

As depreciation is a motorist’s greatest long-term ownership expense, it behooves a new-car buyer to choose a model that best holds onto its original value over time. We’ve compiled lists of vehicles predicted to deliver the best and worst five-year resale values, but how much cash a car will bring at trade-in time is affected by a variety of factors, particularly a vehicle’s condition and the number of miles on the odometer, tempered by local supply and demand issues.


But as it turns out, a vehicle’s color can also affect its resale value under certain circumstances, with yellow cars bringing back the most bucks; that’s according to a study of over 2.1 million used vehicle transactions conducted by the website Lemon-colored rides suffer an average 27% depreciation after three years, which is 18.5% higher than the norm.

The Rare Green LEAF – Customized By Matt L – Image Via Nissan LEAF Facebook

Other car colors that enable significantly better-than-average resale values are the equally bright and cheerful orange (7.8% above average), and green (+6.9%).

However, if your vehicular taste is even flashier than that, be aware that you’ll pay dearly for your dubious choice, as goldcars tend to command 12.1% less than the average used model. The other questionable colors that take a much bigger-than-average hit at trade-in time include purple (10.7% below average), and beige (-10.3). If you’re not shy about driving a gold, beige, or purple vehicle (or are color blind in the first place), their depressed resale values tend to make the excellent values in the used-car market.

Meanwhile, the most common car colors—whiteblackred, and gray—tend to depreciate at a near-average rate. Because they’re the most plentiful versions in a given model line, used-car buyers can shop around to get the exact combination of features they desire and enjoy added bargaining power in the process.

Buy why is yellow the color of money when it comes to a car’s resale value? For the most part it’s a case of supply and demand. Yellow cars are inherently less common than other hues, and tend to be limited mainly to sporty cars, convertibles, and a few SUVs (like the Jeep Wrangler) that already tend to hold their value well.

On the other hand, while they’re about as uncommon as yellow, orange, and green-painted vehicles (accounting for 1.2% of all three-year-old cars), other scarce car colors like beige, purple, and gold (a mere 0.7% of the market) rank rock-bottom in terms of resale values across every market segment.

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7 Comments on "How Your Color Choice Impacts Resale Value"

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No word about silver cars?! One of the most common colors here (especially for companys which don’t see the need to have their cars in “their” color, beside the logo on the car), together with black and white.


You might not want to hear it, but “silver” is grey and grey is mentioned in the article above. Silver is a light grey.

And gold (which are mentioned) is a dark yellow (yellow is also mentioned)…



If it’s a rare, notable blue, deep blue perl effect, 2000 € extra
maybe …

“Lemon-colored rides suffer an average 27% […], cheerful orange (7.8% above average), and green (+6.9%)” I question the usefulness of this data, it probably confuses correlation with causation. Think about which cars get sold in these “above average” resale values. It’s mostly sporty cars like race-inspired ones (think orange Lamborghinis or Bugattis, or yellow Ferraris, Ford Mustangs and Subarus WRX etc) or SUVs (think Rams, F150s, GMCs etc with high specs). What all these have in common is that they’re muscly cars, i.e. they signal adventure and style to their buyers. Quite the opposite of a silver Honda Civic in most ways. And these muscly sporty cars probably do not depreciate as quickly as other standard runabouts do, not least because (the racy type) don’t get driven nearly as much as a day-to-day car. Is then the colour an important factor? I doubt it. It is likely the type of car or even the segment. Think about it like this: how likely is a yellow Lamborghini going to attain a higher than average retail value? More likely than a (probably hard to sell) yellow Honda Civic. Another factor may be that expressive colours are typically bought by rather expressive buyers.… Read more »

“Lemon-colored rides suffer an average 27% depreciation after three years, which is 18.5% higher than the norm.”

If their depreciation is 18.5% higher than the norm they lose value more quickly. Yet the article says they retain their value better. Can’t have it both ways. The 27% depreciation must actually be LESS than the normal depreciation.

Needs to be reworded for clarity.