Yellow car driving on road.

Best Car Colors To Buy For Resale Value, Safety And More

Hanna Kielar4-minute read
March 23, 2022

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Whether you’re debating between two different color cars on the used lot or are considering giving your existing car a new paint job or vinyl wrap, there is plenty to consider before deciding what color car you want.

We’re going to take you through the implications of both classic and flashy color options. First, you should understand the car market.

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What Matters Most When Choosing A Car Color

Blue Bentley Continental GTC parked in a parking garage.

Source: art_zzz - stock.adobe.com

From the BMW M3 and M4’s Sao Paulo Yellow to the McLaren 765LT Papaya Spark, there are an abundance of bright colors to choose from in the 2022 lineup of luxury sports cars. In many ways, making a color choice decision based solely on its emotional and visual satisfaction can be a luxury in itself.

Let’s take a look at some more practical considerations the majority of car owners should take into account when choosing the best car color for long-term satisfaction.

Resale Value

White electric hybrid car driving down a highway.

The best time to think about resale value of your car is while you’re buying a car. Statistically, it makes sense that there will be a smaller pool of potential buyers when you select a Jetstream II Metallic option in the Bentley Continental GTC than a silver Honda Accord. Maybe the smaller pool of buyers is more willing to pay a premium for a more rare color, but don’t bet on it. Popular car colors are simply more palatable to the masses and will cast a wider net for future buyers and improve resale value.

According to an iSeeCars 2019 study that analyzed 9.4 million 1- to 5-year old used vehicles, white is the most popular color for cars in America. White cars took first place by a .7% margin over black cars. In fact, greyscale, neutral colors like white, black, gray and silver colored 77% of cars on the road.

Red cars account for 10.3% and blue cars for 9% of all vehicles lightly used sold in 2019. Brown, green, beige, orange, gold, yellow and purple constitute just 3.5% of remaining colors on the road, making them financially riskier color choices.

Our advice: Popular core colors like white, black, gray and silver are less likely to depreciate in value over time, as color trends come and go. If resale value is important to you, go greyscale.

Maintenance

Black car in a car wash covered in soap.

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Experts suspect that the black and white color spectrum remains the best car paint colors because they’re perceived as the easiest to maintain. That said, the easiest colors to maintain are more likely to be gray and silver, which hide dust and dirt fairly well.

Dark color choices, like black, green and blue, are the most difficult car colors to maintain. Water spots and automated car wash swirls are easy to see on black paint. But, a regularly polished black car is one of the more dazzling options.

Our advice: Car buyers who regularly hand wash their vehicles don’t need to worry about choosing a car color that’s easy to maintain. If you rely heavily on automated car washes, consider a gray, silver or white color.

Weather Impacts

Black car driving on snow covered dirt road in the middle of the woods.

While white and black are the globally preferred color options for cars, the more localized you get, the more nuance you’ll see in preference. The same iSeeCars study examined color preference by state and found that much of the Northeast preferred black, while hot weather climate states like Florida, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Hawaii all favored white. There’s a reason for that.

Black cars absorb heat from the sun, which then warms up the interior of your vehicle. White cars deflect sunlight and its associated heat, which will keep your car cooler in sunny weather. When considering the best car interior color combinations, be sure to consider heat absorption in your decision.

For example, if you live in a hot climate, can afford frequent visits to the car wash, but would rather avoid the sting of a hot steering wheel or seat, the best car color combination may be a white exterior with a lighter colored interior.

Our advice: Generally temperate or sunny weather calls for a light color that will deflect the heat of the sun. The farther you are from the equator and closer to wintry weather, the better off you’ll be with a darker color that will use solar energy to warm up your car.

Safety

Red BMW E83 X3 parked near other cars in a parking lot.

Source: art_zzz - stock.adobe.com

Most studies have shown that white cars are 12% less likely than black cars to be involved in a car accident. Some studies found that yellow was even safer than white. While the data speaks for itself, it’s presumed that bright, light colors are more visible to drivers, prompting speedier reaction times to hit the brakes and avoid a collision.

For some Americans, avoiding interactions with the police is a key safety concern. American Auto Insurance reports the car colors that get ticketed the most in the following order:

  1. White
  2. Red
  3. Gray
  4. Silver

We know white is the most popular color choice, so it makes sense that it would take the top title as the most ticketed car color. However, red is the fifth most popular color choice in the U.S. and, for whatever reason, seems to be disproportionately ticketed. Notice that black cars appear to be disproportionately able to evade police attention.

Our advice: The safest colors to spot in bad weather and at night will be bright, light colors like white and yellow. Red cars seem to be disproportionately noticed by police issuing traffic violations.

That said, car color isn’t the most important indicator for your safety. Look for cars with advanced safety technology and stellar crash test ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The Bottom Line: The Best Car Color For You Could Be Location-Specific

Choosing a car color will have both short- and long-term effects on your life. Grayscale colors are the most popular car colors on the road and will offer the best long-term return on your investment.

When deciding which end of the greyscale spectrum to choose – white or black – consider how you plan to maintain the vehicle and your general local climate. A heat-absorbing black paint job will be more welcome in a cold climate, though it will require more car washing and waxing to maintain its glimmer.

While you’re looking for your next car, remember that one of the key benefits of buying a car online is being able to filter for both exterior and interior color combinations of used vehicles for sale in your area and beyond.

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Hanna Kielar

Hanna Kielar is a Section Editor for Rocket Auto℠, RocketHQ℠, and Rocket Loans® with a focus on personal finance, automotive, and personal loans. She has a B.A. in Professional Writing from Michigan State University.