Paint your new car by the numbers

By Author: Carolyn Briggs, Date: Aug 17, 2016

Selecting your paint color is a pretty important part of the car buying process. From speeding tickets to temperature, the color affects so much more than how much you like looking at it.

Perhaps no factor is more important than resale value. When you’re ready to upgrade, how much will you be able to get back?

So get the black one, it’ll be easy to sell, right?

A new study, performed by car sales and research site, basically confirm something advertisers have known for decades: if it’s rare, they’ll pay more.

The study looked at more than 20 million used cars for sale between 1981 and 2010 to determine which cars were worth the most after 5 years. Uncommon car colors topped the list, with yellow coming in as the lowest depreciator. At only 26.2% over five years, yellow cars depreciate almost 6.5% slower than the average rate.

Orange comes close behind at 27.6%, and green, teal and red are also above average at around 31%.


It’s not hard to speculate on why.

In a new car lot, you get to choose your color, and for the most part pay the same whether you choose the most or least common color. But, buying a used cars isn’t a choose-your-own-adventure. You’re limited to what other people have already bought.

With the supply of these colors so low, sellers are able to ask more.

“Scarcity may account for the difference — only 1.1% of all cars are yellow and orange; if teal and green are included, the percentage still goes up to just 5%,” Phong Ly, CEO and co-founder of said. “The dearth of supply of such colors may drive prices up.”

Beige, brown, gold, blue and white all came in around average, at 33.3%, while silver, gray and black finished below the national average.

Again, this fits the supply-and-demand theory. The colors that finished below average make up a vast majority of used cars for sale. If there are 37 of the same black car to choose from it makes sense to choose the cheapest one.

The study says the rule of uncommon colors depreciating more slowly is true across all segments, though there is some variance on which uncommon color performs best. For example, yellow is the lowest depreciator on an SUV, but teal convertibles will hold their value best.

So next time you’re at the car dealer, admiring that banana yellow paint job, don’t let your practical side talk you into the boring silver. This is one time where having more fun can actually save you money.

Carolyn Briggs

I grew up on the road. As a child, my family took regular trips from Wisconsin to both coasts. That's how I've seen most of this country — through the window of a car. Years later, I still feel that excitement when I toss my bags in the trunk and get behind the wheel. That's how seeing something new always begins. I've scaled mountains, dived with sharks, and stepped to the very edge of the Grand Canyon, all because I spent hours in a car. This site combines my passion for the road with my actual talent — communication and journalism. In college I rose to the position of managing editor for The Badger Herald, the largest independent student newspaper in the country at the time. I spent a year after graduating in social media marketing before moving off the grid to explore the wild beauty of West Virginia.

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