Does a Car’s Color Affect Used Car Value?

by Don Elliott on November 29, 2011

Stand on any corner and watch the flow of cars. How did these drivers choose the car color when they were in the market for a new or used car? Which car colors hold their used car value better than other car colors? Do police right more tickets to red cars than any other car color? Are some car colors more expensive than other colors to insure? Which car colors are the most popular? Rumor and myth often control the conversation when talking about car colors. Everybody has an opinion. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of fact to support the rumor.

Progressive Insurance surveyed their customer to see whether car color was perceived as a factor in the amount charged by the insurance companies. 25% of those surveyed stated that red cars cost more to insure than any other car color. However, most car insurance companies don’t even ask for the car color when quoting insurance rates.

Car colors actually have a bigger impact on car dealers. Every dealer remembers the robin egg blue Renault Alliance that nobody would even look at back in the ‘80s. They tend to forget that the car was unremarkable regardless of the color. The purple Ford Taurus was also touted as a hot new car color that almost nobody wanted to buy. The color was unique, but it was absolutely the wrong color for the Taurus styling. A similar color on the Dodge Viper worked much better. Stand at any wholesale auto auction and look over the thousands of cars that will be offered for sale. For the most part, they appear to be a mix of neutral shades. Very few strong colors make it to the production line.

Car manufacturers are the main driving force behind the car color choices. Long before the first car goes down the assembly line, designers research consumer reaction to car colors. Paint manufacturers offer advice based on a car’s styling, with safe colors getting the bulk of the production mix.

Paint manufacturer, DuPont, recently released their 2011 Trend Show “Sense of Color.” For years, silver has been the most selected color, often accounting for as much as 25% of the car color palette. In 2011, white and pearlescent white took the first spot at 22% of the total build. Silver was fractionally less just under 22%. As usual, black took third at 19%.

Car color can be a big factor in the price of a used car. Historically, blue and green cars bring less money than white or silver cars. Red sports cars sold at car auction always bring more money than brown sports cars, regardless of make. And yellow is a better car color choice for convertibles than for SUVs. It is wise to keep these tendencies in mind when buying a car.

And what about red color cars attracting more speeding tickets? While nobody has done a definitive study, it turns out that speeding tickets are given out to people who are speeding, not to people driving red cars. Who would have guessed that?


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