Vehicle Depreciation by Color Says Yellow Rules
If you buy a car fully intending to sell it in three years, you want it to hold its value, right? So how can you help get a better resale value three years down the line? Buy yellow.
“Yellow may not be a widely desired car color, but there are enough people who want yellow, versus the number of yellow new cars being ordered, to make yellow cars more desirable than others on the used market,” said iSeeCars executive analyst Karl Brauer. “In fact, yellow is among the colors with the lowest vehicle share, and is most commonly a color for sports cars and other low-volume vehicles that hold their value relatively well.”
Wait, wasn’t white supposed to be the “safest” car color for depreciation? Turns out, no. White was number nine on the list of 13 colors iSeeCars compiled from a list of 5.6 million new cars and 700,000 used cars bought and sold or traded in between 2017 and 2020. Beige, the second-safest color, only depreciated 22.8 percent in three years. Yellow only 20.4 percent. White dropped 38 percent. Gold was the worst of the 13 colors, plummeting 45.6 percent over three years.
The site iSeeCars.com compared the prices of more than six million new and used cars between 2017 and 2020 and used that data to determine which colors help, hurt, or don’t seem to matter when it comes to vehicle resale value.
“A vehicle’s color is among the primary considerations after shoppers have decided on a make and model,” said Brauer. “With resale value being the single biggest factor in how much a new vehicle ‘costs’ over the course of ownership, consumers should carefully consider their color choice.”
The website said that mainstream colors, including white, black, and silver, are popular because they are seen as the safest colors with the widest appeal. Being seen as and actually being safest, however, are two different things.
“There’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy going on here, with many consumers picking these mainstream colors not because they like them, but because they assume everyone else does,” said Brauer. “This makes white, black, and silver appear to be in high demand, yet our analysis confirms that more obscure colors tend to hold their value better than common and popular colors.”
Vehicle Depreciation by Car Color
Brauer points out that the most common car colors—black, white, silver, gray, red, and blue—are all close to average in terms of depreciation. “Because there are so many of these vehicles in the used car marketplace, buyers can shop around more easily if they’re interested in these colors, reducing the amount of pricing power for dealers,” said Brauer. “This means black, white, and silver are the safe colors to buy if you’re satisfied with average value retention, but not if you’re trying to do better than average.”
Surprisingly, yellow is also the best color for SUVs, sedans and coupes, while beige is best for pickup trucks, red for convertibles, and blue for minivans. Go figure.
Check out more iSeeCars lists here. And start shopping!
Do you choose your car colors based on retaining resale value, personal preference, or availability? Share you comments with us below.
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