This Car Color Has the Worst Resale Value

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Corvette On Autumn S-Curved Road

The Color of Money

Do you take resale value into account when shopping for a new vehicle? You're not the only one. But make and model aren't the only factors when it comes to figuring a used car's worth — so is color, according to a study by vehicle-sales search site iSeeCars. Surprisingly, the most "valuable" hues aren't always the most popular (gray, silver, and black still dominated in 2022, according to data from paint giant PPG). And paint color affects resale differently depending on the kind of vehicle. “A vehicle’s color is among the primary considerations after shoppers have decided on a make and model,” said iSeeCars analyst Karl Brauer. “With depreciation being the largest cost of vehicle ownership, consumers should carefully consider their color choice – especially if they plan on selling their vehicle.” We've listed paint colors using iSeeCars' analysis, starting with the best colors for resale value and ending with the very worst.

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Mazda Miata MX-5

13. Yellow (Best for Resale)

Depreciation: 70% less than average

Believe it or not, this vivid hue affects vehicle resale value the least, according to iSeeCars' study. That's due, at least in part, to scarcity. “Yellow is among the least popular car colors with the lowest vehicle share and is commonly a color for sports cars and other low-volume vehicles that hold their value relatively well,” said Brauer. “Because yellow vehicles are so novel in the secondhand marketplace, people are willing to pay a premium for them.” It's not just passenger cars. Yellow is also the most "valuable" hue for both SUV and convertible resale.

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12. Orange

Depreciation: 29% less than average

Orange is another bold shade that retains its resale value well for passenger cars and SUVs. “Like yellow, orange comprises a small overall share of vehicles and is most often found on low-volume sports and muscle cars,” said Brauer. “Orange is such a novel color that it is often the choice for popular special edition vehicles, like the 30th edition Mazda MX-5 Miata and the 2023 Toyota GR86 Special Edition, which are typically limited-production vehicles.”  

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Modern Dodge Challenger

11. Purple

Depreciation: 7.3% less than average

After coming in near the bottom of the rankings last year, purple and other jewel tones performed well this year, holding value better than average. Surprisingly, it's the lowest-depreciating color for sedans. “This again proves that even in a relatively conservative vehicle segment, there’s enough demand for flashier colors to give purple and red an advantage in resale value,” said Brauer. “Purple is one of the least common colors in the sedan segment, and the popular Dodge Charger contributes to the favorable resale value of purple sedans.” 

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Ford Mustang

10. Red

Depreciation: 6.7% less than average

Plan to buy a sporty hardtop coupe? Red is behind only purple and orange in resale rankings, according to iSeeCars. “Red, green, and blue fare slightly better than average because they are slightly more novel than grayscale colors and allow drivers to stand out without having to choose a flashy, obscure color,” Brauer said. (And red  isn't the most ticketed color, either.) But if you're buying a convertible, red isn't your best bet for recapturing value at trade-in time; it ranks below yellow, green, orange, and blue.

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9. Green

Depreciation: 6.7% less than average

It's not easy being green … unless we're talking SUVs. In that category, green vehicles enjoyed moderately better-than-average resale values (it's the third-most valuable paint color after yellow and orange). "The low depreciation of yellow, green, and orange SUVs reflects the imbalance between how many people are picking these colors compared to how many buyers want them," Brauer said. But green pick-up trucks are definitely not hot, according to the iSeeCars data. In fact, it's the least valuable hue, depreciating more than any other color.

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8. Blue

Depreciation: 4.6% less than average

Blue comes in third when it comes to resale value for minivans and the sixth-best for sedans. "Minivans are a sensible vehicle choice, so purchasing a less-common color can make it a more exciting purchase," Brauer said. It is also fourth for pick-up trucks and seventh for SUVs.

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7. Gray

Depreciation: 4.6% less than average

Looking for a middle-of-the-road color that won't affect resale value too much? Choose a gray car, truck, or SUV. In all instances, depreciation for gray vehicles is fairly close to the industry average. Gray is particularly popular on pickups, just behind beige and orange on the iSeeCars list of resale values. "The low depreciation of muted colors for trucks could be partly attributed to the use of these trucks for work/fleet purposes, with neutral colors hiding wear and being easier to display company signage," Brauer said. The only gray cars that suffer at trade-in time are convertibles and coupes, two classes of car for which drivers favor bold, eye-catching hues.

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Ford Lobo

6. Beige

Depreciation: 4% less than average

Yeah, we know, "beige" just sounds so … blah. But it's the shade with the highest resale value for pick-up trucks. Blame (or thank) Toyota.  “Toyota introduced a ‘quicksand’ beige hue which was exclusive to its TRD Pro off-road editions in 2016 before becoming available on all of its pickups in 2017,” said Brauer. “Toyotas represent the vast majority of available beige pickups, and their stellar value retention help beige trucks maintain their value.”

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Hybrid SUV

5. Silver

Depreciation: 1.3% less than average

Wanna play it safe with resale value? Go for silver, one of the most ubiquitous car colors. Resale value is just a little above average overall. "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," Brauer said. "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." The one exception: convertibles. Silver is second only to black for the least lucrative color for drop tops, according to iSeeCars.

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4. White

Depreciation: 3% more than average

Along with silver, white is considered a "safe" color when it comes to resale value. "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," Brauer said. "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."

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Hybrid Lexus

3. Black

Depreciation: 7.3% more than average

Henry Ford once boasted that his customers could have any car color they wanted … as long as it was black (the only paint hue offered on his Model T). These days, black is just one of a rainbow of paint hues manufacturers offer, but it remains one of the most common.  

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Borgward Isabella oldtimer car

2. Gold

Depreciation: 11.3% more than average

Gold may be a precious metal, but as vehicle colors go, it's anything but valuable. In fact, vehicles with this color have close to the lowest resale value on average, according to the data. But it's not the worst this year, which it was last year, so maybe things are looking up (slightly) for gold.

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2021 Subaru Outback

1. Brown (Worst for Resale)

Depreciation: 18.7% more than average

Brown vehicles suffer the most at trade-in time in terms of resale value. "Rarity alone does not equal value. If a color doesn't resonate with enough used-car shoppers it will hurt resale value, even if it's uncommon," Brauer said.

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To arrive at its conclusions, iSeeCars analysts reviewed sales data for over 650,000 used model-year 2019 vehicles from August 2021 and May 2022. The manufacturer suggested retail price of each car was adjusted for inflation to 2022 dollars, and then compared to the average list prices of the used cars, said iSeeCars. The data were then aggregated by car color and body style.   

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