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This Car Color Has the Worst Resale Value

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Corvette On Autumn S-Curved Road
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The Color of Money

Do you take resale value into account when shopping for a new car, truck, or SUV? 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 when it comes to depreciation aren't necessarily the most popular (such as black, silver, and white). And paint color affects resale differently depending on the kind of vehicle. "While bolder or less common hues may seem like they would hurt a car's resale value, there are many instances where the opposite is true," says Karl Brauer, the company's executive analyst. We've listed paint colors using iSeeCars' analysis, starting with the best colors for your resale value and leading to the very worst.


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Mazda Miata MX-5
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13. Yellow (Best for Resale)

Depreciation: 45.6% 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 colors with the lowest vehicle share," Brauer says, "and is most commonly a color for sports cars and other low-volume vehicles that hold their value relatively well." It's not just passenger cars. Yellow is also the most "valuable" hue for SUV resale, and among the top three colors for convertibles.


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Ford Lobo
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12. Beige

Depreciation: 39% less than average


Yeah, we know, "beige" just sounds so … blah. But when was the last time you saw a bunch of beige cars on the road? Exactly. Like yellow, this hue is fairly uncommon on passenger vehicles — on fewer than 1% of them, according to iSeeCars. "Although the term 'beige' has become synonymous with boring, it encompasses a spectrum of hues from off-white to a light brown and stands out in a parking lot while still being a neutral color," Brauer says. But this hue, like some others, doesn't translate to high resale across the board: Also the No. 1 hue for pickup resale value, beige is the worst for SUVs. 


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Luxury cars for sale at Prestige Imports Miami FL
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11. Orange

Depreciation: 28% less than average


Orange is another bold shade that retains its resale value well for passenger cars and SUVs. "Like yellow, orange is most often found on low-volume sports and muscle cars," Brauer says. "[It's] such a novel color that it is often the choice for popular special edition vehicles, like the 30th edition Mazda MX-5 Miata, which are typically limited production vehicles." But if you're contemplating an orange pickup, think twice: It's one of the least lucrative shades for truck resale, according to the data.


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Suzuki SX4 S-Cross on a street
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10. Green

Depreciation: 17% less than average


It's not easy being green … unless we're talking SUVs and pickups. In both cases, green vehicles enjoyed moderately better-than-average resale values (it's the second-most valuable paint color after yellow for SUVs, and No. 4 for trucks). "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 says. But green sedans 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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View of silver RAM 1500 pickup parked in the street
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9. Gray

Depreciation: 3% 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 white and beige 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 says. 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 Mustang
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8. Red

Depreciation: 2% less than average


Plan to buy a convertible? Make sure it's a red one, because that's the shade that holds its value best over time, according to iSeeCars. "Within this category, red is the best color for retained value, likely because it's commonly associated with convertibles and buyers are willing to pay a premium for it," Brauer says. (And it isn't the most ticketed color, either.) But if you're buying a sporty hardtop coupe, steer clear of red; it's the second-worst color for resale behind gray. Your best best for recapturing a coupe's value at trade-in time is yellow.


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Volkswagen Sharan
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7. Blue

Depreciation: 2% less than average


Blue is the best color when it comes to resale value for minivans (white is just behind at No.2) and the third-best for sedans. "Minivans are a sensible vehicle choice, so purchasing a less-common color can make it a more exciting purchase," Brauer says. But if you're considering a pickup, blue won't do: The resale value of blue trucks is second lowest, according to the data, only slightly more valuable than brown.


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Hybrid SUV
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6. Silver

Depreciation: Average


Wanna play it safe with resale value? Go for silver. Resale value is spot-on average overall, neither helping nor harming value. "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 says. "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 (and gray) are the least lucrative colors for drop tops, according to iSeeCars.


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Suzuki Swift on a street
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5. White

Depreciation: 1% more than average


Along with silver, white is considered a  "safe" color when it comes to resale value. (White is particularly popular when it comes to pickups and minivans.) "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 says. "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
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4. Black

Depreciation: 2% 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. Like white and silver, black is a reliable color when it comes to retaining resale value, Brauer notes.


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Modern Dodge Challenger
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3. Purple

Depreciation: 10% more than average


At the other end of the resale spectrum are unhappy hues such as purple. Unlike yellow or orange, uncommon car colors that have a positive impact on resale, purple vehicles are less desirable at trade-in time.


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2021 Subaru Outback
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2. Brown

Depreciation: 12% more than average


Similarly uncommon brown vehicles suffer even more 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 says.


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Borgward Isabella oldtimer car
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1. Gold (Worst for Resale)

Depreciation: 21% more than average


Gold may be a precious metal, but as vehicle colors go, it's anything but valuable. In fact, vehicles this color have the lowest resale value on average, according to the data. The one subcategory for which the paint doesn't have a seriously negative impact: pickup trucks.


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Row of pre-owned cars for sale
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Methodology

To arrive at its conclusions, iSeeCars analysts reviewed sales data for 6 million new and used vehicles from January to July 2017 and again during the same period in 2020. Average list prices of new vehicles were adjusted for inflation and then compared with the average cost of corresponding used vehicles.


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