Last updated September 9th, 2022
If you are in the market for a new or used car, you may have your heart set on a particular colour. It’s a chance to show off your personality!
Perhaps you want to display your wild spirit with a classic red, your cool-headed temperament with a deep blue, or taste for luxury with a matte black. Alternatively, you may decide to pledge your loyalty with the colour of your favourite football team.
However, if your car’s future resale value is at the back of your mind, bear in mind that your personal colour tastes can affect the price it fetches on the second-hand market, positively or negatively.
In this article, we will explore the relationship between car colour and resale value – and provide answers to all the key questions to help you decide which car colour will provide the best return on investment.
Understated car colours, such as silver, grey and white, typically retain their value well in the longer term. These are bestsellers in the brand-new car market – and are also sought after by second-hand buyers. There is less demand for yellow and other unconventional colours, which often command lower resale prices.
Although cars in understated colours typically command higher resale prices, in the luxury and sports car market, it’s a different story. Quirkier-coloured luxury cars frequently fetch more than their plainer counterparts in the second-hand marketplace.
According to a 2021 study by Rivervale Leasing, gold is the car colour with the highest resale value, commanding an average price of £14,650 - 46% higher than the average selling price of £10,050. Green and orange also fared well, commanding 36% and 34% above the average selling price respectively.
The higher-than-average resale value of these colours can be explained by their popularity among luxury sports car owners. Lively-coloured sports cars turn heads wherever they go – especially when they have the looks and power to match!
Various studies agree that lighter colours such as white and yellow are among the safest. A 2007 study by the Monash University Accident Research Centre found that white vehicles were 10% less likely to be involved in a crash than those in lower-visibility colours such as black, grey and silver.
If you are considering changing up the colour of your car, there are two key factors that can affect its future resale value:
The quality of the new paintwork can influence whether your car increases (or depreciates) in value. A sub-par re-spray job can instantly reduce your car’s value and appeal. However, if you do your research and take your car to a reputable garage for a showroom-quality respray, you can reap the rewards when it’s time to sell your car – and enjoy your car’s fresh new look in the meantime!
Ideally, you should have your car repainted in one of the official manufacturer’s colours.
It’s advised to avoid re-spraying your car in unpopular colours. Cars with uncommon colours like yellow, pink, gold and purple aren’t likely to sell as there is little demand from car buyers.
In 2020, reality TV star Katie Price famously failed to sell her second-hand custom-sprayed pink Range Rover for £60,000 – and put the vehicle back on the market two years later with an asking price of just £10,000. Comparable models in manufacture colours have sold for more than the original asking price, which suggests it was the car’s eye-popping colour that made it a tough sell.
When it comes to choosing the right colour for your car, you should take its body type into consideration. Bright, vivid colours, such blue, green and red can complement sporty hatchbacks well. For executive cars, SUVs and other larger cars, classic shades of silver, black and grey tend to work better.
Your car’s paint code can be found in the owner’s manual or service history book. If you don’t have these, check inside the driver’s door, glovebox, under the bonnet - or under the spare wheel well. Alternatively, you can request the code from the original dealership.
According to 2021 data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Trading (SMMT), grey is currently the most popular colour across all car types, accounting for 24.8% of all cars sold. Other popular colours include black (20.5%), white (17.2%) and blue (17%).
Monochrome colours have topped the list for over a decade – and grey has maintained the top spot for the fourth year running.
UK drivers’ preference for monochrome cars also extends to the used market. According to SMMT data, black used cars were the most popular in the second quarter of 2021 – with a total of 461,050 sold.
The SMMT study revealed different colour preferences for different car body types. For instance, white is the most popular colour for superminis and sports cars, whilst black topped the list for larger cars, including dual-purpose vehicles, high-end saloons and executive cars
In a poll conducted by a leading UK car insurer, 36% of readers cited green as the unluckiest car colour. However, according to University research, black cars have the highest accident rate - 12% higher than white cars, due to poor night-time visibility.
Whilst there is some difference in opinion when it comes to the lowest maintenance car colour, it is broadly agreed that grey, white and silver cars are easier to care for. Conversely, if low maintenance is a priority, you should avoid buying a black, red or blue car.
Worried about dents and scratches? You may be interested to learn that white and silver are considered the best car colours for concealing these minor imperfections. Black paint doesn’t scratch more easily than any other colour, however superficial damage tends to be more visible due to contrast.
According to research on ‘Car Colour and Its Effect on Value’ from online automotive search engine iSeeCars.com, brown cars have the highest level of depreciation at the three-year mark from their brand-new retail price.