Color Matters! What a Paint Job Can Do For Your Car Resale Value

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New Acura NSX | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

New Acura NSX | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

It may seem like you’re feeding your superficial side when shopping for a new set of wheels, but when it comes time to sell, your choice in car color could make a notable difference in how much you can get back. In a recent study by iSeeCars.com, researchers discovered that the pigment of a car can make or break a vehicle’s ability to retain its value, and now we have the stats to back it up.

According to iSeeCars.com’s analysis of 1.6 million vehicles, while the average car depreciated 29.8% over the first three years of ownership, orange and yellow vehicles depreciated the least out of any color, at 27.4% and 26.2% less than the average vehicle, respectively. This was followed by another uncommon color, green, which landed at 17.6% below the threshold, even cars like the new Camaro, with its wild “Krypton Green.”

Car Colors vs. Depreciation | Source: iSeeCars.com

Car Colors vs. Depreciation | Source: iSeeCars.com

In order to gather enough evidence to support its claims that wilder paint jobs help retain value, iSeeCars.com took the 1.6 million used three-year- old cars used in its study and put them put them up against one another from a pigment perspective. Depreciation over three years was calculated by comparing the average list price to the average MSRP, adjusting for things like inflation for each color, and taking into account stats for body style/market segment. Obscure colors that only ended up getting sprayed on fewer than 1,000 cars, along with colors and body styles/market segments with fewer than 30 vehicles were excluded from the analysis.

“One of the main contributing factors is supply and demand,” said Phong Ly, CEO of iSeeCars.com. “The more unusual colors, such as orange, yellow, and green, are not as readily available (making up only 1.5% of all vehicles), yet they are popular with enough car buyers to create a demand that directly affects their resale value.”

Acura Paint | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Acura Paint | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

In addition to scarcity, lower mileage is another factor that helps retain value for vehicles in these rarer colors. “Cars in orange, yellow, and to a lesser extent, green, are primarily sports cars and muscle cars,” says Ly. “Not only do these colors appeal to many of the buyers in these segments, but these cars are driven less, most likely because they are not used as daily drivers. For example, the average mileage of three-year- old orange sports cars is just 27,210 miles, and 26,822 miles for muscle cars, compared to 36,324 miles on average for all cars.”

Surprisingly, cars in rare colors typically take about the same amount of time as the average vanilla-colored car to sell. Ly elaborates, “The average three-year- old car takes 43.9 days to sell, while the average for orange cars is 44.1 days and 44.9 for green cars. Yellow cars take a bit longer to move, at 49.5 days, but they are not languishing on dealer’s lots.”

Car Colors vs. Time on Market| Source: iSeeCars.com

Car Colors vs. Time on Market| Source: iSeeCars.com

On the other hand, almost all colors save for beige typically sell within six days of the average car, even when common car colors like black, white, and gray show depreciation that is far closer to the average car. “Because buyers shopping for such colors have a lot more choices, sellers may not have as much pricing power,” Ly commented. Meanwhile, gold vehicles showed the worst depreciation of any color, at 33.5% over the first three years, and since the majority of gold cars are often sedans, buyer interest remains low due to a waning interest in the segment in recent years.

Having said that, drivers who plan to turn in their leased vehicles or want to opt out for something fresh shouldn’t expect more than the average retained value. “But,” Ly says, “Consumers who have a car in orange, yellow, or green may be able to get more money for their cars, potentially adding to the down payment on their next car.”

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