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Published: Aug 09, 2023 4 min read
Photo illustration of many cars and many color swatches
Money; Getty Images

From yellow convertibles to green minivans, unusually colored cars appear to have their values hold up best in the resale market.

Even though black and silver vehicles, for example, are much more popular with new car buyers, research from iSeeCars.com shows that vehicles in common paint coats can lose value quickly. "There are just too many cars available in those colors to elevate resale value," Karl Brauer, an analyst at the car search company, said in a report from June.

The value of the average vehicle drops 22.5% in three years, but the falloff is much lower for certain color cars, like yellow, coming in at 13.5%. Compared to the average three-year decline in value of $9,674, yellow cars lose $6,588, a difference of more than $3,000.

“While not many people want a yellow car, there are clearly more people who want one than exist, which is why yellow performs so well on the secondary market,” Brauer said.

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What the research says

For the car market in general, the above-average colors for resale value are yellow, beige, orange, green, red, white and blue. These could be good choices if resale value is a top concern.

Here are some of the other insights from the data:

  • Compared to last year’s analysis, beige moved up from the No. 9 spot into second. It can be hard to say exactly why a color performs well in terms of holding its value, but iSeeCars.com suggests beige cars are faring better than other colors because some special trims of off-road trucks are made in that color, including the Jeep Gladiator Mojave and the Toyota Tacoma TRD, which are coveted vehicles.
  • While yellow performs extremely well for resale value in the coupe and convertible segments, shoppers for other types of cars seem to want something less flashy. Overall, brown is the second worst color (only ahead of gold) if you're trying to sell your vehicle, but it’s the best color for sedans if you want your car to hold value. Brown “blends in and doesn’t make any waves,” which used sedan buyers seem to be into, according to the report.
  • Green does well in every category, but that's especially true in the minivan segment where it's the top ranking color for resale value, “suggesting the conservative earth tone matches the minivan demographic," according to the report.

Bottom line

Resale value isn't always a consideration when Americans are shopping for cars and choosing colors. More often, buyers probably pick a color based on what they think looks good. Or, with vehicle inventory as low as it has been, they may focus simply on getting the right trim at a fair price and the color is an afterthought.

As it turns out, however, a car’s color matters quite a bit and can possibly make a difference of several thousand dollars when it’s time to sell.

But you can’t necessarily just buy a yellow car and bank on being able to sell it for a high price in a few years. It’s not that simple because trends vary depending on the segment and the car model. Not to mention that the potential difference in resale value may not be worth the head turns, if that’s not your thing.

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