Before you peel away from the car lot in your shiny new vehicle, you may want to stop and reconsider the paint color. Not because that amazing red finish isn’t eye-catching, but because it might not be the best choice when it comes to having resale value down the line.
According to The New York Times, a car’s color is an unlikely factor in how much of its original value it retains over time. A 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF, for example, was estimated to be worth about $1000 less if it sported gray paint rather than red.
The data comes from iSeeCars.com, which looked at car resale values over a three-year period. Bold colors like yellow, beige, and orange tended to depreciate less, between 20 percent to 27 percent, while blue, silver, white, and black were around 38 percent. Purple, brown, and gold were the worst performers, dropping as much as 46 percent.
Why is this? For one, colors that might be trendy and “in” one year could be less desirable the next. Alternately, consumers may have opted for a color that was more of a fit for their personal tastes rather than what might be appealing to a wider group of potential buyers. Or, the color might have regional popularity, but if the buyer (or car) relocates, it could wind up sitting idle. An eye-blistering neon green sedan in Florida might not be too attractive in a snowy climate.
The combination of color and model can also be a factor. The average depreciation on any car over a three-year period is 29.8 percent. An SUV painted beige can lose up to 46 percent of its value in the same timeframe, while a pick-up truck painted beige might only take an 18 percent hit. That’s because beige is a good utility color that hides dirt well. In a pick-up, that matters.
The most common colors—blue, silver, white, and black—are considered average when it comes to value retention. For someone shopping used, they might be too plain. For others, practicality is preferred. (White tends to hide scratches.)
But none of this means you shouldn’t opt for what you like. While yellow cars are relatively rare when sold as new, their scarcity helps them retain value used.
And remember that any good paint job is better than a damaged one, which is why it’s important to clean that acidic bird poop from your roof as soon as possible.
[h/t The New York Times]