The 3 Best (And 3 Worst) Car Colors for Resale Value

Might be time to buy a yellow car.
Might be time to buy a yellow car. / welcomia/iStock via Getty Images

Optimizing the experience of buying a car requires quite a bit of forethought. You might read up on the best time of year for deals and the states with the cheapest prices. If you’re planning to purchase online, you may want to study up on helpful tips before starting your search. If you’re buying in person, it might be worth learning how to haggle before heading to the dealership.

And then, of course, you have to decide what kind of car you want—and which color you should get. Aside from personal preference, another important factor to consider is how color can affect a car’s resale value. So which hues should you seek out, and which ones should you avoid?

To answer that question, analysts at iSeeCars first compiled a list of 650,000 vehicles that came out in 2019 and were resold between August 2021 and May 2022. They then compared the original manufacturer’s suggested retail prices (MSRPs)—adjusted for inflation—with the average price tags on the used vehicles. According to their results, reselling a yellow car will get you the most buck for your bang.

Over three years, the value of the yellow vehicles only depreciated by an average of 4.5 percent, meaning they went for roughly $3155 less than their MSRPs. For reference, the average depreciation for all vehicles included in the study was 15 percent, or about $6096 under the average MSRP. 

“Yellow is among the least popular car colors with the lowest vehicle share and is commonly a color for sports cars and other low-volume vehicles that hold their value relatively well,” iSeeCars executive analyst Karl Brauer explained. “Because yellow vehicles are so novel in the secondhand marketplace, people are willing to pay a premium for them.”

Similar conclusions can be made about the two colors with the best resale value after yellow: orange, with a 10.7 percent average depreciation, and purple, at 13.9 percent. On the flip side, a brown vehicle is about as hard to resell as you might expect. Its three-year depreciation value was nearly 18 percent—the highest of any color on the list. “Rarity alone does not equal value,” Brauer said. “If a color doesn’t resonate with enough used car shoppers it will hurt resale value, even if it’s uncommon.”

See the stats for the three best and three worst colors for resale value below, and check out the full list here.

The Car Colors With the Best Resale Value

  • Color // 3-Year Depreciation (Decrease From MSRP)
  1. Yellow // 4.5 percent (-$3155)
  2. Orange // 10.7 percent (-$3825)
  3. Purple // 13.9 percent (-$5461)

The Car Colors With the Worst Resale Value

  • Color // 3-Year Depreciation (Decrease From MSRP)
  1. Brown // 17.8 percent (-$7642)
  2. Gold // 16.7 percent (-$6719)
  3. Black // 16.1 percent (-$6993)