It's a well-accepted axiom that condition and mileage are among the biggest determining factors with regard to a given car or truck's resale value, but a recent study of over 2.1 million used car sales conducted by the used-vehicle site iSeeCars.com found that a vehicle's color can also help boost or bust its return down the road. Yellow cars tend to bring back the most bucks, with their resale values averaging 18.5% higher than the norm.
Other car colors that enable better-than-average resale values are likewise bright and cheerful, and include orange (+7.8% resale value), green (+6.9%), white (+1.6%), and red (+1.4%).
At the other end of the vehicular rainbow, gold is far from being, well, golden, with three-year-old Midas-hued models valued at 12.1% less than the average used car. Other colors that take a bigger-than-average hit at trade-in time include purple (-10.7%), beige (-10.3), silver (-2.6), and black (-1.6%).
Is this a case of brightly colored cars simply standing out in a crowded used-car lot filled with dull and oddly painted rides, attracting buyers like honey bees to sunflowers, or is there deeper market forces being flexed?
"Yellow cars are relatively less common, which could drive up demand and help maintain their value," speculates iSeeCars.com's CEO Phong Ly. "Our analysis shows that yellow vehicles have the lowest depreciation of any color for lower-volume cars like convertibles. Interestingly, yellow is also the color with the least depreciation for popular body styles like SUVs and pickup trucks."
Okay, we know they're out there, but when was the last time you saw a yellow pickup truck? Apparently, that degree of scarcity is worth something, as yellow pickups depreciate only 25.8% over three years, compared to 30.9% for the average hauler, while yellow SUVs lose a mere 10.9% of their original value over the same period, which is nearly half the segment average of 20.9%, according to the website's data.
But it’s not entirely a supply-and-demand issues. Though yellow, orange, and green are not particularly common colors – they only make up 1.2% of all three-year-old cars says iSeeCars.com – other particularly scarce hues like beige, purple, and gold (accounting for a mere 0.7% of the market) rank rock-bottom in terms of resale values. And that applies to pickups and SUVs as well as passenger cars. "Across almost every body style, gold vehicles have some of the worst depreciation rates of any color," says Ly.
Perhaps taste has something to do with it after all. Or maybe it's a gender-specific thing.
In an earlier study, iSeeCars.com determined that male motorists tend to fancy flashy yellow and orange cars and trucks the most of all, while women were most-often drawn to teal, gold, and silver models. "Men favor pickups and sports cars more than women do, and those segments have an unusually high percentage of yellow and orange cars," Ly. explains "The same is true for some of women's favorite body styles – SUVs and minivans – which have more teal and gold cars than average."
The full results of the study and its methodology can be found here.