Neutral colors are usually best for resale, according to Czornij of BASF. Last year, 74 percent of the cars built for the U.S. market were white, black, silver, or gray, says Nancy Lockhart, color marketing manager at Axalta Coating Systems, and a record number of cars were white. The auto industry refers to these colors as the neutrals, and their numbers have increased in the United States in recent years. Lockhart says that the neutral shades are the go-to car colors in harder economic times, following the hemline index. If cars were skirts, they’d mostly be white and below the knee right now.
And then there's red. Red is the fifth most popular car color in the United States and Canada, a bright spot at the end of the subdued neutral rainbow. Last year, 10 percent of the cars built in North America were red, trailing gray by five percent. If a car color is associated strongly with a car, like the little red Corvette that Prince sings about, that will work for resale. But trendy colors can look outdated a decade later.
Geography and the car model are also facets of the resale prism. Bob Graham, vice president of Vehicle Remarketing for Automotive Resources International, a fleet management company, says that a car color’s resale value also depends on these elements. "It’s not likely that either a subcompact buyer or a buyer in Florida or Nevada would choose black," Graham said. "If you think of a sports car, a subcompact, a luxury sedan and a pickup truck buyer, it’s unlikely they would ever think of their color choices in the same way."
The take away is that white, black, silver, and gray are strong for the used car market, but also consider what car colors are popular for your type of car and for where you live. Go wild with the color, and it may be harder to find a buyer, especially if the car color is as trendy as orange, which was a hot color at the car shows this year. At resale, it may scream "so 2013."