How does auto color affect its resale value?

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Used cars of exotic colors may take more patience to move. Image: Flottesen/Flickr/CC BY-SA

It’s not just about how clean your engine is or how few miles your car may have on the odometer. The color of your old car also helps determine its resale value. More exotic or trendy tones may also take more patience to move, in addition to a possible price cut.

The color of resale value

Dupont, a leading maker of car coatings, releases its Automotive Color Popularity Report annually. The 2011 report — the most recent year available — says that blander colors are the top sellers today in North America. Last year, the top four car colors were white, at 23 percent; black, at 18 percent; silver, at 16 percent; and gray at 13 percent. recently crunched the numbers and was in basic agreement with Dupont. It found that white, black and silver dominate the contemporary automotive palette. And it also found that color does indeed affect a vehicle’s resale price.

For instance, found that a 2009 Honda Accord in good condition sells for $15,514 in today’s market. If it is silver. Buy the same car in dark blue, however, and you will only need to fork out $15,313. Similarly, a 2008 Chevy Equinox in white can be had for $15,348. In teal, it sells for just $14,578.

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Duller colors have not always been in the forefront. The popularity of certain colors is a trend of fashion, and so, always in flux.

Colors not always so bland

Nancy Lockhart, DuPont’s color marketing manager, said:

“In the ’50s, there was more color. There was a lot of green, teals, aquas, blues, those types of colors. . . . Silver and white were not popular colors back then. Of course, today is the complete opposite.”

The reason for that, speculates Lockhart, is that more sober tones dominate in these sober times of economic uncertainty. She also added that, since black and silver are generally the colors of choice for luxury cars, consumers perceive those hues as being indicative of quality, even in lower-end cars.

Patience will out

So is it necessary for somebody with colorful tastes to put aside personal preference when buying a car? Not necessarily. It may just be a matter of patience and holding out for the right buyer when it comes times for selling that used auto. Motor enthusiasts come in all colors, too.

Eric Lyman, of the automotive data firm ALG, said:

“Traditional colors like white, black and silver won’t hurt your future value. But if you’re choosing a color that’s a little more trendy, keep in mind that finding someone like-minded can take time. Just because a color is popular today doesn’t mean it will be popular in a few years.”


Washington Post
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