Most Popular Car Colors

Woman Next to Yellow Sports Car
•••  Getty Images/ Peathegee Inc

These days, vehicles come in every shade of the rainbow, from sleek dark black to white matte and every hue in between. But what are the most popular car colors, why do we prefer these colors, and what impact does the color of your vehicle have on its future resale value?

What Are the Most Popular Car Colors?

According to an analysis by a major vehicle paint manufacturer, the most popular vehicle colors that drivers purchase are silver (23 percent), white (15 percent), and black (12 percent), which together represent half of all cars on the road.

Why Do We Like the Colors That We Like?

The reasons that individuals prefer different car colors are hard to pin down. One automotive paint executive speculated that “Silver and gray reflect our fascination with technology, such as seen in the brushed chrome cues on laptop computer covers and other electronic devices. Secondly, silver and techno-gray seem to accentuate the angular, 'new-edge design' of the latest luxury sports vehicles."

Have We Always Preferred These Colors?

The history of vehicle colors is fascinating. In the very early days, cars were basically just carriages with motors and were painted the same standard hues as horse-drawn carriages: typically black. But the quality of the paint was very low, and the shiny hue would quickly fade to yellow, necessitating a new paint job. When the Ford Motor Company began producing their famous Model T, they also created a new process of car painting that used an asphalt-based paint. By the early 1920s, they teamed up with the Dupont chemical company to create yet another process that could be used to paint vehicles in colors of every shade of the rainbow.

In the ensuing decades, consumers followed an economic and cultural pattern of purchasing darker/more neutral shades during times of financial downturn and brighter shades during happier times—during the bicentennial year, for example, the most popular car colors were red, white and blue.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

As the 1953 comedy taught us, gentlemen prefer blondes—and it seems that men have a bias towards copper-colored vehicles, too.

In a 2016 study, men preferred yellow cars 34 percent more often than women do, up from 21 percent in 2015. Neck and neck with yellow came orange vehicles, which men preferred 33 percent more often than their female peers, up from 23 percent in 2015. Men prefer black and brown cars slightly more than women do (14 and 13 percent more often, respectively), and also have a slight bias towards red and white vehicles (6 and 5 percent more often, respectively).

In the same study, women had a huge jump in preference for teal cars, preferring them 19 percent more often than men do, a whopping 23 percent increase in preference (in 2015, they preferred teal colored vehicles four percent less often than men did). Women also prefer gold and silver vehicles more than men do (15 and 10 percent more than men, respectively) and have a slight preference for blue and green vehicles (5 and 4 percent, respectively).

...And They Pay for the Privilege

The car colors that men prefer cost, on average, about $3,258 more than the colors women prefer! The average price difference in the top-preferred colors for each gender is even more striking: while the average teal used vehicle only costs $11,053, the average price of a yellow used vehicle is $20,601. Of course, the make and model of the vehicle impacts price much more than the color, but sportier colors do tend to come on sportier (and more expensive) cars more frequently.

Does Your Car Color Impact Your Insurance Rate?

The idea that certain colors of car cost more to insure is a big old myth. Insurance companies never ask for your car color. Things that do impact your car insurance cost include driving fast cars and cars that are more costly to repair.

Does Your Car Color Impact Your Vehicle’s Resale Value?

As we discussed above, people generally prefer to purchase cars that are silver, white, and black. If you paint your vehicle a crazy color, you might have a harder time selling it. Unless you are painting your car as a flashy statement or have always dreamed of owning a vehicle in a certain color, it’s best to stick to the standard palate.