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Does a car’s colour impact its value?

When it comes to purchasing a car, perhaps one of the trickier things to consider is what colour your new vehicle should come in.

Depending on the manufacturer you can choose from black, grey, silver, blue, gold, white and on and on. You can also choose the type of finish you like be it metallic or pearlescent, and some manufacturers may even have a matte option.

With so many possibilities available for today’s consumer it’s surprising that many still favour good old white.

Axalta, a US-based company specialising in coatings, which include car paints, released their ‘Global Automotive Colour Popularity 2022’ report.

Worldwide, a considerable 34 per cent of all new cars were finished in white. Coming in second with 21 per cent was black and grey was third with 19 per cent. Silver and blue were tied for fourth with 8 per cent.

In Australia approximately 38 per cent of new cars sold are white.

So, what makes white cars so popular?


Cheaper but higher value

White paint tends to be the no added cost option while other colours will incur extra charges. However, selecting a different finish, for example, pearlescent white, might also have a fee. If you need to repair the car, the basic white paint is cheaper however pearlescent white will be costlier due to the finish.

Depending on your insurer you might save $10 to $20 a year compared to a black car, which just so happens to be the most expensive paint to insure.

Dirt doesn’t show up as obviously as it does on the darker-hued cars so you could get away with washing it less. White is generally more resistant to sunlight, which means it won’t fade as quickly as other colours. The lighter the colour of the car, the less it will show imperfections as dings and scratches are more visible in darker colours.

White and silver cars are more popular in the used car market and will often fetch a higher price compared to their coloured counterparts as white cars depreciate slower.

Safer on the road

A 2007 study conducted by Monash University Accident Research Centre discovered that there was no colour that was statistically safer than white. Black, blue, grey, green, red, and silver cars were “associated with higher crash risk” compared to white cars.

“The association between vehicle colour and crash risk was strongest during daylight hours, where relative crash risks were higher for the colours listed compared to white by up to around 10 per cent,” the researchers said.

Lower visibility colours were associated with having a higher risk of more severe crashes thus linking the notion that brightly coloured cars are easier to spot in traffic, especially in lower light conditions compared to darker ones.

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Cooler and better for the environment

A 2011 experiment conducted at the Berkeley Lab Environmental Energy Technologies Division, California, USA, parked two identical Honda Civics in the sun, one black and one silver on a 38-degree Celsius day.

The cars went through five identical cycles of soaking in the sun. Each cycle consisted of one hour with the air conditioners off followed by thirty minutes of cooling with the air conditioners set to maximum.

Researchers constantly measured the roof, ceiling, dashboard, windshield, seat, door, vent air and cabin air temperatures in each car, and the external weather conditions in the lot.

At the apex of the soak phases of testing, the cabin air in the silver car, which had higher reflectance, was lower than that of the black car by 5 to 6 degrees Celsius. It was discovered that cooling the black car used two per cent more petrol than the silver one.

It was deduced that using white or silver paint with a solar reflectance of 0.60 instead of black would increase fuel economy by 2 per cent, decrease carbon dioxide emissions by 1.9 per cent and reduce other automotive emissions by about 1 per cent.

From the results, we can surmise that during scorching summer days, a white car will use less petrol which will in turn be more beneficial for the environment and potentially your wallet.

White and lighter coats of paint are cooler as they reflect roughly 60 per cent of sunlight compared to darker colours so it’s worth considering opting in for the basic white paint for your next car.

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