How important is the colour of your next car?

green lamborghini

Toby Hagon

Posted April 27, 2022

Just as art is subjective to taste, everyone has their own preference when it comes to colours. However, there should be more head over heart when choosing the colour of your next car.

Sometimes the choice of what colour car to buy is a natural one. Red for a Ferrari, black for a limousine and white for a tradie ute. 

Beyond that, things can get very grey. 

While choosing the colour of your next car will largely come down to personal preference, it’s worth considering broader factors that could impact your ownership. 

The luxury of choice

Most cars come with a choice of between four and eight colours.

Every colour adds production complexity and cost. As well as research and development to ensure it looks good from all angles, across different materials, and will last a decade or more in the Aussie weather.

Factor in trim and engine choices and each colour multiplies how many different vehicles are being produced.

Little wonder most manufacturers charge extra for 'premium' colours, such as pearls and metallics.

If you’re buying a top-end model, often the choices are limitless. If you want your car to match the hue of your childhood teddy or your favourite pair of shoes? The likes of Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Ferrari can make it happen.

Look smart

Colour choices often come down to the type of car. A sports car is often available in vibrant, bright colours that go with the head-turning nature of the car.

Luxury cars tend to be many shades of silver, white, grey or black.

While they’re often available in rich metallic colours such as blues and reds, they are often not the ones the masses choose when they’re signing on the dotted line. Conservative genes take over.

Think about the future

It’s great to have the latest and greatest, but that bright green or fiery orange may date quickly or run out of ‘wow factor’.

Hence the reason many settle for silver, these days one of the most popular choices.

Similarly, the more radical colours can be trickier to sell when it comes time to trade them in, according to the general manager of, Ross Booth.

“Generally it is harder to sell [a bold, bright colour],” he says, pointing out that there will typically be fewer buyers for it, something that “impacts the time [taken] to sell, not necessarily the value”.

However, because people are often keen to sell a car swiftly once they put the car on the market, they’ll sometimes accept a lower price to save waiting for that one buyer that really, really wants a bright orange car.

In other words, those more daring colours can sometimes be harder to sell and so could cost you money.

If you want to be safe, Booth says “silver is the new white”.


Silver has become one of the world's most popular car colour choices. Image: Getty

Keep it clean

Black cars look fantastic when they’re fresh out of the car wash, but they can quickly look unloved and unkempt after rain or a big road trip. Similarly, darker colours are quick to show dings and scratches, according to Colin Stevenson, a repair industry consultant for HC Stevenson Consultancy.

“The lighter the colours, the less it shows the imperfections,” says Stevenson, who is a former paint technician and someone who has worked in the industry for more than four decades.  He also says a harsher environment will take its toll on paint over years – and that dark colours often fare worse.

“UV is what kills paint,” says Stevenson, saying that cars parked outside in Queensland often look worse than an identical model that’s spent its life in Tasmania. He says it doesn’t help that darker colours absorb heat more easily, something that over many years can accelerate ageing.

Staying cool

Car colour can make a big difference to the temperature in the car – and, ultimately, the efficiency of the vehicle. A 2011 study by Berkeley Lab in California found that a black car parked in the sun on a 38-degree-Celsius day resulted in a roof that was about 25 degrees hotter than the silver car parked alongside it.

The differences in the cabin were a lot less – about 5-6 degrees Celsius – but that was enough to force the air-conditioning to work harder to bring the interior of the car down to 25 degrees after half an hour. The study concluded the additional work the AC system had to do could increase fuel use by about 1.1 per cent, something that could add up over many years.

Safe as…

Studies have also found colour can affect a vehicle’s safety, predominantly because of its visibility to other vehicles. A 2007 study partially funded by the RACV and conducted by the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) found white and other light-coloured vehicles were less likely to be involved in a crash. A higher crash risk was identified for colours “generally lower on the visibility index”, including “black, blue, grey, green, red and silver”.

Those differences in crash risk were around 10 per cent but were “strongest during daylight hours”, although the MUARC report noted “colour is a much less influential crash risk modifier than behavioural traits such as drink driving and speeding which can alter crash risks by orders of magnitude”.

It’s enough to get you thinking about the colour of your next car, because it isn’t always just about the look.


The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit As distributor, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Product(s) issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678.