Does car color matter? Many people ask that question before going shopping for a vehicle, and yes, color does affect some things.
After having personally owned both white and black cars – here’s what you should actually know about the difference between white and black cars!
Are White Or Black Cars Harder To Keep Clean?
I hear this question a lot, but if you take it at face value, it’s meaningless. Both white and black cars get dirty at similar rates in any particular environment.
What’s not as obvious is which car color “appears” dirty faster!
Unless you’ve actually owned both a white and black vehicle before, you’d probably be quick to guess that white cars look dirty faster. However, the opposite is actually true!
Color has essentially no meaningful impact on pollen, dust, dirt, and similar things that can dirty up a vehicle. Beyond that, however, each color has advantages and disadvantages for cleanliness.
Black vehicles show dirt and debris much faster, which means they’ll be visibly dirty much faster than white cars. This is the main issue most people I take to care about, and it’s often a deciding factor.
Keeping a black car looking pristine takes much more time and effort than cleaning a white car. By the same token, however, simply getting a black car clean in the first place is easier than doing the same thing to a white car.
The reason for this is that the dark color of a black vehicle helps hide minor smudges or imperfections. By comparison, it’s very obvious when you miss a spot while cleaning off your otherwise sparkling white car!
In contrast, white vehicles hide dirt and pollen much better than black cars. This means it takes much more debris for them to look visibly dirty from anything except the closest distance.
White cars don’t look dirty as fast, but since they hide dirt better, it can also take more time and effort to clean them. You’ll need to look much closer to get them completely clean.
Are White Or Black Cars Better?
This is one of the trickier questions I get because it’s hard to define what makes a car color “better” in the objective sense.
Is it the potential impact on resale value? The ease of cleaning? The effect on the car’s temperature? The price of getting that color?
Things that make a car color better for one person may be a negative for someone else. That’s why there’s no easy way to say that one color is better than the other.
However, we can analyze a few considerations to help you determine what’s better in your case!
First, as you can see in our first section above, car color impacts vehicle cleanliness. Cars tend to get dirty at the same rate, but white cars can go longer without being visibly dirty. Black cars are generally easier to clean, though, which makes a big difference for many people.
Second, as we’ll go into more detail below, color has a real impact on vehicle temperature. People in colder regions often prefer dark cars that absorb heat better, while people in hot areas may prefer vehicles that reflect light and heat instead of absorbing it.
Trust me on this one: You don’t want to own a black car when you’re living in a hot climate!
White vehicles won’t be cold, exactly, but there’s a difference between moderately warm and getting into a vehicle-sized sauna.
These are only a few of the considerations to keep in mind when deciding on a vehicle color. In other words, color isn’t exclusively aesthetics. It does have an impact on your driving experience, so what you choose matters.
Are White Or Black Cars More Expensive?
This is another complicated answer because there are a few components to it.
If you’re buying a brand-new vehicle straight from a manufacturer, there’s usually no difference in price between white and black vehicles. More specifically, there’s no difference to you, as the consumer.
White paint is a little more expensive than black paint on vehicles because they usually need extra coats and layers. Most companies don’t charge customers for the difference, though, so there’s no real difference for you.
The resale market is where things start to get tricky.
Typically, white cars are worth more than black cars on the resale market. A significant factor in this is the difference between supply and demand.
Black cars have been more popular for a while (as we’ll discuss below), but white cars have been growing in popularity recently. This means that more people want white vehicles than the market can supply, so average resale prices tend to be higher.
Resale prices may equalize over time as more white vehicles enter the market, but you can expect white cars to be more popular for the foreseeable future.
Black tends to be more expensive than white if you’re ordering a custom paint job. This is mainly because detailing cars with black paint tends to show more flaws and problems with the vehicle, and that takes both time and effort to fix.
However, the cost of such a paint job doesn’t directly translate to resale value. Black is so common to start with that many such vehicles are already available.
In short, black and white vehicles usually have similar (or even identical) prices when you’re buying them new. However, white vehicles tend to be worth more on the resale market, so they’re ultimately a better long-term investment.
Are White Or Black Cars More Popular?
Historically, black cars have been somewhat more popular than white cars.
That’s been true as recently as 2018 when CarMax did a study on vehicle sales and found that black cars were about 22.25% of the market, and white cars had about 19.34%. Gray and silver are usually just behind the two top colors.
However, the market is slowly changing. More recently, Germain’s analysis found white cars increasing to 23.9% on the roads, with black cars settling in close behind at 23.2% (higher than a few years ago).
That’s a huge gain for white vehicles as a section of the market, and they’ll likely hold the position for some time.
There are many reasons for the changing popularity of colors, but we can pinpoint a few reasons for it. The first is that white vehicles are objectively safer, which is a significant consideration for many buyers. Vehicles on the darker end of the spectrum, like black, lead to noticeably more crashes.
Another reason for white’s popularity is that vehicle colors tend to follow other trends in technology. In recent years, Apple’s minimalist white approach for products like iPhones has made white quite popular overall.
In other words, white cars are often seen as more sleek and modern than other vehicle colors. When you add that to their added safety, it’s no surprise that white is currently the most popular color for vehicles.
To a lesser extent, most people don’t get bored of white as a vehicle color. Flashier colors can lose personal appeal over time, but basic white, gray, and silver cars don’t call enough attention to lose.
However, while white has the crown, black is still an extremely popular color overall. The colors in third-place and beyond are at least a few percentage points behind, and that’s a big gap for new vehicles to fill.
White vs. Black Car Temperature
White cars are scientifically cooler (temperature-wise) than black cars if you leave them out in the sun.
The exact temperature changes depend on variables like exposure to sunlight, what percent of the car is covered in windows, and what time of day it is, but the temperature difference gets more pronounced the hotter the area tends to be.
Some experiments have shown that black cars can get more than 15 degrees hotter than white cars when left out in the sun. That’s most common in areas that are hot, to begin with, such as the southern areas of California, but temperature differences are noticeable even in colder regions.
This is a major concern for some buyers!
In colder regions, the way black cars heat up faster is often a valuable trait and may actually make them more appealing!
If it’s particularly cold out, black vehicles will heat up faster and melt ice quicker. They’re also easier to spot in the snow, which is helpful if snow is particularly heavy.
In warmer regions, the fact that white vehicles reflect as much as 60% more light and heat means it takes much less energy to get them back to a comfortable temperature. That has an impact on things like vehicle emissions and, ultimately, climate change.
While the savings on an individual vehicle basis are relatively low, the cumulative effect of even a few percentage points of savings can reduce gas consumption by billions of gallons per year. It barely needs to be said that this can have a significant impact on climate change.
In short, white vehicles are generally cooler and ultimately better for the environment than black vehicles. I can’t say white vehicles are clearly better because black vehicles still have advantages for colder regions, but on average, white vehicles win out on their merits.
There’s one other note for this category, though: the interior color. Dark-colored interiors absorb heat the same way black paint does, so if you want to maximize cooling efficiency, make sure the inside of your car is as light as possible.