What Car Colors Are the Worst at Hiding Scratches, Dents, and Dirt?

When car shopping, many consumers decide which color to get based on the one they like the most. But a car’s hue could affect more than just its stylishness. For instance, there’s the belief that red cars attract police attention and get their drivers ticketed more often. But there are also practical reasons, including easier maintenance, for choosing certain shades. In fact, some colors are worse than others at hiding imperfections like scratches, dents, and dirt.

Many car colors from which to choose

Anyone who has ever shopped for a vehicle knows there’s a vast array of car colors. Consumers can go with a basic, traditional hue, like black or white, or something more eye-catching, like candy apple red. For a more unique look, pink or purple would do the trick.

And within each colorway, various shades make the choice even harder for some shoppers. But whatever car color someone chooses, they better like it because they’ll likely be driving that vehicle for years.

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Kelley Blue Book lists some of the most popular car colors for 2021. The publication says Pantone’s top two car colors this year are ultimate gray and illuminating, a sunny yellow hue. The paint company PPG hasn’t released its 2021 list yet, but its roundup of the most popular car colors in North America for 2020 is available. And the top four account for 86 percent of all vehicles. The list is as follows:

  1. White, 26 percent
  2. Black and gray, 19 percent each
  3. Silver, 12 percent
  4. Blue, 10 percent
  5. Red, 9 percent
  6. Natural, 2.5 percent
  7. Green, 2.5 percent
  8. Other, 0.5 percent

That ranking is for all vehicle classes, but there isn’t much variation among vehicle segments. White tops the list for SUVs, minivans, pickup trucks, and sedans, while white metallic is number one for luxury cars.

The best and worst colors for hiding scratches, dents and dirt

Most drivers want their vehicles to look new for as long as possible because it’s a big investment, and they want it to be worth the money. However, that’s not easy to do when driving a car on dirty or wet roads. Parking in public places such as lots and garages also leaves vehicles vulnerable to dents and scratches from other drivers’ cars and shopping carts. But a car’s color could affect how such minor imperfections show up.

White is the best color for hiding dents and scratches, Kirmac reports. The bright color helps minimize the appearance of the flaws, especially on bright days with the sun out. Other light colors, such as silver and gray, are also good if you want to try to conceal surface scratches and dirt. Lighter colors help scratches blend in with the paint, so they aren’t as noticeable as they would be on some other colors.

On the flip side, it’s no surprise that if white is a good color for hiding scratches, black is the worst hue to accomplish that goal. With black essentially being the opposite of white, it maximizes the appearance of scratches, especially in sunlight. The same logic applies to other dark colors — such as dark gray and navy blue — making them poor colors for hiding scratches and dents.