Car Paint Colors:
Decide carefully!

Choosing the best car paint colors might not be as simple as you think.

Some people default to what causes the greatest emotional reaction, while others default to what car paint color is the easiest to maintain.

As a business owner from the world of professional auto detailing, I am commonly asked what the best car paint color is.

red Ferrari showing one of best car paint colors

In order to to even begin answering this question it is necessary to define the question more precisely.

Not All Paint Colors Are Created Equal

Finding or choosing the "best" of anything is far more than a basic question. Choosing the best will always be the winning balance of what you as a person values with regards to attributes and benefits.

  • Most dramatic color?
  • Easiest color to maintain?
  • Paint color that will keep your car cooler during hot summer months?

With these (3) bullet points I have likely begun to expand your thinking when t comes to choosing the best car paint color for your next car.

If you are here searching for what is the "best car color", then follow along as I expand your thinking and allow you to make a more informed decision.

black aston martin best car paint color

"Most people choose the color of their car based on emotion rather than logic, reason, or experience."

I am often asked as a professional dealer which car color is the easiest or hardest to take care of. Most people recognize that black is the most difficult, and subsequently think that white would therefore be the easiest.

If you think the same, you would be wrong...

So let's examine the different car paint colors and let me show you from my professional experience what you will signing onto based on the color of choice in your next car.

Perhaps with this updated information the next time you are shopping, you will be able to factor in more of the variables when choosing what you consider to be the best paint color of your next car.

Black is the Hardest. White is the Easiest.

This is the most commonly held opinion when it comes to any discussion regarding car paint colors. As a professional, I do agree that black paint is the most difficult of all car paint colors to wash, polish, or wax.

But I will tell you that white as the default answer as the easiest car paint color to take care of is based on binary thinking. 

If black paint is the hardest paint color to maintain, then certainly white would be the easiest.

I can tell you that anyone who says this, is speaking from limited experience.

Once You Try Black....

You will likely never go back.

Choosing a black car will quickly prove to be a love/hate relationship!

It is hard to choose a paint color that causes a more dramatic emotional reaction than black car paint! The vivid reflections of black paint are like no other.

Very few people can deny the emotional reaction that a freshly cleaned and detailed black car will produce! This is the "love" part of the relationship.

Ferrari in black car paint

The problem sets in when it comes to producing results on a black car. Everything will prove more difficult due to the nature of black paint. Thus sets in the "hate" part of the relationship.

Ask anyone who has ever owned, or currently owns a black car and they will tell you of the frustration a black car represents. So for most people, I recommend you stay away from black despite what your emotions are screaming at you the next time you happen to see a very shiny black car.

  • Among the most dramatic colors visually when detailed correctly.
  • The hottest color; literally.
  • Not only will the paint heat up to the temperature of the sun, but will cause the interior to heat up proportionately along with it.
  • Black shows every nuance of paint flaws.
  • Black car paint is the hardest color to keep clean.
  • Will show dust from the moment you stop cleaning, until the moment you start cleaning once again!
  • Black interiors hide actual dirt the best, but enhance the superficial dirt like dust, debris, and lint.
  • Experience has shown that unless you have an excess of time and money, the love/hate relationship between your black car will reside mostly on the hate.

White May Seem Like the Winning Paint Color...

If you were to take a poll, most people would say that white car paint represents the easiest car paint color to take care of.

At a casual observation this makes sense, but the reality is that white is not the easiest car color to take care of. Before I take you to what I consider the easiest paint color to maintain, let's have a look at the benefits of white paint.

BMW white car paint color
  • One of the easiest colors to own; makes it on the top 3 for ease of maintenance.
  • White car paint hides dirt and grime very well overall.
  • Reveals road grime kicked up by tires (as opposed to hiding the road grime like a darker colored car would)
  • White car paint still remains the most popular car color.
  • Just like in the fashion world, white makes things look larger as opposed to the slimming and reducing color of black.
  • Most forgiving with heat/temperature factors. (the white paint will not heat up like darker colors, and will not subsequently cause the interior to heat up like darker colored cars)
  • Interiors of these car paint colors usually come in black, grey, or tan; black is the best choice for all around ease of maintenance as the lighter interiors will show actual dirt much more.

I Want My Car To Be The Color Of "Dust"

This may seem like a very odd way to describe a paint color. Which is certainly why car manufacturers don't label this specific color as "Dust" but something far more sophisticated like champagne or taupe.

After all, how many of us want to announce to our family and friends our new car is "dust" color?

easiest car paint color to take care of

Not to belittle you and your car if you happen to own a car that is "dust" color, but it is this very reason that this color represents the easiest car paint color to take care of.

Under normal conditions, it will be dust that will make your car look progressively dirtier and dirtier the longer you go between car washings.

There are many versions out there, but the picture above shows one example of a version of this color that basically looks like the color of dust!

  • The easiest, most forgiving color of all car paint colors.
  • Basically the color of dust, therefore even dust doesn't show until a healthy layer has been allowed to accumulate when compared to other car colors.
  • Since it is not white, road grime that gets kicked up from the road is less noticeable than that of a white car.
  • This light color is very forgiving with regards to heat transfer to the car interior during hotter months.

Other Car Paint Colors:
The pros and cons

Since we have only touched upon what you might call the extremes of automotive paint colors, let's have a look at some additional color choices and see how they rate on the scale of difficulty with regard to care and maintenance.

I will also be touching upon more than just the duties of maintenance and heat build-up, but also what I call the  "signaling cue" that certain colors will signal to the world as part of what we as people broadcast to society in how we dress, talk, walk, etc., etc.

Most people would accept that a red Ferrari in many ways represents a type of cliche' or stereotype.

And similar to red, other car paint colors announce their own type of messaging based on the paint color. I will include these points along the way also.

Yellow Car Paint

Yellow is up there with red as far as attention grabbing. And not every person or every car can pull off yellow as the color of choice.

Very few paint colors scream "attention" like yellow does.

Porsche 911 turbo S in bright yellow car paint color

I am of the opinion that only certain cars have the ability to pull yellow off as paint color. I look at yellow as almost juvenile in that it screams attention.

But there are certain cars or vehicles that are unique and novel enough to pull off yellow. My default examples would be the following:

  • Porsche
  • Lamborghini
  • Ferrari
  • Jeep Wrangler

There is a reason you don't see too many bright yellow cars on the road -unless of course your local taxi cabs are fitted with yellow as the color scheme.

Past the "signaling" that yellow paint does, it falls right in the middle when it comes to care and maintenance. If you are a fan of yellow, it represents in many ways the winning balance:

  • Creates a strong emotional response (this could be both a negative or positive response)
  • Generally a pretty easy color to maintain
  • Doesn't heat up nearly as hot as darker colored cars

Dark Metallic Blue Car Paint

bentley in dark metallic blue paint

Not as truly difficult as black, but a close second or third down.

  • Not black, but almost as difficult and frustrating.
  • Will not reach the surface temperature that black will sitting in the sun soaking up all those UV rays; but close!
  • Still very dramatic visually and definitely will cause that good emotional reaction with people.

Red Car Paint

Dodge Challenger red car paint color

Red is synonymous with sports cars and speeding tickets.

While the speeding ticket part is more of an urban legend (the urban legend is that red cars notoriously and unfairly get more speeding tickets by the mere nature of the color red being more visible than other colors) than any actual proven statistic, red certainly creates a strong emotional reaction from people and seems most appropriate on sports cars as a rule.

  • Much easier than black, but still difficult when it comes to dust, swirl marks, spider-webbing, etc.
  • Much friendlier than the darker colors with regard to heat transfer from UV rays from the sun.
  • A real head turner when detailed to perfection.
  • Creates a good "backdrop" to black trim accents

Burgundy Car Paint

Mercedes CLS55 AMG in burgundy paint color

A deep, metallic burgundy certainly sits at the top of emotionally charged colors. Any of the dark colors create deep shadows and show a depth of paint unlike any of the lighter colored cars. Which is exactly why they are such a love/hate relationship for car owners of these dark colored cars.

  • Almost as difficult as black.
  • Subject to high heat transfer from suns UV rays.
  • Prone to show all the blemishes and imperfections of any of the other car paint colors.
  • Very dramatic when detailed to perfection.

Light Blue Car Paint

Most people consider light blue a "chick" color. I agree with this classification.

Light blue is a "nice" color and represents a certain degree of class and sophistication, but also what I consider anti-climatic as a choice in car choice.

Light blue also represents the half-way point between what many would call the boring colors of the light paints, and still a level of visual excitement.And with all that said, light blue is an easy color to maintain overall.

Mercedes E550 light blue paint color

And similar to yellow, many would consider light blue as the winning balance of emotional reaction, ease of maintenance, and decent heat deflection.

  • One of the many colors most people would consider the winning combination of the pros and cons.
  • Not too light, not too dark.
  • Easy on the care and maintenance side.
  • Easy on heat build-up of UV lighting.

Light Metallic Grey

Light metallic grey has always been one of my favorite car paint colors. It has the ability to create a deep emotional reaction without the headaches of maintenance that darker colored cars would present.

This metallic paint color signals a degree of sophistication and class.

Mercedes Benz E63 light metallic grey car paint

More of a mans color versus the some of the "chick" colors. Light metallic grey represents the very same pros and cons of the half-way point in color options:

  • Considered an elegant and sophisticated car paint color.
  • Easy on care and maintenance.
  • Easy on heat build-up from suns UV lighting.
  • The winning combination for many.

Metallic Silver Paint

If you have been playing along with my "what car paint color is the easiest to take care of" game and you have a decent amount of experience, you may have called out silver as the ultimate winner with ease of maintenance.

If you did, you would not have been far off. But despite how easy silver is to maintain as a car color, it still is not quite as easy as champagne or taupe.

Silver is easy, but it still isn't the actual color of dust.

Mercedes Benz CL63 metallic silver car paint color

When I was younger, I considered silver to one of the more "boring" car paint colors.

Now days I consider silver as one of my favorite choices in car paint due to the winning balance of characteristics of some of the other car paint colors I have covered here.

  • Not the color of dust, but light enough without being white to be almost the color of dust.
  • Doesn't show the road grime like a true white car will.
  • Very forgiving with regard to heat build-up.
  • I personally love how silver can match many of the OE wheels that are finished in a silver color (as is the case with this silver MBZ)

Making Practical Decisions with Car Paint Colors

While the examples above do not represent every possible color option, perhaps I have given you some things to consider next time you go to purchase your next car.

While so many are seduced into the darker cars due to the strong emotional reaction they create, you might think twice next time...

unless of course you have already been bitten by the black car syndrome of that love/hate relationship.

People all love when black or dark colored cars are clean and shiny, but hate the way dust shows up immediately and it seems they are dirty more than they are ever clean!

If you do have the "pleasure" of owning a black or dark colored car and are looking for the best car wax to use for these emotionally inducing colors then visit my best car wax review for some professional tips.

Best of luck when choosing the perfect paint color of your nest car!


Darren Priest