US survay shows gold-colours two-door cars such as this Nissan GT-R have the worst depreciation of all - almost one percent of their value a month.

Boston, Massachusetts - We all have our preferences when it comes to car colours; many people won’t buy a green car because of the urban legend that green cars are involved in more crashes than cars of any other colour.

And anybody in the industry will tell you that white, silver and black are the most popular car colours worldwide - but have you ever stopped to consider that the colour of the used car you are looking at may affect its value?

No we’re not kidding; researchers at American car search engine iSeeCars.com analysed more than 2.1 million sales of three-year-old cars and found that depreciation varied widely across different car colours.

While these figures apply only to the United States, the sample is huge and the trends clear; the results could save you money on your next pre-owned car, if you use it as a basis for shopping around.

Here we go:

The average car in  the United States loses a third (33.1 percent) of its value in the first three years - but yellow cars lose only 27 percent, while gold-coloured cars drop 37.1 percent of their value in the first 36 months.

Orange and green cars are even less common (there’s that urban legend again); together they make up only 1.2 percent of the US domestic market but hold their value well above average.

Rarity value, right? Wrong. The three worst colours - beige, purple, and gold - have combined market share of just 0.7 percent, but depreciate more than 10 percent worse than the industry average.

And it has very little to do with mileage.

The survey showed that three-year-old two-door coupés tend to have lower odometer readings than the equivalent sedans. Across the board, coupés lose only 29.2 percent of their value over the first three years against the industry average of 33.1 percent - but gold-coloured two-doors lose a whopping 35.8 percent of their value - that’s one percent every month! - despite generally lower odometer readings than similar cars of other colours.

The most popular colours depreciate at close to the industry rate, indicating that because there’s lots of them on the market, customers can shop around for the best deal, leaving sellers with not much wriggle room.

The website advises US customers looking for a new car to consider something in yellow, orange or green because, on average, they’ll get better value if they sell it after three years - but if you’re looking for a used car, gold, purple or beige are the colours to go for since the previous owner will have already taken a bigger depreciation hit.

The differences may not be as great in South Africa since our car market is smaller and customers, if anything, even more conservative in their colour choices - but it could still be worth your while to shop around, comparing prices of popular colours with unusual shades, before you sign on the dotted line.

IOL Motoring