Black vs White Cars: Which Paint Color is the Best?


Black and white are currently the two most popular car colors worldwide, but which is the best choice for your next vehicle? In this article, I’ll compare all the pros and cons of black and white cars to help you figure out which option is right for you.

The Quick Answer

White cars hide dust and scratches and swirl marks more easily than black cars. White cars are also more visible to other drivers on the road and the panels do not get as hot in the sun. On the other hand, black cars are better at hiding stone chips and dirt and mud compared to white cars.

Hiding Dust and Dirt

White and black cars are relatively difficult to keep clean compared to other colors such as grey and silver. White cars are better in hotter and drier climates where dust is more of a problem than rain, as the light paintwork masks the dust more compared to a black car.

However, in areas which frequently see rain, then black is a better option. Driving through puddles or on high speed roads when it is raining will mean that the dirty water splashes up and sticks to the lower sections on the car. This “traffic film” is easier to spot on a white car as the contrast stands out more on this color compared to a black car.

Winner: White Hides Dust but Black Hides Dirt More

Which Color Looks Shinier?

Okay so what about when the car is clean, which car will look the best then?

Of course this is all personal preference, but it is usually easier to get a glossy wet-look on black paint compared to white paint. Darker colors help to enhance shine due to the reflections they create so they are typically a bit more eye-catching. However, some car owners prefer the crisp and clean look of a freshly washed white car.

The only issue with black paintwork is that it highlights imperections known as scratches and swirl marks more. Hence, if the car is washed improperly at roadside or automatic car washes, or using a sponge or brush at home, then the paint will look much duller (more on this later).

However, if you use the proper wash technique and keep the vehicle clean, then black is an incredibly rewarding color.

Winner: Black

Brand New Price

White cars are typically cheaper than black cars when purchased brand new. Most makes and models offer “standard” colors which are free of charge, the most common color being solid white. Metallic and pearlescent colors, and more exotic shades are usually and optional extra.

However, it is possible to get solid black paint included in the price as some manufacturers consider it to be a “standard color”. It’s often when you step up to metallic black that extra charges are incurred. Also, if you opt for a pearlescent white finish which is becoming increasingly popular, then you can also expect to pay extra.

Usually these premium pearlescent and metallic finishes cost around $500-$750 (or £500-£800) in the UK.

Winner: White

Resale Value

What about when you come to sell the car, does the color affect the price then? Well actually it can have quite a big impact on the resalve value of the vehicle.

Black and white cars both have above average resale values compared to other colors and there isn’t really any difference between the two. Since white and black cars are very popular, they command a higher price compared to more exotic colors on the used car market.

This is the case regardless of the type of vehicle in question, from hatchback to sports car, or SUV to saloon, buying a brand new black or white car is typically a good choice if you plan to sell it in a few years.

Winner: It’s a Draw

Hiding Paint Imperfections

I mentioned paint imperfections earlier on in the article, but I want to go into a bit more detail here. I’ll discuss three main types of imperfection:

  1. Deep scratches
  2. Clear coat scratches and swirls
  3. Stone chips

When it comes to hiding deeper scratches that have gone down to the color coat or primer, white is a better color than black. These scratches often appear either white or light grey, so white paint tends to mask them a bit more than black paint.

The second type of imperfection is a clear coat scratch or swirl mark. A car’s paintwork consists of a color coat which is topped with a clear coat which is designed to protect the color underneath and provide gloss. Unfortunately, this clear coat is very sensitive and easily scratched. These scratches usually occur during the wash process by using sponges and brushes.

Clear coat scratches are very visible in direct sunlight and often look like swirls or spider webs. However, they also cause the paint to look lighter and duller in all conditions.

If this is all news to you then make sure you check out my complete guide to washing a car without causing scratches and swirls to get the most from your car’s paint.

White cars are much better at hiding these clear coat scratches and swirls compared to black paint, since there is less contrast.

Finally, let’s talk about stone chips. These usually look dark grey in color so black cars are much better at hiding them compared to white cars where they stand out more. You can invest in front-end paint protection film (PPF) which shields the paintwork underneath from this kind of damage though. This can be a worthwhile investment if you are purchasing a high-end vehicle and drive on faster roads.

Winner: White

Visibility to Other Drivers

According to numerous studies, white cars are less likely to be involved in an accident compared to black cars. The theory is that white paint is more visible so other drivers can react to a white car more quickly. According to citywidelaw.com, white cars are 12% less likely to be involved in an accident compared to black cars.

However, there are a lot of other variables involved here that call into question these kinds of surveys. You should pay particular attention to the safety equipment that is fitted to the car as well.

Winner: White

Paint Temperature

The panels on a white car will not get as hot as a black car on a sunny day. White paint reflects all the colors of the spectrum so the paint does not heat up as quickly. Black paint on the other hand absorbs all colors of the spectrum so the paint can get incredibly hot.

Keeping the panels cooler helps to prevent water spots on the paint and chemical stains when washing the car so white cars are much easier to clean on a hot summer’s day.

Winner: White

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Heather

I first became interested in car detailing around 3 years ago and learnt all the main techniques on my very first car. I spend a lot of time detailing my current car, and trying to keep my family's cars looking presentable too!

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