Should You Buy a Red Car? (Pros and Cons of Red Cars)


Red is one of the more popular car colors available due to its striking appearance. However, there are a few things you should know about red paint before going ahead and purchasing your new car. In this article I’ll take you through the pros and cons or owning a red car and dispel some myths about the color. You’ll also get some insider knowledge on what it’s like to live with a red vehicle as I have personally owned red cars for 6 years!

Pros and Cons of Red Cars

The main advantage of a red car is that it is very eye catching and more interesting than many other color options. However, red cars are more prone to fading than other colors, and they show dust and dirt more easily than lighter colors so need to be cleaned regularly and kept protected.

Red Cars are Very Eye Catching

One of the biggest draws of a red car is that they look very striking. Red is often associated with sports cars, but also works really well on smaller hatchbacks. It’s a much more interesting color than white, silver and grey and red paint looks super glossy when the sun comes out.

Red light has the longest wavelength and is easier to see than most colors from a distance. The amount of difference this makes in a practical sense is hard to quantify, but some car owners find their red vehicles easier to spot in a car park, and think that other drivers can see red cars more easily on the road.

My Mazda MX-5 in “soul red crystal metallic”

Red Cars Often Cost More When Buying New

Metallic red paint in particular is usually an option extra and usually costs at least £500/ $750 as an upgrade on most brand new cars compared to standard flat white paint jobs. However, most other metallic colors also come at a premium compared to solid colors and it is rarer that red specifically will incur an extra charge.

Red Cars Have an Average Resale Value

There is some evidence to suggest that red cars have a lower resale value compared to white, black, silver and grey cars. However, it does depend on the vehicle and the type of red.

Red metallic paint is generally more desirable which means used cars command a higher price compared flat solid red cars. For example, Mazda’s flagship colour is “soul red crystal metallic” which costs extra when chosen on a brand new model, meaning that the used cars also are typically more expensive when in red compared to white or black.

The type of car will also make a difference here too. Smaller hatchbacks and sports cars in red tend to hold their value better than large SUV, estate and saloon cars which hold their value more when painted a more subtle color such as white, grey, silver or black.

Red Cars Do Not Hide Dust and Dirt Very Well

Red paint isn’t the worst colour to keep clean, but it isn’t the best either. Red paint will highlight dust quite easily and will still show mud splatters more than other colors such as black, grey and silver. However, they won’t show mud as easily as white cars.

I personally own a red car and like to keep it looking clean all the time. This means I need to wash it weekly in order for it to maintain the “showroom look”.

Red Paint Gets Quite Hot in the Sun

Since red is a relatively dark color, the paint will heat up more quickly on a sunny day compared to lighter silver and white cars, but less so compared to black vehicles.

This may not seem like a huge issue, but it can make washing the car a bit more difficult on a warmer day because the water is more likely to evaporate and leave water marks behind. The same goes when it rains and the car is sat still so the water dries on the panel.

Water marks not only look unsightly, but they can also cause etching, which means they eat into the paintwork and cause damage if they are left on there for too long. Check out my article on prevent water spots to learn more.

Red Cars Oxidise and Fade More Quickly

Red paint fades more quickly than any other color. Red light has the longest wavelength, which is reflected by the red paint. All other colors of the spectrum are absorbed by the red paint and these colors have sorter wavelengths which are more energetic. This causes the paint to fade more quickly.

If you are buying a brand new car and are only keeping it for a few years then this will not cause an issue. However, if you are purchasing an older car or plan to keep it for a long time then you will need to take some steps to prevent the paint from fading.

Applying some paint protection to the car in the form of a wax, sealant or ceramic coating will help protect it from UV damage so it doesn’t fade as quickly. You should also park it inside or in the shade if possible. However, make sure you don’t park it under a tree because this will make it a magnet for bird poo and tree sap which are also very bad for the paintwork.

Red Cars Show Scratches and Marks Easily

There are two main types of scratches you’ll see on a car.

  • The first type of scratch is known as a base coat/ primer coat scratch which is visible all the time and will look either white or grey in color. These scratches are caused by abrasion usually from bumps and scrapes.
  • The second type of scratch is known as a clear coat scratch and these are only visible in direct sunlight and often look like swirls or spider webs. Clear coat scratches are caused during the wash process from things like sponges and brushes.

It is possible to prevent clear coat scratches by using proper wash technique. I recommend checking out my guide to washing a car without causing scratches if you want to look after your paintwork properly and keep it looking shiny.

Red cars show both types of scratches easily because they are relatively dark. Lighter colors will hide these imperfections more, and black cars will show them the most.

Red Car Myths

There are a couple of myths floating about regarding red cars that need dispelling in this next section.

Red Cars Do Not Get Pulled Over More

The first myth is that red cars get pulled over by traffic officers more often. However, this is not the case and there is no evidence to suggest that this is the case. The idea behind this myth comes from the fact that red cars are more eye catching and red paint is often used on sports cars.

Red Cars Do Not Cost More to Insure

Red cars do not cost more to insure than any other color. In the USA, the color of a car is not a factor which insurance companies consider when calculating the cost of insurance. However, it can have an indirect effect if the color costs more from the factory and makes the overall worth of the vehicle greater.

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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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