Silver vs White Cars: Which Color is the Best Option?


Silver was the most popular car color for a long time but has been overtaken by white in recent years, but which is the best choice for your new car? In this article I’ll be comparing the pros and cons of silver and white cars so you can decide which is the best option for you.

The Quick Answer

Silver cars are better at hiding dirt and deeper scratches and stone chips compared to white cars. However, white cars are often cheaper to buy when brand new, and have a better resale value compared to silver cars. White paint is also easier to color match in the event that a panel needs respraying.

Which Color Looks the Cleanest?

Silver cars hide dirt much better than white cars. If you live in an area which sees rain frequently, then you won’t notice the build up of traffic film that comes from driving on wet roads nearly as you much on a white car which highlights dirt and mud more easily.

If you live in a dry and warmer climate and dust is the main issue, then there’s not too much difference between a white and silver car. Since both colors are very light, dust build-up is far less noticeable compared to darker colors.

Winner: Silver

Price When New

When purchasing a car brand new, you’ll get the choice between the “standard” colors and “optional extras”. In almost all cases, solid white is free of charge on new cars, so it’s makes for a cost-effective option.

Silver cars have a metallic or pearlescent finish which is more time consuming to apply and the materials cost more compared to solid paint. Hence, you’ll usually have to pay a bit extra for a silver paint job from the factory. In most cases, this costs around $500-$750 (or £500-£800 in the UK).

Pearlescent white finishes are becoming increasingly popular compared to solid white finishes. Pearl paint has an iridescent effect which gives the car a subtle glow in the sun. However, if you go for a pearl white finish, be expecting to pay the same amount as you would for metallic silver as this is almost always an option extra on a new car.

Check out my comparison between pearl and metallic finishes to learn about the differences between the two options.

Winner: White

Resale Value

White cars typically have a better resale value compared to silver cars. If you are buying the car brand new and plan to sell it in a few years time then this is something worth considering. The difference isn’t huge when comparing silver and white cars, but you can expect to get a few hundred dollars/ pounds more on the used market for a white car because they are in slightly higher demand.

This makes white cars a pretty good purchase if you are getting one from brand new, because they are cheaper to purchase, but hold their value more. This means you could save up to $1000/ £1000 if you go for a white car, depending on the vehicle’s overall value.

Winner: White

Deep Scratches and Stone Chips

Lighter colors such as white and silver are not great at hiding deeper scratches than can be collected in the paintwork. Also, if you drive your car on faster roads and in peak times then it’s likely that the front-end will get some stone chips. White and silver unfortunately aren’t good at hiding this damage since the dark grey color of the chips stands out against the lighter paintwork. Silver cars are slightly better at masking them, but they will still sound out.

One thing you can do to prevent these stone chips is invest in some paint protection film (PPF) for the hood and bumper. This will protect the paintwork underneath and is a worthwhile investment if you are purchasing a high-end vehicle in particular.

Winner: Silver

Resprays and Color Matching

White paint is easier to color match than silver paint in the unfortunate event that a panel needs respraying. Since silver is a metallic color, the color matching process can be more tricky and an exact match to the original color is more difficult. Flat white is the easier color to match with the rest of the panels.

If the car is fairly new and the color is still in production, then it shouldn’t cause too much of an issue. However if you are purchasing an older silver car, or plan on keeping your car for a long time then this is something that might be worth considering.

Winner: White

Hiding Swirl Marks

Swirl marks are also known as clear coat scratches. A car’s finish consists of the primer, base coat (color) and a clear coat which sits on top and provides the gloss and protects the layers underneath. This clear coat can be scratched very easily when the car is washed.

Deeper clear coat scratches often look like spiderwebs under direct sunlight and will make the car look less shiny. Fortunately, these scratches can be prevented by careful washing. This means avoiding automatic and cheap roadside car washes, and using microfiber mitts instead of sponges and brushes.

If this is all news to you then I recommend checking out my complete guide to washing a car without causing scratches to learn all the basics.

So where does the color of the car tie into all this?

Well, lighter colors are better at masking this kind of damage in the clear coat because there is less contrast between the scratch in the clear coat and color underneath. Hence, they are considered more forgiving colors if the car is washed improperly.

White is the best color for hiding scratches and swirl marks in the clear coat, but silver is also a really good option. Metallic colors such as silver tend to hide these scratches more than solid colors, however nothing really beats white.

Winner: White

Are Some Colors Safer than Others?

There have been several studies indicating that white cars are less likely to be involved in accidents compared to any other car color. According to citywidelaw.com, silver cars are 10% more likely to be involved in an accident compared to the safest color (white or yellow depending on the study).

The theory is that white cars stand out more so are more visible to other drivers compared to silver regardless of the time of day.

However, there are many other factors which affect how “safe” a car is so the usefulness of these surveys is often questioned. You should also pay attention to the safety features that the vehicle is fitted with.

Despite white cars being statistically lest likely to be involved in collisions, there is no difference in the cost of insurance when comparing white and silver cars. This is because in the USA and UK, insurance companies do not consider the color of the car directly when calculating the cost of insurance. It can sometimes have an indirect effect though if the paint color was an option extra which increases the value of the car.

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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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