Tips from Used Car Advisor

Car Advisor Tamotsu Todoroki

Hi, this is Tamotsu Todoroki. I am a car advisor of
I write an online column every week to take care of your vehicle. My column is all about something useful and practical for your vehicle. Please have a look once to keep your car in good condition.


Which Car Colors Show Dirt More? - Vol.336

Choosing a paint color for your car can be a pain. If, like many others, you are stuck trying to decide what shade to go with, maybe it will help you narrow down your choices to consider how visible the natural dirt and dust that build up over time on your car's exterior will be with different colors. The first thing eliminate is what colors you definitely do not want to use. If you absolutely abhor green, don't want to pay the extra insurance cost for owning a red vehicle, or think brown is too ugly, you can narrow down which colors you are amenable to using and pick between them based on which hides dirt the best.

But first:

The No-Nos: Worst car colors for hiding dirt
Can you guess which two paint colors display every spec of dirt on your car's exterior to the maximum?

I'll give you a hint: they're incredibly popular.

If you guessed "black" and "white", bingo!

White provides the maximum contrast with dirt and dust, providing a blank canvas with which to display to your neighbors exactly how long it's been since it has had a good wash. In the magical world of light, white represents the property of all wavelengths of the visible light spectrum being reflected from the surface. If you've ever had to clean a mirror before, you know what I mean when I say that the light being reflected all around the dust allows you to see it from every angle...ew! When you want to avoid seeing a 'Wash Me' written on your passenger door, steer clear of the white paint job.

Black is usually the color people guess to be the best for hiding dirt. Maybe that's because black jeans hide stains better, or because black shoes do a pretty decent job as well (until they fade, of course). But when you're talking about the glossy surface of a car's exterior, you have to remember what black means back in the world of light; the color black is the property of an object absorbing all wavelengths of the visible light spectrum. What this means is that most of the light being reflected back into your eyes is the light coming off those unsightly dirt splotches. You won't even see the car behind the dust!

The Right Stuff: Best car colors for hiding dirt:
The trick to masking the dust on your automobile is to choose a mid-tone, neutral color. Aside from sorting through various pigments for a bright-but-not-too-bright color to achieve this, the best method is to pick something right between black and white: silver, pewter, or grey.

Not only do these colors look sleek and modern, but they play just the right tricks with light to hide dirt and dust at first, second, and sometimes even third glance. Unless you've been driving through the mud recently, it can be hard to see the standard build up on a grey exterior. If you're not excited about hitting the car wash every week or two, the best thing you can do is pick a nice silvery tone to maintain the professional look even on a lazy day. If you're not a fan of silvers/pewters/greys, another good alternative would be champagne, beige, taupe, bronze, or another mid-tone metallic color of similar quality.

These colors also have an added bonus of hiding dents and scratches better than other colors, as well as staying cool enough to prevent heat blistering but not so cool that moisture sticks around too long and speeds up the natural oxidation (rust) of a metal car.