Consumer magazine Which? says motorists can waste thousands by picking a trendy colour like bright green or yellow, which can date quickly, or by opting for a dreary shade, which can knock off 10% of a cars value.
Having a blue, red or metallic silver car were found to be the best choices for attracting second hand buyers.
Which? gives the example of a Ford Focus 1.6 16 valve LX four door salon in diamond white with automatic gearbox, traction control and satellite navigation.
After three years the £16,000 vehicle will be worth £4,875.
By contrast a £15,795 Focus 1.8 TDCi Ghia 5-door in metallic grey would sell for £6,995.