Centre for Road Safety

Choose the safest used car

Our crash test videos show how side airbags could save your life in a side-on crash into a pole, tree, other vehicle or object.

Although the same model was used in these tests, only one car was fitted with side airbags. If you were driving the car with side airbags, your chance of a serious head injury is about 1 per cent. But without side airbags, this jumps to 98 per cent.

Always choose a used car with the highest safety rating, and make sure it is fitted with as many safety features as possible for that model. Your choice of car can be the difference between survival or being seriously injured or killed if you are in a crash.

Our Buyers Guide to Used Car Safety Ratings helps identify the safest models among second-hand vehicles.

Choose the highest star ratings

Watch our crash test videos to see how choosing a five-star rated 2009 Holden Cruze over a two-star rated 2007 Mitsubishi Lancer could save your life in a crash.

Even though both these used cars cost less than $10,000, the damage to the vehicles when crashed into each other at 60 km/h is vastly different.

The five-star rated silver Holden Cruze  has only minor damage to the dashboard, while the cabin area around the driver is still intact.

If you were driving the two-star rated red Mitsubishi Lancer, it’s likely you would have been seriously injured or killed. The dashboard has been severely damaged, and combined with the steering wheel would have severely crushed the driver’s lower body and legs.

Our Buyers Guide to Used Car Safety Ratings helps identify safer models among second-hand vehicles. Safety ratings of between one and five stars have been given to a wide selection of vehicles manufactured within the past 20 years. The ratings assess how well each vehicle protects its occupants in a crash and are based on real-world crash data.

Research by Monash University suggests that if every young driver drove the safest car according to their budget, young driver fatalities would drop by 60 per cent. The research also shows that a driver of the worst vehicle rated is more than six times as likely to be killed or seriously injured in the same crash as the same driver in the best rated vehicle.

The guide's Safe Pick rating  is only given to cars that provide the highest level of safety to their occupants, are fitted with electronic stability control and pose the lowest risk to other road users.

The guide was developed by Monash University Accident Research Centre on behalf of the Vehicle Safety Research Group, which includes Transport for NSW, the National Roads & Motorists' Association, plus other Australian and New Zealand transport agencies and motoring clubs.

Choose the safest new models

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) is Australasia's leading independent vehicle safety advocate.

ANCAP provides Australian and New Zealand consumers with independent vehicle safety ratings for more than 500 vehicles. The level of occupant and pedestrian protection provided by new cars is rated using physical crash tests and the assessment of collision avoidance technologies.

The more stars, the better the vehicle performed in ANCAP tests. To achieve the maximum five star ANCAP safety rating, a vehicle must achieve the highest standards in all tests and feature advanced safety assist technologies.

Since 1992, ANCAP has published crash test results for a wide range of new passenger and light commercial vehicles sold in Australia and New Zealand. ANCAP is supported by all Australian and New Zealand motoring clubs, the Australian Government, the New Zealand Government, Australian state and territory governments, the Victorian Transport Accident Commission, NRMA Insurance and the FIA Foundation.

More information

The Transport Accident Commission, Victoria, provides car buyers with independent safety information on new and used cars on the How safe is your car website.