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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.

Make a Safer Pick

Used Car Safety Ratings help identify safer models among second-hand vehicles. Vehicles labelled Safer Pick not only provide excellent protection for the driver, but cause less serious injury to other drivers, pedestrians, bicycle riders and motorcyclists in a collision, and are fitted with certain crash-avoidance technologies, making them less likely to be involved in a crash.

Safety ratings are provided for nearly 300 models based on vehicle records from nearly 9 million vehicles involved in police-reported road crashes. The vehicle’s size and weight, design, and safety features, such as airbags and types of seatbelts, are all taken into account.

Research by Monash University shows that you are eight times more likely to be killed or seriously injured driving the worst rated vehicle, than in the safest vehicle.

The guide was developed by Monash University Accident Research Centre on behalf of the Vehicle Safety Research Group, which includes Transport for NSW, as well as other Australian and New Zealand transport agencies.


Choose the highest star ratings

Watch our crash test videos to see how choosing a three-star rated 2009 Holden Cruze over a one-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 three-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 one-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.


Choose the safest new models

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

ANCAP provides Australian and New Zealand consumers with independent vehicle safety ratings for more than 200 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.