Check the safety rating before you buy a used car

02 Sep 2015

More than 40 percent of used cars have scored excellent or good rating in this year’s Used Car Safety Rating Guide.

The safety rating is a good indicator of the level of protection drivers can expect in a crash.

Factors like price, colour, seating capacity and make are important when purchasing a car,but safety should be on the top of your list.

This year’s guide examines 217 vehicles and identifies the models which offer better protection in a crash, not only for occupants, but for all road users.

These independent ratings indicate that a driver of the worst-rated vehicle is more than six times as likely to be killed or seriously injured in the same crash as a driver in the best-rated vehicle.

It is particularly important that young drivers look at purchasing one of the top-rated vehicles, given that they have a higher than average crash rate.

A recent crash demonstration conducted for the guide at Crashlab by the NSW Centre for Road Safety highlighted the importance of selecting the safest car possible.

It also demonstrated the difference in outcomes when two used cars comparable in price and category but widely different in safety scores were crashed into each other.

RAA Senior Manager Mobility and Automotive Policy Mark Borlace said it was crucial buyers realised that used cars were seldom as safe to drive as new models.

”The great disparity in ratings for used vehicles emphasises the importance to car buyers of the Used Car Safety Ratings guide,” Mr Borlace said.

“We would recommend that people stay away from the 71 models in the poor or very poor category and look towards the 21 vehicles that earned the coveted Safe Pick rating.

“Some of the lower-priced, top rating Safe Pick models include the Honda Civic (2006-11), Subaru Impreza (2007-11), Holden Captiva (2006-13), Toyota Aurion (2006-12) and the Ford Falcon 2008-13.

“These 21 vehicles are the safest used cars for vehicle occupants, while also providing good protection for pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists in the event of a crash.

Mr Borlace said safety should not be compromised by price with many of the top rating used vehicles available for under $10,000.

“Even the Light Car category has a vehicle rated as excellent - the Ford Fiesta manufactured from 2009-2013,” Mr Borlace said.

The used car safety ratings are based on reports from more than seven million actual crashes from 1987-2013 reported to police in Australia and New Zealand.

They cover more than 90 percent of popular passenger and light commercial vehicles in the Australian market, manufactured between 1982 and 2013.

Safe Pick vehicles must be fitted with ESC, as well as perform well in protecting occupants and other road users.

The Vehicle Safety Research Group which commissioned the research is comprised of the major motoring clubs and state motoring authorities in Australia and New Zealand.

Visit or to find out more or download the Used Car Safety Ratings 2015 brochure.

Aerial view of a Mitsubishi Lancer colliding head-on with a Holden Cruze

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