What you need to know about Used Car Safety Ratings  


So you’ve scrolled through the car sites and been to the dealerships, and you think you’ve found the perfect used car — at a great price, to boot! While buying second hand can mean you’ll find a great deal, you may be looking at cars that are less safe than brand new ones. The average age of vehicles across Australia is 10.2 years, and there’s been a lot of safety advances in the last decade.  

Just because you’re buying second hand doesn’t mean you need to compromise on safety. To learn more click on this link Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSR) Buyer’s Guide (pdf).

How does the Used Car Safety Ratings Buyer’s Guide work?

Developed by Monash University and the RAC, the UCSR Buyer’s Guide examines over 300 second-hand models to uncover the best and worst options from a safety perspective.

Cars are given a star rating from 1-5, with 5 star cars awarded the ‘safer pick’ stamp. With categories ranging from light cars to large SUVs, this comprehensive guide can help people, especially younger drivers, to make more informed buying decisions within their budget.

How is this different from ANCAP?

While safety rating assessments like ANCAP are great for new cars, digging up info for that ‘99 Honda Civic you’ve been eyeing off may be a little more difficult. Unlike ANCAP, who test new cars in lab settings, UCSR data is based on real-life crash research from over seven million accidents across 13 years.

How Used Car Safety Ratings are calculated

In addition to looking at the data from real-world accidents, every car model is also assessed by its mass, structural design and safety features. The ratings also take into account levels of primary and secondary safety. Primary refers to how its design contributes to crash risk, while secondary looks at the ‘crashworthiness’ of the car itself. Factors like age and sex of the injured drivers are also taken into account, so that the independent rating is based only on the car’s performance not the driver’s conditions.

Used Car Safety Rating top performers

Drum roll please! Here are the winners for the 2019/2020 UCSR Buyer’s Guide

Safer picks:

  • 2009-2013 Honda Civic
  • 2004-13 Audi A3
  • 2013-2017 Mazda 3
  • 2012-2017 Nissan Pulsar Sedan
  • 2009-2016 Toyota Prius
  • 2008-2015 Audi A4
  • 2012-2017 Mazda 6
  • 2004-2011 Peugeot 407
  • 2007-2017 Jeep Compass

Not-so-safe picks:

  • 2002-2007 Toyota Corolla
  • 1993-2000 Subaru Impreza
  • 2004-2008 Kia Cerato
  • 1998-2006 Holden Astra

Surprising, hey! And yet, you see a lot of these not-so-safe picks on the road with P-plates attached to the window. Read the full pdf guide here.

Other safety features you should know about

Safety and car jargon can be extremely confusing. ABS, ESC, AEB – this jumble of acronyms may not mean much to you now, but learning about them could potentially reduce the severity of a crash. Some can even help prevent prangs from happening in the first place! While most new cars are built with these features already, they often aren’t available in many used cars, especially older ones.  

Safety features include:

  • Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), including Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection
  • Anti-lock brake system (ABS)
  • Blind spot warning
  • Brake assist
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
  • Front, side curtain and knee airbags
  • Lane departure warning and lane keep assist
  • Seatbelts with pretension devices designed to work with airbags
  • Traction control
  • Reversing sensors and/or cameras.

While cars with these features may not be in your budget, it’s important to check that your new baby has at least some things from the list. If not, it might be worth checking whether they can be installed. Consider taking any car you’re thinking about buying to get checked at your local mechanic, and make sure that the buyer has had a roadworthy check too. This checklist of safety features, alongside the UCSR, can be the ultimate guide to helping you find the best car for you within your budget.

What’s next?

Safety features (tick), price (tick), so what’s next? Getting your car insurance sorted. Whether you’re a first time driver or a seasoned pro, AAMI has a number of levels of cover to suit your needs.  

Explore AAMI Car Insurance  

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