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Used car buyers urged to check the safety rating

Wednesday, 6th Sep 2017

Consumers looking to buy a used car have plenty of safe vehicles to choose from, with at least one excellent performer in each category in the 2017 Used Car Safety Ratings guide.

“This year’s guide examines 389 vehicles manufactured from 1982 to 2015 and identifies the models which offer better protection in a crash, not only for occupants, but for all road users,” said Mark Borlace, RAA Senior Manager Future Mobility.

“These independent ratings indicate that a driver of the worst-rated vehicle is more than 10 times as likely to be killed or seriously injured in the same crash as a driver in the best-rated vehicle.

“The ratings also show that the average risk of death or serious injury to the driver in a crash in a 2015 car is nearly 50 per cent less than in a 1996 car.”

At the top end of the ratings, 53 models scored excellent, with another 53 vehicles in the good category.

“Medium and Large SUVs, Medium cars and People Movers all had a high proportion of vehicles in the excellent or good categories and a large number of Safer Picks,” said Mr Borlace.

“This highlights the role that vehicle mass plays in the Used Car Safety Ratings, with vehicles heavier than the fleet average often exhibiting better occupant protection.

“It is also the case that larger, more expensive vehicles often have safety features fitted as standard.”

RAA 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 113 models in the poor or very poor category and look towards the 36 vehicles that earned the coveted Safer Pick rating.

“The 36 Safer Pick vehicles are the safest used cars for vehicle’s occupants, while also providing good protection for other road users in the event of a crash.”

A large number of Safer Pick vehicles are available second hand for under $15,000, and many for less than $10,000, which is particularly important for young drivers purchasing a first vehicle.

“Novice female drivers have high exposure to very poor performing small cars while the worst performing large cars are popular with novice male drivers,” said Mr Borlace.

“This is despite the fact that novice drivers are the most likely driver group to be involved in a crash and hence require their vehicle to provide the very best protection from death or serious injury in a crash.”

The used car safety ratings are based on reports from more than 7.5 million actual crashes from 1987-2015 reported to police in Australia and New Zealand.

They cover more than 95 per cent of popular passenger and light commercial vehicles in the Australian market, manufactured between 1982 and 2015.

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 to find out more or download the Used Car Safety Ratings 2017 brochure.

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