Published: Sep 6, 2017

Your life is priceless but you don't need to break the bank to buy the safest used car

Choosing the safest second-hand car that won’t break the bank has never been so easy with the release of the latest Used Car Safety Ratings.

Roads, Maritime and Freight Minister Melinda Pavey said the choice of a used car for you or your children could make all the difference in a crash.

"These ratings provide important information about how well a vehicle protects a driver in a crash, but they also show that you don't have to compromise on safety," Mrs Pavey said.

"Many of the safest vehicles on the list can be purchased for under $10,000, which is particularly important for young drivers purchasing their first car or for parents looking for a safe, reasonably-priced car for their kids.

"These ratings show there are safe choices available in all price ranges."

Monash University Accident Research Centre, in partnership with the NSW Centre for Road safety, the NRMA and other members of the Vehicle Safety Research Group, analysed records from more than 7.5 million vehicles involved in road crashes and 1.7 million injured road users in New Zealand and Australia between 1987 and 2015 to produce the ratings. 389 vehicle models manufactured from 1982 to 2015 are rated, with 278 of those made between 1996 and 2014.

NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury said the second-hand car market is growing in popularity in Australia and we are seeing an increasing number of safe and affordable cars available to Australian consumers.

"This is why the Used Car Safety Ratings are so important. They provide invaluable information to buyers about buying the safest car in their price range. This is especially important for two of our most vulnerable groups - young drivers looking for their first car and older drivers looking to downsize."

A vehicle will not get a rating until it has been involved in at least 100 crashes and at least 20 driver injuries have been recorded. This means, a typical vehicle has been on the market for at least four years before it gets a rating.

Cars that have good crash avoidance technology and provide excellent protection to their own drivers while causing less injury to other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists in a crash receive the ultimate 'Safer Pick' rating.

The cars with the highest safety ratings incorporate important safety technologies such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC) that dramatically improves a vehicle’s road-holding capability and control for the driver.

Over the past five years there have been 109 people killed and 1,014 seriously injured in run-off-road crashes on country roads involving utilities and light trucks.

By the end of 2016, 57 per cent of passenger cars and 76 per cent of SUVs were equipped with ESC but only 34 per cent of Utes had the technology.

In fact a driver of the worst vehicle rated in this list is 10 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured than a driver in the safest vehicle listed which shows just how important choosing a safe second-hand car can be. Download the Used Car Safety Ratings Buyer’s Guide 2017-18 and find out more about safer vehicles at

A full list of car ratings