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Guide to Used Car Safety Ratings

Get information on the real-world safety performance of used cars before you buy.


Safety should be a major consideration when buying a car. While there are standardised ratings for new cars, it can be trickier to judge how older cars stack up. However, you can check the safety performance on a range of used cars with Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSR).

UCSRs can help you make an informed decision about the safety of a second-hand car. Regardless of the rating, it is important to look for cars that have the safety features you want. You should also consider having a qualified person check to ensure that the safety features are working properly.

What are used car safety ratings?

UCSRs are based on how cars performed in real-world incidents from 1990 until 2013 where someone was killed or seriously injured. Data was collected from over seven million road accidents in Australia and New Zealand. This information was used to generate a safety rating based on how well the vehicle protected both drivers.

As the ratings are based on real-world data, less popular cars or fairly recent models may not be rated. For these vehicles, you should check the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) rating.

How do USCRs compare to ANCAP safety ratings?

ANCAP ratings are for new vehicles and are produced under laboratory conditions. Each vehicle is put through a range of crash tests and a rating score is generated. As no other performance information is available, it is impossible to know how the car actually performs in a crash.

UCSRs are based on the actual safety performance of each car in real-world crashes. UCSRs are also useful for old cars where there is no ANCAP rating. However, the UCSR only considers the safety of the drivers, not vehicle passengers. The ANCAP ratings include front and rear passenger test data in their ratings.

How are used car safety ratings calculated?

UCSRs use an international standard to determine a car's safety rating. The rating is calculated based on the car’s mass, structural design and safety features. Other factors that affect crash severity and level of injury, such as the driver's age and gender as well as the crash location, are taken into account so that the independent rating is based only on the car’s performance.

How else can you judge the safety of a used car?

Modern cars have a range of safety features. Here are some of the common ones:

  • Front airbags. These help protect the driver and front passenger during a head-on collision.
  • Curtain airbags. Curtain airbags protect the head from striking the side door, window or external objects during a side collision.
  • Electronic stability control. This feature helps reduce skidding and loss of control due to oversteering by individually braking the wheels.
  • Traction control. Traction control slows wheel rotation by optimising road grip, either through braking or the engine.
  • Auto emergency braking. This feature can alert the driver to imminent impacts and apply the brakes independently if there is a critical situation.
  • Seatbelts. Seatbelts protect passengers and drivers from being thrown out of the vehicle during a collision.
  • Crumple zones. These zones help absorb impacts and reduce the force of collisions.

While price is always a consideration when buying a car, there are safe cars available at all price points. Research suggests that a driver of one of the worst-rated cars is six times more likely to die or be seriously injured than someone driving the highest-rated vehicle. Check both the ANCAP and the UCSR on different cars before you decide which vehicle is right for you.

Compare the used car loan options below

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comparison Rate (p.a.) Min Loan Amount Loan Term Application Fee Monthly Service Fee Monthly Repayment
RateSetter Car Loan
From 4.89% (fixed)
3 to 7 years
$399 (from $249 to $799)
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.89% p.a.
Borrow up to $100,000 with a RateSetter Car Loan and benefit from no early repayment or exit fees.
IMB Secured Personal Loan
6.45% (fixed)
1 to 5 years
$275.12 ($250 Application fee + $25.12 PPS registration fee)
You'll receive a fixed rate of 6.45% p.a.
Benefit from this competitive rate by securing the loan with a vehicle up to 6 years old. Use this flexible loan for any purpose.
Beyond Bank Low Rate Car Loan
4.89% (fixed)
1 to 7 years
You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.89% p.a.
Take advantage of a competitive rate, pre-approval and no early repayment fees when you finance a car under two years old.
CUA Secured Fixed Car Loan
6.79% (fixed)
1 to 7 years
$265 ($175 Establishment Fee + $90 Security Administration Fee)
You'll receive a fixed rate of 6.79% p.a.
A secured loan with a high maximum borrowing amount up to $100,000. Redraw facility and no monthly fees.
Greater Bank Secured Personal Loan
From 6.49% (fixed)
1 to 7 years
You’ll receive a comparison rate of 6.88% p.a. on funding from $5,000 - $100,000.
Loans are available on terms of up to 7 years and asset security is required. Get approved in as little as 24 hours.
Jump Payments Car Loans
From 4.47% (fixed)
1 to 7 years
$295 (Varies by lender, starting from $295)
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.47% p.a. and comparison rate from 5.28% p.a.
Borrow between $5,000 and $250,000. Get access to customised finance options.
Credit Concierge Car Loan
From 4.45% (fixed)
1 to 7 years
You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.45% p.a. with a comparison rate of 5% p.a.
Get access to over 20 providers to fund a new or used car.

NRMA Used Car Loan
From 6.99% (fixed)
1 to 7 years
You'll receive a fixed rate from 6.99% p.a.
Finance a used car with NRMA and benefit from a fixed rate term and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
People's Choice CU Discounted Personal Loan (Car Loan)
From 4.65% (fixed)
1 to 10 years
Borrow over $20,000 and secure with a new or used car less than 2 years (manufacture year 2018).
Pre-approval, no monthly fees and fixed rate for 5 years.

Compare up to 4 providers

Picture: Shutterstock

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Car Loan Offers

Important Information*
Logo for IMB New Car Loan
IMB New Car Loan

You'll receive a fixed rate of 5.45% p.a.
A low minimum borrowing amount of $2,000 that you can use to purchase a new car or one up to two years old.

Logo for Beyond Bank Low Rate Car Loan "Special Offer"
Beyond Bank Low Rate Car Loan "Special Offer"

You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.89% p.a.
Take advantage of a competitive rate, pre-approval and no early repayment fees when you finance a car under two years old.

Logo for RACV New Car Loans
RACV New Car Loans

You'll receive a fixed rate from 5.69% p.a.
A larger loan of $5,000 or more to help you buy a new or used car. 5-hour pre approval available and no ongoing fees.

Logo for Stratton Finance New Car Loan
Stratton Finance New Car Loan

You'll receive a fixed or variable rate depending on the lender you are approved with
Apply for up to $250,000 and use cash or trade in a vehicle to use as a deposit. Optional balloon payment available.

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