Guide to Used Car Safety Ratings
Get information on the real-world safety performance of used cars before you buy.
We’re reader-supported and may be paid when you visit links to partner sites. We don’t compare all products in the market, but we’re working on it!
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
More guides on Finder
2021 Kia Stinger 330S review
The Kia Stinger 330S costs $9,800 less than the top of the line GT model. But should you buy it?
Best Electric Cars Australia
Here are some of the best electric cars in Australia in 2021.
Toyota RAV4 car loans
Compare car loans and discover prices and specs of the Toyota RAV4.
2021 MG HS Plug-In Hybrid Review
After launching its first fully electric vehicle, MG has launched what it believes to be a good compromise: the MG HS Plug-In Hybrid.
2021 Toyota GR Yaris review
There's a bunch of hot hatches out there at the moment, has the Toyota GR Yaris just trumped them all?
BMW X7 car insurance
Thinking about buying a BMW X7? See average car insurance costs and find out about prestige car insurance
Bentley Continental car insurance
Learn about insuring a Bentley Continental with a prestige car insurance broker
Porsche 911 car insurance
Want to insure a Porsche 911? Here are things we think you should know.
Peugeot 508 GT review
It has dashing good looks and stands out from the crowd, but is the Peugeot 508 GT worth your money?
Mercedes-Benz G-Class luxury car insurance
Find out about how to insure the luxury Mercedes-AMG G 63 4x4 SUV.
Car Loan OffersImportant Information*
You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.99% 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.
You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.69% p.a.
Take advantage of a competitive rate, pre-approval and no early repayment fees when you finance a car under two years old.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% 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.
You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.99% p.a.
Purchase a new or used car up to 2 years old and benefit from a fixed rate and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
Ask an Expert