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Guide to Used Car Safety Ratings

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

Updated

We’re committed to our readers and editorial independence. We don’t compare all products in the market and may receive compensation when we refer you to our partners, but this does not influence our opinions or reviews. Learn more about Finder .

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
Credit Concierge Car Loan
From 4.45% (fixed)
5.29%
$10,000
1 to 7 years
$350
$5
You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.45% p.a. with a comparison rate of 5.29% p.a.
Get access to over 20 providers to fund a new or used car.

CUA Secured Fixed Car Loan
6.79% (fixed)
7.16%
$5,000
1 to 7 years
$265 ($175 Establishment Fee + $90 Security Administration Fee)
$0
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.
Heritage Bank Car Loan
4.89% (fixed)
5.53%
$5,000
1 to 7 years
$200
$5
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.89% p.a.
Finance a new or used car up to 5 years old. Large maximum borrowing amount up to $100,000 and terms up to 7 years.
Plenti Car Loan
From 4.89% (fixed)
5.44%
$10,000
3 to 7 years
from $249 to $799
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.89% p.a.
Borrow up to $100,000 with a Plenti Car Loan and benefit from no early repayment or exit fees.
Driva Car Loan
From 4.34% (fixed)
5.5%
$2,000
1 to 7 years
$295 (Varies by lender, starting from $295)
$10
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.34% p.a.
Borrow up to $250,000 with loan terms from 1 to 7 years. Get access to a range of lenders.
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Compare up to 4 providers

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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 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.

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 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.

Logo for CUA Secured Fixed Car Loan
CUA Secured Fixed Car Loan

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.

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