How to buy a five-star used car

Andrew Lockrey with partner Alice and eight-month-old Pipa.
Andrew Lockrey with partner Alice and eight-month-old Pipa.

Not all cars are created equal, and when it comes to buying a used car, the gap between best and worst equipped can be fatal. A driver in the worst-rated vehicle in this year’s Used Car Safety Ratings is 10 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured than a driver in a vehicle in the safest category.

The just-released 2017 Used Car Safety Ratings help motorists buy the safest second-hand car for their budget, and the good news is that there is at least one five-star-rated vehicle in every category in this year’s ratings.

They are based on analysis of real crashes, with an alliance made up of governments, motoring clubs including RACV, and safety groups including TAC and VicRoads publishing the ratings.

Records from more than 7.5 million vehicles involved in police-reported road crashes in Australia and New Zealand between 1987 and 2015 are analysed by Monash University’s Accident Research Centre, and given a one-star to five-star safety rating. The best-performing cars are given a ‘Safe Pick’ rating.

Most ‘Safe Pick’ cars were manufactured from 2001 onwards, showing the benefits of newer vehicles in terms of the safety equipment available.

“With most new cars of the past decade fitted with advanced safety features, we are now finally seeing more vehicles in the used car segment with crash avoidance systems,” says RACV manager vehicle engineering, Michael Case.

“It is great to see a few ‘Safe Pick’ vehicles are available second-hand for under $10,000. This is a great outcome for young drivers, who are often on a budget and in many cases tend to drive cars with fewer safety features – despite the fact that younger drivers are much more likely to be involved in a crash,” Mr Case says.

“Picking the safest vehicle possible should be every driver’s first consideration, and our Used Car Safety Ratings gives buyers the information they need to make this decision.”

New dad Andrew Lockrey bought his 2011 Mazda 6 second hand last year, and was relieved to see it rates five stars in the 2017 ratings.

“I knew Mazdas had a good reputation when it comes to reliability, but it was great to see that it rates so well for safety, especially now that it’s transporting my eight-month-old Pipa.”

The data analysis underpinning the Used Car Safety Ratings is rigorous, and a vehicle will not receive a rating until it has been involved in at least 100 crashes and at least 20 driver injuries.

Written by RACV
September 22, 2017

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