Buying guide

What are vehicle safety ratings?

These ratings tell you how well the vehicle protects passengers and other motorists in the event of an accident.

A safety rating between 0 and 5 is given to all vehicles entering the markets of Australia and New Zealand – 0 being pretty unsafe, and 5 the most reliable rating for keeping you and others safe. These ratings tell you how well the vehicle protects passengers and other motorists in the event of an accident. It also gives you an idea of how the vehicle may prevent a crash in the first place.

On Trade Me, listed vehicles are given a safety rating from one of the following:

  • Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP)
  • European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP)
  • Used Car Safety Rating - (UCSR) provided by RightCar

How is the safety of vehicles tested?

ANCAP conducts physical crash tests in a lab environment with test dummies. This helps to identify risks and highlight features that keep you and others safe in a crash.

A bunch of things are taken into account when crash testing a vehicle, including certain safety features, body design, and weight – the idea is to get a rating which informs the buyer of how well all road users will be impacted by a crash (not just those in the vehicle).

Used Car Safety Ratings reviews crash data and trends, so you might notice newer vehicles or those with low sales aren’t rated as there isn’t enough info yet.

What should I look for when buying a vehicle?

Make sure you check its safety rating. Newer vehicles generally come with heaps of fantastic safety features, such as avoidance technologies (which warn the driver of an imminent collision and brakes if no action is taken), emergency braking, and electronic stability control. Safety assist technologies are highly recommended, and vehicles without certain safety features (like electronic stability control) can’t achieve a 5 star ANCAP safety rating.

Some safety features to look for:

  • Front, side, curtain and knee airbags
  • Seat belts intended to work with airbags
  • Strong structural build
  • Crumple zones
  • Lane departure warning
  • Electronic stability control
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

Buying a safe car doesn't have to break the bank – choose a vehicle that suits your lifestyle and budget, but we definitely recommend looking for one with the highest safety rating. Our used car reviews outline safety ratings and more. So, once you have a vehicle type in mind check out its reviews and more details.