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New safety ratings to help used car buyers


The Automobile Association and the New Zealand Transport Agency have released new safety ratings to help consumers choose the safest used cars they can afford.

The Automobile Association and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) have released new safety ratings to help consumers choose the safest used cars they can afford.

The 2009 Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSR) rate 203 second-hand vehicle models for overall crash safety.  Of the vehicles, 26 were rated as excellent, 54 were rated as good, 48 rated as marginal, 36 rated as poor, and 39 rated as very poor.

The ratings are based on the latest information from the world’s largest database of real-life vehicle crashes and measure the relative safety performance of used cars, based on more than 3.6 million vehicle crashes on New Zealand and Australian roads from 1992 to 2007. The study also looked at the injuries suffered by more than 740,000 road users in these crashes. The crash and injury data has been analysed and vehicle safety ratings calculated by Monash University’s Accident Research Centre.

AA General Manager Technical Stella Stocks says “it is not surprising that small vehicles, utes and many vehicles made prior to 1995 rated poorly in the study.  However, the results highlight that it is possible to buy an affordable second-hand vehicle that does rate well.”

“There are many variables involved when purchasing a second-hand vehicle.  Buyers generally think about the purpose for which the vehicle will be used, the size, fuel efficiency, price and of course, colour and look.  Unfortunately it is safety that is often overlooked when making the decision.”

“Not everyone can afford to buy the latest car with the latest safety features, but there are also big differences in safety among used vehicles, and we encourage buyers of second-hand vehicles to use these ratings to buy the safest vehicle possible,” says Ms Stocks.

NZTA Vehicle Policy Manager Don Hutchinson says the ratings can be especially useful for young drivers and their parents when choosing a first vehicle, or for anyone choosing a vehicle on a tight budget.

“These ratings can help young drivers, parents helping their son or daughter purchase their first car and anyone looking to make their money go further in terms of vehicle safety.

“Used car buyers have a lot of choice, and these ratings show there are significant differences in crash performance between vehicles.  Choosing a safer car can literally mean the difference between life and death in a crash, and these ratings should be a guide for anyone in the market for a used vehicle,” says Mr Hutchinson.

For many of the vehicles in the study, a second rating is provided to show how seriously the vehicle is likely to harm other road users, such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. 

Ms Stocks says, “a large 4WD may perform well in a crash for the driver and any passengers, however a pedestrian, cyclist or motorcyclist is likely to be seriously injured or killed if hit by the vehicle.  Likewise, a light car may not provide much protection for its occupants, however it is less likely to harm another road user.”

A booklet containing the 2009 Used Car Safety Results is available free at AA Centres nationwide.  Booklets can also be ordered from any New Zealand Transport Agency office or by phoning 0800 699 000.  Full results are available at link) and link).

For more information please contact:

Stella Stocks
General Manager – Technical
New Zealand Automobile Association
T. +64 9 966 8908
M. +64 21 772 242


Andy Knackstedt
Media Manager
New Zealand Transport Agency
T. +64 4 894 6285
M. +64 21 276 3222