The Road Ahead : August September 2007
FEATURES 6 AUG/SEP 07 Used not confused Buying second-hand can still be safe. Best picks Volkswagen Golf/Bora (99-04) Toyota Corolla (98-01) Holden TS Astra (98-05) Honda Accord (91-93) Mercedes-Benz C Class (95-00) Peugeot 405 (89-97) Subaru Liber ty (89-93) Toyota Cressida (89-93) Subaru Forester (97-02) Worst picks Mitsubishi Cordia (83-87) Ford Falcon (82-88) Mitsubishi Star wagon/L300 (83-86 and 87-93) Toyota Tarago (83-89) Toyota Hiace/Liteace (82-86, 87-89 and 90-95) STORY CHRIS BISHOP Car buyers can now compare the safety of hundreds of second-hand cars following the release of protection ratings based on real-world crashes. The 2007 Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSR) update, compiled by the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) and backed by RACQ, has crashwor thiness ratings for 279 models built from 1986 to 2005. It reveals significant differences in safety within and between classes, with vehicle mass and age major contributors. Researchers studied more than 2.8 million crashes in Australia and New Zealand from 1987 onwards to determine the protection levels of models for drivers (crashwor thiness) and other road users (aggressivity). Of 279 cars, just 35 vehicles attained the top ranking, while the lowest rating for driver protection was given to 48. All up, 86 rated better than average for crashwor thiness. UCSR reveals size does matter in crashes, with the best per forming vehicles generally the heavier ones. None of the smallest cars in the light categor y ranked above average and nearly two-thirds gained the lowest ranking possible. However, the heaviest vehicles were most likely to harm other road users in a crash. The aggressivity of large 4WDs was significantly worse than average, while light cars rated much better than normal on the same measure. Researchers were able to rank 240 vehicles for aggressivity based on mass, body stiffness and bonnet/bumper height. The average aggressivity recorded for large 4WDs was about 60 percent worse than large cars, even though average crashwor thiness was about 15 percent better. Age plays a telling role, with most of the worst per formed vehicles built before 1990. Later models are usually stronger, offer extra safety features and boast more padded interiors. Generally, advances in design can be tracked by improvements in crashwor thiness ratings across generations of popular cars like Volkswagen Golf, Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore. Late model European mid-sized vehicles fared well in the ratings, suggesting those impor ts offer safer designs and added safety features. RACQ technical ser vices manager Steve Spalding said used car buyers should heed the results of the study and buy accordingly. "For their own safety, used car buyers should aim for the best ranking car they can af ford," Mr Spalding said. "For example, you are 26 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured in the worst vehicle, than the best vehicle. "We'd recommend buyers seek a vehicle which scores better than average on both crashwor thiness and aggressivity (as seen below). "Poorly per forming cars should be avoided at all costs, as they provide little safety to anyone. "We'd also caution people about racing out to buy the largest vehicle they can due to problems with aggressivity. There are good and bad per formers in most classes, the exception being light cars, which are at a disadvantage due to their small size." For more information on used car safety ratings, contact RACQ's Technical Advisor y Ser vice on 3666 9148 or 1800 623 456 (countr y callers).
June July 2007
October November 2007