Myth busting

We all have our own ideas when it comes to buying a car — reasons why we favour one over another. But often these beliefs can be based more on opinion than fact.

Animation style graphic showing a brand new car.

New vs. old

Go for a newer model whenever possible. Only 10% of cars made in 2003 had a 5 star safety rating, in comparison to 87% of new cars sold from 2015 to 2016. If you do need to get an older model, make sure it is fitted with important safety features like electronic stability control and curtain side-airbags.

Animation style graphic showing a car painted in multiple colours.

Colour matters

When it comes to car colour, beauty is more than just skin-deep. You may think black looks cool, but white could save your life. Lighter colours improve the visibility of your car to other road users.

Animation style graphic showing a four-wheel drive car.

Four wheel drives

4WD vehicles may appear strong and indestructible. But because of their relatively higher centre of gravity, they handle differently and are more likely to be involved in rollover type crashes. If you are keen on a 4WD, weigh up all the safety features like electronic stability control and curtain side-airbags.

Getting to know your car

Check out the range of vehicle safety options on offer.

Animation style graphic showing hands breaking a small car apart.

Sound structural integrity means things won't collapse around you when it comes to the crunch.

Animation style graphic showing a man being cushioned by airbags.

For all-round protection, make sure your car has airbags in all the right places - front, side, curtain and knee.

Animation style graphic overhead view of a car skidding and leaving tyre marks.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) helps bring your car safely back on track.

Animation style graphic showing a car at the edge of a cliff.

Anti-Locking Braking Systems (ABS) help you stop without losing control of your vehicle.

Animation style graphic showing a magnifying glass over a crack in a windscreen.

No cracks! A quality, undamaged windscreen means no nasty surprises if you hit a bump in the road.

Animation style graphic showing a man wearing his seatbelts properly.

Make sure you're buckled up correctly with pretensioning seatbelts.

Animation style graphic showing a man with hearts in his eyes and his car.

Keep a cool head

Don’t get carried away just because it looks good. Take it for a test drive, and make sure you’re happy everything works properly.

  • Steering
  • Brakes
  • Suspension
  • Reversing
  • Ease of parking
  • Cooling and heating
  • Turning circle
  • Functioning lights

Download full safety checklist

Get it checked by an expert

Get an independent inspection report from a qualified mechanic or RACQ.

Think twice if:
  • You’re not satisfied with its condition
  • Agreed repairs haven't been carried out
  • The car has been modified from original without certification
Animation style graphic showing a mechanic looking under the bonnet at a hamster in it's wheel where the engine should be!
Animation style graphic showing an octopus sitting atop a car that's filled with sea water and draped in seaweed.

Check the vehicle history

Check it’s not stolen or written off. Make sure there’s no money owing on it. Search the Personal Property Securities Register to find out. It costs less than $5.

Visit the PPSR website Or phone 1300 007 777

Keep all your paperwork

It could get you out of trouble later on.

  • Any document you've signed
  • Any contract
  • Warranty documents
  • Safety certificate

Make sure you check that the safety certificate is valid and that all the vehicle details are correct too. Learn more about safety certificates

Animation style graphic showing a car shape made from folded paper statement.

Buy the safest car you can afford

Before you choose a new car, make sure that you check its safety ratings first. Most new and second hand cars have a UCSR and/or an ANCAP rating. They'll give you a good indication of how safe your vehicle actually is. So before you jump into your search, have a look at our safety ratings explained factsheet.

Keep yourself safe

You have greater buyer protection if you purchase from a licensed motor dealer rather than through a private sale. Weigh up the pros and cons.

Check licensed dealers

Maintain your safety

Regular servicing will ensure your car stays safe. Everybody should have at least a basic understanding of vehicle maintenance.

Vehicle maintenance

Even the safest car is only as safe as its driver.

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Where to next?

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