Motoring News

What is an ANCAP rating - and why does it matter?

When you’re looking at the specifications for new vehicles, you’ll often notice an ANCAP safety rating listed for each car. So what is an ANCAP rating, and why is it important?

What the ANCAP measures

ANCAP stands for Australasian New Car Assessment Program, an independent program that publishes safety ratings for new cars coming into the Australian and New Zealand markets. It rates cars on four criteria:

  • Adult occupant protection – how safe is the car for the driver and adult passengers?
  • Child occupant protection – how safe is it for children?
  • Vulnerable road user protection – how safe will a cyclist or pedestrian be if the car hits them?
  • Safety assist – how much is the car doing to keep people safe?

ANCAP RATING LOGO 2022 Black text 5 star5

At their accredited labs (mainly in Australia), ANCAP crash tests cars and looks at their safety features and technologies. Based on the results, each car gets a star rating to indicate its relative safety performance, and the rating is valid for six years.

You can find out the ANCAP rating of a car at the ANCAP website, or via your local dealership.

Child safety teddy intextO

An ANCAP rating helps you compare similar models

Because ANCAP provides a relative safety rating, it’s very useful for comparing between cars of similar size and mass. For example, finding the safest large SUV for your family, or finding the safest small city run-around. It’s not necessarily going to be as accurate when comparing a large SUV with a compact car, so use the ratings across categories, not across all models.

The safety standard is constantly improving


A car is given a rating of between zero (least safe) and five (most safe) stars. Five stars is the maximum, but the standard required to reach a five-star rating changes over time. ANCAP regularly update its test requirements to demand more from manufacturers, so a five-star car remains among the safest in its class and may be considerably safer than a five-star car from eight years ago.

Why don’t used cars have ANCAP ratings?

Older used cars get Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSRs) which are determined by analysing crash statistics. If you are looking at a car more than six years old, you will usually find its safety is measured with a UCSR rather than an ANCAP rating.

Why is it important to choose a car with a five-star safety rating?

There are so many factors to consider when buying a new car, so why should its safety rating be the among the most important? According to RightCar:

  • People are twice as safe in a five-star vehicle than a one-star vehicle
  • You’re 60% more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a two-star car when compared to a five-star car
  • You’re 90% more likely to be seriously injured in a one-star car compared to a five-star car

This makes it well worth paying extra for a safer car, to protect yourself and your passengers from serious injury.

Find out more with AA Motoring

Our website has more information about used car safety ratings here and about safer vehicles here – and don’t forget to get an AA Pre Purchase Inspection on any car you’re considering purchasing.

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