FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions.

Crash Testing (General)

Of all the vehicles tested by ANCAP, which is the safest?

ANCAP evaluates the likelihood of serious injury for drivers, front seat passengers, and pedestrians involved in the most common types of crashes as well as a vehicle's collision avoidance capabilities. The test results do not prove which is the safest car in all types and severities of crashes. Consumers should look for vehicles that have earned the maximum 5 star ANCAP safety rating as these vehicles offer a high level of protection and are equipped with effective restraint systems and life-saving safety features and technologies.

To view all 5 star rated cars, visit our safety ratings section.

What proportion of total serious injury and fatal crashes does ANCAP testing represent?

A Monash University report has shown that frontal crashes make up approximately 60% of total serious and fatal injury crashes. After frontal crashes, side impact crashes make up the next highest number of serious injury and fatal crashes. The ANCAP test program includes frontal offset crash testing and side impact testing. A number of other physical crash tests and safety feature assessments also form part of the overall ANCAP safety rating program. At an international level, New Car Assessment Programs (NCAPs) are under constant review to ensure that they best meet the needs of consumers. Other types of crash tests and safety feature assessments will be introduced in the future.

To view more information on the tests ANCAP conducts, visit our Crash Testing Explained section.

Why doesn't ANCAP test for rear end collisions?

Severe rear collisions are relatively rare and usually involve being struck by a much larger vehicle. Frontal crashes and severe side impacts account for most car occupant fatalities which is one reason why ANCAP concentrates on these crash types. The University of Adelaide published a report on rear end crashes, and based on the recommendations of that report, in 2011 ANCAP began conducting whiplash tests, which are based on the assessment of vehicle seats. Well-designed seats may reduce the risk of rebound injuries where the driver is thrown forward and strikes the steering wheel, after the initial impact from the rear.

Learn more about ANCAP's whiplash protection testing at Crash Testing Explained.

How does ANCAP testing compare to real world crashes?

Analysis undertaken by the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) has shown that there is a good correlation between ANCAP crash test results and the vehicle's actual real world performance as measured in the Used Car Safety Ratings. International studies have shown cars that perform better in crash tests provide better occupant protection than vehicles that perform poorly in crash tests. A US study found a driver is 74% less likely to die in cars rated 'Good' than cars rated 'Poor' in car-to-car head-on crash of two cars of similar mass. A Swedish study also found cars with 3 or 4 star safety ratings are approximately 30% safer than cars with 2 star safety ratings.

For more information, visit our section on Crash Testing Explained.

If the speed was increased in all your tests what would be the effects?

Speed of impact has a large effect on the risk of serious injury to occupants. Even a small increase in impact speed (e.g. 10 km/h) could turn an easily survival crash into one where occupants have a high risk of serious injury. ANCAP crash test speeds represent the higher end of real-world crash speeds. For example, the frontal offset crash test is conducted at 64km/h. From real-world (US) data, more than half of all fatalities to seat-belt-wearing drivers in frontal crashes occur at impact speeds under 55km/h. We need to address these fatalities, as well as considering higher impact speeds, and 64 km/h has been adopted internationally as a good balance.

For more information, visit our section on Crash Testing Explained.

Each ANCAP crash test involves just one vehicle under a single set of conditions. Is it true that there can be a large variation in the test results of the same vehicle model?

The test laboratories used by New Car Assessment Programs (NCAPs) are subject to strict quality control procedures. One purpose is to keep variations due to the test conditions to a minimum. If some manufacturers consider that there is large variability in the test results (and this has not been shown to be the case) then they have the option of allowing for such variability in the design of their vehicles.

Manufacturers are invited to witness ANCAP tests of their vehicles and comment on the results before they are published. If manufacturers have conducted NCAP type tests during product development, they will know whether the official ANCAP results are in line with their own results and can comment accordingly prior to the public release of ANCAP results.

The vehicles acquired for ANCAP testing are representative of the same new cars available to consumers (i.e. ANCAP purchases vehicles for its testing that would otherwise have been bought by members of the public). Variation in vehicle manufacture can also be revealed as part of the ANCAP test process. In these cases, where a serious safety issue is identified, ANCAP notifies the regulatory department for further investigation.

In what year did Australia adopt the European crash testing standards?

The ANCAP crash test program was established in 1992 with the first ANCAP crash test results published in 1993. Euro NCAP was established in 1997 and ANCAP began testing and assessing vehicles in accordance with the Euro NCAP protocols in 1999. This was when the star rating system was introduced. Prior to this, ANCAP did not use a star rating system, rather, colour-coded body regions indicating high, medium or low injury risk were used followed by the allocation of 'Good', 'Acceptable', 'Marginal' and 'Poor' scores.

Does ANCAP have any data on stopping distance at certain speeds?

ANCAP does not conduct braking tests and has no official information about stopping distances. This departmental report may be useful.

Are the cars that are tested by ANCAP the same as the cars that you can buy at dealerships?

Yes, the vehicles used in ANCAP crash tests are either bought directly from local dealerships or taken straight from the production line of manufacturers. They are cars that would have otherwise been bought by members of the public.

International Crash Testing

How does the ANCAP test program compare with overseas test programs?

There are now nine New Car Assessment Programs (NCAPs, or crash test programs) around the world and each conducts its own slightly different range of crash tests and assessments. The most similar test program to ANCAP is that of Euro NCAP. ANCAP harmonised test procedures with Euro NCAP in 1999 and participates in a crash test data exchange allowing a considerable number of European manufactured models to be tested in Europe and rated for the Australasian market. Eight of the nine test programs publish vehicle safety ratings using a star rating system (1 to 5 stars). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rates vehicles using a scaled rating system (Good, Acceptable, Marginal or Poor). The range of tests and test configurations differ across test programs as does the way in which the final rating is calculated. The specification of models available in different markets may also differ. For these reasons, results from overseas/differing markets should be used as a guide only.

ANCAP is a member of Global NCAP, an overarching body, which aims to encourage the worldwide availability of independent consumer information about the safety of motor vehicles.

Is the frontal offset test unique to ANCAP or is it used elsewhere in the world?

The frontal offset test, including the barrier structure, test protocol and assessment protocol, was developed by Euro NCAP. The test is internationally recognised and is used for both consumer test programs and for regulatory standards. Other consumer crash testing programs that use the 64km/h frontal offset crash test are Euro NCAP, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (USA), JNCAP (Japan), Latin NCAP (Latin America & the Caribbean), C-NCAP (China), KNCAP (Korea), and ASEAN NCAP (South East Asian Nations). An almost identical frontal offset test, conducted at the lower speed of 56 km/h, has been included in Australian Design Rule ADR 73/00. This is applicable to new model passenger cars first sold in Australia from 1 January 2000. All passenger cars sold in Australia from 1 January 2004 have to meet ADR 73/00.

The remainder of ANCAP tests are common to a number of test programs around the world.

For more information, visit our section on Crash Testing Explained.

Future Test Requirements

Will ANCAP be introducing new tests?

Yes. From 2018 ANCAP will align with Euro NCAP which will see the introduction of a number of new physical crash tests and performance assessments of safety assist technologies (SAT). The calculation method used to determine ANCAP safety ratings will also change.

To view the test requirements for future years, visit our section on Future Requirements.

Why is ANCAP aligning with Euro NCAP?

The tests and calculation methods used by ANCAP will align with Euro NCAP from 1 January 2018. Alignment with Euro NCAP will see a broader range of tests and assessments carried out on vehicles sold in Australia and New Zealand. This will provide consumers with a greater amount of information on the comparative level of safety provided by new vehicles, as well as encourage manufacturers to further improve vehicle structures and include additional safety assist technologies (SAT).

To view the test requirements for future years, visit our section on Future Requirements.

Safety Features

I was involved in a rear end collision but my airbags didn't go off. Why?

Airbags are designed to be supplementary restraint systems (SRS). They work in conjunction with seat belts to reduce the risk of injury to occupants. Airbags do not trigger in some low-severity crashes where the seat belt offers sufficient protection. Also they are not usually designed to deploy in rear crashes.

If a driver is short and sits close to the steering wheel, would it be safe to have an on/off switch installed for the driver airbag?

The airbags in Australian cars are much less aggressive in the manner in which they deploy than the early types of airbags that caused some early problems in the USA. In addition, manufacturers check for safe airbag deployment for a wide range of driver sizes when developing occupant restraint systems. The airbag is designed to assist the seat belt in a severe crash and greatly reduces the risk of serious head injury. Airbags should never be disabled.

For more information, visit our section on Understanding Safety Features.

Is the metal body thickness a factor considered in ANCAP crash testing, and does the thickness have any influence on the results of a crash?

Modern car designs have a very strong passenger compartment combined with structures that are designed to crush in a controlled manner. Exterior body panels have very little influence on these structures (see the research reports published by the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).

These days the structural components of cars, such as roof pillars, are very carefully designed and may use sandwiches of metal of different properties for optimum performance. It is important that any repairs to these components use the same materials so that the original structural performance is maintained.

For more information, visit our section on Understanding Safety Features.

Is it true that airbags only deploy based on the deceleration of a vehicle and that they may not activate in some low-severity collisions?

Airbags are designed to be supplementary restraint systems (SRS). They work in conjunction with seat belts to reduce the risk of injury to occupants. Airbags do not trigger in some low-severity crashes where the seat belt offers sufficient protection. Vehicle manufacturers go to considerable effort to determine the optimum conditions for deploying the airbags. Airbags do not deploy under heavy braking just prior to a crash but some modern models are now able to detect an imminent crash and prime the airbag firing mechanism to speed up deployment once the crash commences. This is also the case for seat belt pre-tensioners.

For more information, visit our section on Understanding Safety Features.

Do ANCAP safety ratings take into account active safety systems?

Historically, the ANCAP safety ratings have been primarily concerned with the ability of the vehicle to protect vehicle occupants and vulnerable road users (pedestrians) from injury in the event of a crash. In recent years, the scope of the ANCAP ratings process has extended to recognise active safety assist, or collision avoidance, technologies. In coming years, ANCAP will introduce a number of dynamic performance tests for safety technologies such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) systems, Lane Support Systems (LSS) and Speed Assistance Systems (SAS).

To view the test requirements for future years, visit our section on Future Requirements.

Safer Car Choices

If a large, heavy car and a small, light car both receive the same ANCAP safety rating, is the large car safer for the occupants than the small one?

ANCAP safety ratings are used to compare vehicles within the same vehicle category (i.e. small car vs. small car, SUV vs. SUV etc.). It is not appropriate to compare ANCAP safety ratings across vehicle categories, particularly if there is a large weight difference. As such, there is not an ANCAP crash test which compares the crash performance of larger cars against smaller cars.

While mass may play a part where two cars with widely differing masses are involved in a crash, there are still a number of large cars which have a poor level safety performance. Some small cars do remarkably well in crashes with larger vehicles as they have very strong passenger compartments and advanced occupant restraint systems and these features can help mitigate the risk of the mass disadvantage. A large vehicle is by no means a guarantee of safety. In fact, in single vehicle crashes, such as with a solid fixed object like a tree or utility pole, the extra mass may work against you. In Australia, 45% of fatal crashes are single vehicle crashes.

Is it better to have a small car with a 5 star ANCAP safety rating or a medium car with a 4 star ANCAP safety rating?

ANCAP safety ratings are used to compare vehicles within the same vehicle category (i.e. small car vs. small car, SUV vs. SUV etc.). It is not appropriate to compare ANCAP safety ratings across vehicle categories, particularly if there is a large weight difference. As such, there is not an ANCAP crash test which compares the crash performance of larger cars against smaller cars.

While mass may play a part where two cars with widely differing masses are involved in a crash, there are still a number of large cars which have a poor level safety performance. Some small cars do remarkably well in crashes with larger vehicles as they have very strong passenger compartments and advanced occupant restraint systems and these features can help mitigate the risk of the mass disadvantage. A large vehicle is by no means a guarantee of safety. In fact, in single vehicle crashes, such as with a solid fixed object like a tree or utility pole, the extra mass may work against you. In Australia, 45% of fatal crashes are single vehicle crashes.

Vehicles which have been awarded a 5 star ANCAP safety rating have performed to a high level across the range of physical crash tests and are equipped with a range of life-saving safety features and technologies which vehicles with lesser star ratings may not have. ANCAP recommends vehicles which have the maximum 5 star ANCAP safety rating.

To view all 5 star cars, search our Safety Ratings section.

Can a small or medium-sized car protect you in a side crash with a larger car like an SUV/4WD?

The main risk to the occupants of a small car struck in the side by a higher, heavier vehicle like an SUV / 4WD is severe head injury. It has been found in real-world crashes that head-protecting side airbags, such as inflatable curtains, do a remarkably good job in these circumstances (see for example, the research by the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). That is one reason why head-protecting technology (side curtain airbags) are a mandatory requirement for 4 and 5 star rated vehicles. Vehicles fitted with curtain airbags are eligible for a pole test and ANCAP insists vehicles achieve a good result in this test in order to achieve the maximum 5 star ANCAP safety rating.

Child Protection

Why doesn't ANCAP provide a child protection rating?

Current ANCAP testing requires two child dummies to be restrained in child restraints in the second row seats for the frontal offset and side impact crash tests. However, due to fundamental differences in the types of child restraints used in Australia, ANCAP does not currently publish a child occupant rating like the one published by Euro NCAP. Amongst other things, the child dummies do not give a realistic indication of injury risk for a child secured in a six-point harness that is built into a forward facing child seat with a top tether (as required under the Australian Standard). ANCAP is looking at developing a more appropriate rating system for Australia.

For optimum protection, selecting an appropriate child restraint for the child is probably more important than car safety features or performance in ANCAP tests. There is a separate program - the Child Restraint Evaluation Program (CREP) which assesses the performance of child restraints on sale in Australia.

Accessories & Modifications

Does the fitting of bullbars (manufacturer endorsed or otherwise) to a vehicle affect its ANCAP safety rating?

ANCAP does not test vehicles with bullbars fitted but research tests have shown that a bullbar can adversely affect performance in the ANCAP frontal offset test - increasing the risk of injury to occupants. In modern vehicles, the front crumple zone is usually an optimum design for this severity of crash and a bullbar can change the crumple characteristics away from this optimum.

The fitting of bullbars also increases the potential risk of injury to pedestrians. From 2012, the ANCAP Road Map sets out minimum requirements for pedestrian protection in order for a vehicle to receive an overall rating of 5 stars. Vehicles with bullbars are unlikely to meet pedestrian test standards and therefore are unlikely to achieve a 5 star safety rating.

Does ANCAP test / rate aftermarket products and modifications?

ANCAP crash tests new, un-modified vehicles available to Australian and New Zealand consumers. In general, ANCAP does not set requirements for, or assess, aftermarket products or vehicle modifications.

Vehicles are sometimes specially fitted for operation in remote or hazardous areas. The fitting of isolation switches, additional batteries, roof racks, flashing roof lights, fire extinguishers, two way radios, spare wheels, long-range fuel tanks, snorkels and reversing alarms does not affect the ANCAP rating, provided that safety-related equipment such as airbags and electronic stability control remain operative during normal road use.

ANCAP recommends that state registration authorities be contacted for further information about vehicle modifications.

Does the installation of an internal rollbar/rollcage affect a vehicles ANCAP safety rating?

ANCAP does not test vehicles with rollover protection systems (ROPS) fitted but research tests have shown that ROPS can increase the propensity for a vehicle to roll by raising the centre of gravity. ROPS can also prevent the deployment of airbags - greatly increasing the risk of serious head injuries - and may not eliminate roof crush in vehicle rollovers.

Internal ROPS may also prevent rearward displacement of the driver seat in a strike from the rear. Modern seats are designed to respond in a controlled manner to reduce the risk of whiplash injury. This can be adversely affected by an internal ROPS. There may also be a risk of head injury from contact with the ROPS during a crash. This applies to rear seat occupants as well as the driver and front passenger.

Safety Ratings

Can ANCAP safety ratings be compared across vehicle categories (e.g. SUV vs. hatchback)?

ANCAP results can be used to compare the protection offered to occupants and pedestrians across a range of the most common crash types for vehicles of similar size and weight (i.e. within the same vehicle category). Care must be taken when comparing results for different vehicles across different categories as only those vehicles of similar mass can be correctly compared. As a heavier vehicle will generally provide better protection in a collision with a smaller and lighter car, any result comparison should be restricted to cars of a similar category/mass. To assist with the comparison, ANCAP publishes the kerb weight of the cars tested.

To view the ANCAP safety ratings of over 600 vehicle models, search our Safety Ratings section.

What is the difference between ANCAP safety ratings and the Used Car Safety Ratings?

ANCAP is Australasia's leading independent vehicle safety advocate, providing comparative ratings on how different vehicle models protect occupants and pedestrians in the most common types of crashes. ANCAP undertakes a number of internationally recognised crash tests and publishes vehicle safety results using a 1 to 5 star rating system. The more stars, the better the vehicle performed in ANCAP tests.

ANCAP crash tests are performed on new vehicles entering the Australasian market and are selected based on a variety of factors including the popularity and volume of vehicles sold. ANCAP's test program also aims to highlight exceptionally good or poor performers, and to represent new manufacturers entering the market.

Focussing on second hand cars, the Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSR) program is funded by many of the same member organisations which make up ANCAP's membership, but is compiled by the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC).

The difference between the ANCAP (new) ratings and UCSRs (used) lies in the way in which the ratings are determined. ANCAP safety ratings are determined based on data obtained through the simulation of common crash scenarios undertaken in a controlled laboratory, whereas UCSRs are determined through the analysis of crash statistics (police reports etc.). ANCAP safety ratings demonstrate a vehicle's level of occupant and pedestrian protection whereas UCSRs provide a crash rating for the driver only (with a secondary indication of vehicles that provide a higher level of protection for other road users).

UCSRs are available for a select number of vehicles, generally models that are at least three years old. ANCAP safety ratings apply to new vehicles, and with ANCAP safety ratings having been published since 1993, a significant number of vehicles tested by ANCAP form part of Australia and New Zealand's used car market. Both ANCAP and UCSR provide ratings for a similar range of vehicle categories.

ANCAP recommends 5 star rated vehicles.

To what does the year reference in the ANCAP safety rating logo apply?

The year stamped within the ANCAP safety rating logo denotes the rating year requirements against which that vehicle was tested. As vehicle safety requirements increase each year, it is important consumers are aware of the year requirements against which a vehicle has been tested.

I can’t find an ANCAP safety rating for my car. Has it been crash tested?

The vehicles tested through the ANCAP safety rating program include new passenger, SUV and light commercial vehicles entering the Australian and New Zealand markets and are selected based on a variety of factors including the volume of vehicles sold. Unfortunately not all vehicles can be tested however if you would like to check if there is an ANCAP safety rating available for your car, contact us.

Why is the ANCAP safety rating information published for some cars slightly different to others?

From 1 January 2015, ANCAP will enter into a transition period (2015-2017) through which ANCAP assessment requirements will align more closely with ANCAP's European-based sister organisation, Euro NCAP, in order to provide consumers with the best technology and safest cars available.

During this transition period, ANCAP will continue to publish ANCAP safety ratings based on local tests and protocols as well as tests and protocols used by Euro NCAP. Prior to the transition, the safety ratings published by ANCAP based on Euro NCAP test data were determined following a process of re-assessment by ANCAP engineers. From 2015 however, this re-assessment will no longer occur with ANCAP safety ratings published as provided by Euro NCAP (where the Australasian vehicle is the same).

Euro NCAP currently undertakes a number of additional physical crash tests and performance assessments of safety assist technologies (SAT) and therefore the ANCAP safety ratings information published for vehicles assessed in Europe will incorporate additional safety information obtained through the conduct of these additional tests/assessments - differing slightly to that of cars tested locally by ANCAP.

From 1 January 2018, the ANCAP safety rating information published for all vehicles - whether assessed in Europe or Australia - will align.

For more information, see our Future Requirements section.

Will ANCAP safety ratings increase beyond 5 stars (i.e. 6 stars, 7 stars and so on), or will 5 stars remain the highest ANCAP safety rating?

No. Rather than increase the number of stars awarded to a vehicle, ANCAP will maintain its 1-5 star rating scale with 5 stars remaining the maximum safety rating possible. The requirements to achieve each of the existing star rating levels however will increase year on year. To encourage the early introduction of new vehicle safety features and advanced safety technologies - promoting continuous improvement in vehicle safety - ANCAP has been progressively raising the bar since 2011.

To achieve an ANCAP safety rating - of whichever star rating level - a vehicle must achieve minimum scores in each of the physical tests as well as meet minimum requirements for the inclusion of key safety features and SAT which may help prevent, or minimise the impact of, a crash. In the next few years, ANCAP will introduce further updates to the existing suite of physical tests as well as add new physical and performance tests to its test regime.

To view the star rating requirements for future years, see Future Requirements.

Are ANCAP safety ratings reviewed?

Once an ANCAP safety rating is awarded to a vehicle, it retains that rating in perpetuity as, at the time at which it was assessed, it achieved all of the necessary minimum requirements to enable the awarding of that rating. If improved safety features are added to a rated vehicle (as a result of mid-cycle production changes), ANCAP may undertake a re-assessment and publish a revised rating. In addition, if safety features are removed, ANCAP may re-assess the rating.

The "Rating Year", which defines the requirements against which a vehicle has been assessed, is noted within each of the technical reports published for each vehicle rated by ANCAP. The Rating Year is also shown within the star rating logo for each model (for vehicles rated by ANCAP from July 2014).

Does ANCAP re-test vehicles?

In general, ANCAP does not re-test vehicle models within the same model series unless changes that would affect the rating are introduced. In these cases, vehicles may either undergo new physical crash test(s) or ANCAP may use technical evidence to determine a revised rating.

Member Organisations.