This Used Car Buyer's Guide Could Literally Save Your Life

The difference between a five star car and a one star car could be life or death.

If you're in the market for a used car, NRMA has released its annual used care buyer's guide -- and safety is key.

Records from more than 8.3 million cars involved in car crashes and two million injured road users in Australia and New Zealand were analysed by the  by Monash University Accident Research Centre.

Photo: Getty

Nearly 400 makes and models are covered in the guide, with each given a rating out of five for safety.

Vehicles that earn five stars provide "excellent" protection for the driver, cause less serious injuries to other road users and include crash avoidance technology, the NRMA said.

READ MORE: Some Of The Most Expensive Child Seats Found To Be The Least Safe

READ MORE: One-In-Three Pedestrians 'Playing Chicken' With Traffic

Cars that only received a one-star rating mean drivers are five times more likely to die in a crash than those in a five-star rated car.

"The safety benefits of getting into a five-star car are extensive, it can literally save your life and that’s why these ratings are so important,” NRMA spokesperson Peter Khoury said.

“Aussies love holding on to their cars so it’s vital we provide them with as much information as possible to keep them safe.”

A one-star rated Suzuki Jimny crashes into a five-star rated Volkswagen Tiguain in a test crash. Photo: NRMA

However, the price and age of a car is not an accurate measure of how safe a vehicle is, said Bernard Carlon, Executive Director for the Centre of Road Safety.

"We know that if you pick a five-star vehicle, you can actually get it cheaper than the one-star vehicle," he said.

"So we want you to have a look... check out the ratings of all of the used vehicles that are available to purchase and make a safe pick."

According to Carsales, various models with five-star ratings can be found for around $6,000, which is cheaper than more expensive cars without the same safety features.

In the small car category, five car models achieved a five-star rating.

The Audi A3 (2003-2013), Mazda 3 (2013-2017), Nissan Pulsar B17 Sedan (2012-2017) and Toyota Prius 3 (2009-2016) and the Volkswagen Golf VII (13-17) were given the tick of approval by the NRMA.

Just one light car make earned a five-star rating: the Honda City model from between 2009 to 2013.

In the medium and large car categories, 14 cars earned top safety marks, including the Ford Mondeo (2007-2015), Mazda 6 (2012-2017), Holden Commodore VF (2013-2017) and Vovlo V70/XC70  (2000-2007).

Photo: Getty

A total of 274 people have been killed on Australian roads this year, which NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said was simply too high.

"We want people, if they are purchasing a vehicle, that they are going to ensure they are looking at the safety ratings," Toole said.

"We want people to understand there are safer vehicles out there that can be purchased as a used vehicle."

The full list of cars can be found here.