What is ANCAP?

By Angela Monroe - March 9, 2021

What is ANCAP

Pretty much every driver knows that ANCAP is a safety rating for cars. The more stars, the better – and safer – the car is.

What does it all mean? What do they test for? How can so many cars get five stars when car models are so different?

We take a look at ANCAP ratings.

What is ANCAP?

The acronym stands for Australasian New Car Assessment Program. The independent vehicle safety authority tests and publishes safety ratings for many new vehicles entering the Australian and New Zealand car markets.

ANCAP was set up in 1993 and since then, have tested thousands of passenger cars, SUVs and light commercial vehicles.

The program aims to inform consumers about vehicle safety, highlight improvements for safety design and ultimately, keep our roads safe.

What does ANCAP check for?

A lot of stuff. In a nutshell, ANCAP checks for vehicle occupant and pedestrian safety in the event of a crash. It also checks how new features and technology can minimise the effects of a crash.

Basically, answering the question: can a vehicle prevent or reduce the effects of an accident and how well?

When a new car comes out with new safety technology, ANCAP tests it and publishes its findings.

The program checks that vehicles protect and limit injury from things like:

  • Whiplash
  • Side impacts
  • Rear impacts
  • Pedestrian collision
  • Rescue and exit ability

Furthers checks include a safety assist technology like:

Why don’t manufacturers test cars?

They do, but ANCAP acts as a non-bias, independent assessor. Furthermore, other New Car Assessment Programs (NCAPs) around the world test for conditions applicable to their own region.

Car model specifications are often tweaked to suit the market they’re in so ANCAP makes sure Australian new cars do what they claim as far as safety is concerned.

Did you know? The Toyota HiLux is sold all over the world, but the specifications differ. For example, the HiLux Mighty-X and HiLux Vigo Champ which were sold in Thailand are different from Australia’s HiLux.

How does ANCAP actually test things?

How does ANCAP actually test things

The Program puts vehicles through a series of tests designed to make sure safety features and designs do what they claim.

Crash tests:

Using its state-of-the-art facilities, ANCAP simulates common types of crashes including frontal impact, side impact, run-off-road, rear-end, and pedestrian strikes. They do this by physically subjecting a vehicle to crashes and measuring the results.

For example, a car travelling at high speed colliding with a test trolley also traveling at high speed. This simulates a head-on collision. 

Of course, people aren’t inside. Instead, ANCAP fits sensors to measure the impact.

Dummy occupants are also used to measure bodily harm and whiplash and other key areas.

Safety systems:

New cars come with a host of hi-tech features designed to help drivers avoid collisions. ANCAP simulates instances where these are designed to prevent and reduce accidents. 

For example, AEB (Auto-emergency braking). These systems use radar and cameras to detect imminent collisions and automatically apply brakes. ANCAP test facilities can steer other cars in front of test cars and measure both distance, time and effectiveness of AEB systems. They’ll be checked with and without light, in rain, in city and country environments.

What about driver monitoring systems?

Modern cars often come with driver alert systems that can check for driver fatigue and distractions.

ANCAP will also test these. This takes some pretty serious sensors as most dummies aren’t going to get fatigued or distracted.

Is there anything that ANCAP doesn’t test?

The program doesn’t include modified vehicles. This includes bull bars and other 4×4 equipment.

ANCAP doesn’t test for security so parking safely won’t affect your car’s ANCAP rating.

Is your car safe?

You can check your vehicle’s safety rating here. Older vehicles with wear and tear may not live up to their original test standards.

If your vehicle is falling behind in important safety features, it might be a good reason to upgrade to a newer vehicle. 

Angela Monroe
Angela Monroe is the Community Manager at The Positive Group, specialising in giving people the information that they need when they need it, and putting you on the path to a fair financial future. She has 8 years of experience in helping Australians find the right finance solutions, and regularly contributes articles to empower Australians with the knowledge they need to become financially healthy.


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