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Why you shouldn’t buy your kids a cheap first car

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Some damning evidence came out last week in conjunction with the fourth United Nations Global Road Safety Week. Australia’s Independent vehicle safety advocate, ANCAP, revealed the results of car to car crash test using a 1998 Toyota Corolla in a standard offset crash test with a newer 2015 Corolla.

The crash test no only shows the dramatic improvements made in vehicle safety over the last 20 years, but also highlights how older vehicles built before 2000 account for just 20 per cent of our registered car fleet yet are involved in 33 per cent of fatal crashes.


By contrast, newer vehicles, built post 2011, make up 31 per cent of our road fleet yet are involved in just 13 per cent of fatal crashes.

The evidence is good reason why you shouldn’t buy your kids a cheap car as their first set of wheels and should encourage them to save for a newer model. The 1998 Toyota Corolla, depending on model, sells in the range of $1,500 to $3,500 while the 2015 models generally sell between $17,000 and $20,000, again dependent on model grade.

The frontal offset crash in the attached video, replicates a head-on crash, and was staged at 64km/hour. The older car sustained substantial structural failure with the dummy readings recording an extremely high risk of serious head, chest and leg injury to the driver – ANCAP’s score for then 1998 Corolla was just 0.40 out of a possible 16 points, achieving zero stars. The interior footage on impact is catastrophic and indicative of the lack of structural integrity on this earlier model.

The 2015 model by comparison performed very well, gaining a five star level of protection and a score of 12.93 out of a possible 16. Even the windscreen remains intact on the later Corolla despite the impact.

For more information on the substantial gains made in vehicle safety of the last two decades, subscribe to David Berthon’s Motor Torque podcast here