Inspecting the bodywork, engine, tyres, and suspension are all standard checks when buying a vehicle, but how often do you check its safety?
New research by the Monash University Accident Research Centre found newer model vehicles were better at protecting road users in crashes.
It comes as the NZTA announced from next year, vehicles with the faulty Takata Alpha airbags would automatically fail warrant of fitness (WoF) inspections.
More than 17,000 cars are at risk of being taken off the road.
More than eight million crashes and two million injured road users in Australia and New Zealand from 389 popular vehicle models helped determine the results.
The incidents took place over a 30-year timeframe between 1987 and 2017 which also found small and light cars were the most dangerous.
A large number of these light and small cars, including smaller SUVs, only managed one-star safety ratings, categorised as "very poor" by the AA.
Vehicles with the best driver protection were awarded "Safer Pick" vehicles by the AA, which also considered the safety of other road users.
Only a handful of models investigated achieved this status, none of which were light cars despite Honda City (2009-13) notching up five stars.
Meanwhile, the safer picks for small cars were the Audi A3 (2004-13), Mazda 3 (2013-17), Nissan Pulsar B17 (2012-17) and Toyota Prius 3 (2009-16).
Mazda 3's manufactured between 2013-2017 were among the safest. Photo / Ted Baghurst
Medium-sized models which also achieved the safer picks rating were the Audi A4 (2008-15), Mazda 6 (2012-17) and Peugeot 407 (2004-11).
The only large car with a safer pick rating was the Mercedes Benz E-Class W212 (2009-16), according to AA.
Safer pick vehicles often featured better structural designs, better airbag fittings, advanced seatbelt systems and energy-absorbing materials.
Crash avoidance and safety assist systems now available in these newer cars also reduced the risk of accident and injury, the AA said.
Elsewhere, a large number of vehicle models driven in Australia and New Zealand were found to be unsafe, many recording only one-star ratings.
The light cars in question included the Ford Fiesta (2004-08), Holden Barina (1995-00 and 2005-11), Hyundai Getz (2002-11), Mazda Demio (2002-07), Suzuki Swift (2005-17) and Kia Rio (2000 and 11).
Small cars included the Holden Astra (1996-98, 98-06 and 2004-09), Honda Civic (1996-00), Mitsubishi Lancer (2003-07) and Toyota Corolla (2002-07).
For medium cars, the BMW 3 Series (1992-98), Honda Accord (1994-98), Subaru Outback (1994-98), Toyota Celica (1994-99) and Toyota Camry (1998-02).
Large cars included the Ford Falcon AU (1998-02), Holden Commodore VT/VX (1997-02) and Nissan Maxima (1995-99).
Commercial vehicles were also looked into, with one-star rating utes being the Ford Falcon (1996-99), Holden Commodore VR/VS (1994-00) and Holden Rodeo (1996-02).
The Toyota Hiace van (1996-2004) received one-star, as did the Mitsubishi Delica (1995-2003) people-mover.
Medium-sized SUV the Toyota RAV4 (1994-2000) only managed one-star. Compact SUVs with one-star included the Daihatsu Terios (1997-05), Holden Cruze (2002-06) and Suzuki Jimny (1998-17).