When shopping for a used car, it makes sense to first think about price, style, comfort, extra features, and horsepower. But what about safety? It’s important to know how safe your vehicle is and what crash test safety ratings mean for you.
Who Conducts Crash Tests?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conduct tests to determine a car’s structural integrity and the risk of injury to vehicle occupants in various types of accidents.
The NHTSA tests front, side, and rollover crashes using crash test dummies. Frontal impact tests are conducted at 35 mph, while side-impact tests are done at 38.5 mph. Rollover assessments can determine how safe passengers are from being ejected from the vehicle, as well as how well the roof protects them.
The IIHS conducts crash tests that complement those performed by the NHTSA. To get a better look at a car’s safety reading, it’s helpful to look at both of these ratings. The IIHS conducts tests that measure roof strength, rear crash protection, automatic braking, and low-speed bumper accidents.
What does it all mean?
NHTSA uses a star system, with a single star suggesting a poor crash test performance and five stars indicating an outstanding one and thus, a lower chance of injury. For example, the scores for a frontal impact test are below. Here, one star means there’s a 40 percent or greater risk, while a five-star rating leaves a less than 10 percent risk or injury.
5 Stars = 10 percent or less chance of injury
4 Stars = 11-20 percent chance of injury
3 Stars = 21-35 percent chance of injury
2 Stars = 36-45 percent chance of injury
1 Star = 46 percent or greater chance of injury.
IIHS ratings are a little different. IIHS assigns vehicles different ratings: poor, marginal, acceptable, and good. Depending on a car’s performance in five different tests, vehicles can qualify for its Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ ratings.
We can help
Our staff at The Auto Connection are here to help! When it comes to your safety, you can never be too careful. Look at the details from both tests for vehicles you are considering and feel free to ask us questions to help you make your decision.
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