Car Safety Tests Before You Buy

It’s the big day. You’re finally off to get the car of your dreams! (Or at least a vehicle that’s reliable until you can afford that car of your dreams.) Whether you plan to buy a new or used car, you should do more than just test drive it to make sure you don’t drive off with a lemon. You need to find out everything you can about its safety features, including how it handles in an emergency situation and how it will protect occupants in the event of a crash.

Types of Crash Test Ratings

There are two types of crash test ratings: insurance-industry and government. Each rating comes with its own set of standards that measure the integrity of the car.

The insurance-industry crash test uses a deformed barrier model to simulate a car-to-car, driver’s-side-to-driver’s-side-collision, one of the most common types of fatal crashes. Conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the test scores vehicles as good, acceptable, marginal or poor. If you are in the market for a vehicle, you can see your car’s insurance-industry crash test rating on the IIHS website.

Government crash test ratings are researched by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which tests full-frontal and side impact. Vehicles are given a score based on a five-star scale with higher stars indicating less of a likelihood of injury. A vehicle with a higher than average safety rating is recommended. You can look up the government crash test rating of a particular car on the NHTSA website.

Electronic Stability Control and ABS

In the event of a crash, certain safety features will engage to help keep you safe. Typically the seat belts lock, airbags are deployed and the ESC (electronic stability control) is engaged. The ESC is a system of steering and braking features designed to prevent the vehicle from sliding or skidding in the event of sudden turns. This feature is particularly important to have in vehicles prone to rolling over—like SUVs and other vehicles with a higher center of gravity.

ABS or antilock brake systems are standard in most vehicles. This system prevents the wheels from locking up during hard stops, which could otherwise cause a vehicle to skid.

Restraints and Airbags

When considering a vehicle for purchase, especially if it’s used, make sure these two features are working properly.

All vehicles are required by law to include air bags and safety belts, both of which offer considerable protection during a crash. Newer vehicles are likely to have a more sophisticated arrangement of air bags, not the front-facing ones you may be familiar with.

Head restraints (the head rest behind each seat) help protect passengers against whiplash. Be sure the restraints are height-adjustable in order to provide the right amount of support to each person in the event of an accident.

Car Safety Inspections Before You Buy

Before purchasing a new or used vehicle, take the time to check the vehicle’s basic safety features. Doing so could save you lots of hassle and money required for later repairs, and ensure you get a car that is more likely to keep you and your passengers safe in the event of a crash. If you’re unsure if a vehicle you want to purchase has all the required safety components, bring it in to Colony One for a pre-purchase vehicle inspection.