Close-up of passenger airbag.

If you have a question about whether or not your vehicle has a good safety rating, you can check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) databases. But what is considered when ranking vehicles?

With just the year, make and model of your vehicle on hand, you can look up your vehicle to see how its safety features rate.

Star Ratings and Recalls

The last thing you want to see is that your vehicle has been recalled for a faulty safety feature. However, it’s better to find that information on the NHTSA and IIHS sites than to unknowingly drive a car with potentially defective brakes, seatbelts, or even headlights. If you don’t happen to see your vehicle year, make and model on one of the databases, be sure to check the other. There may be instances where NHTSA hasn’t tested a particular vehicle, but the IIHS should have more thorough testing information on their site.

  • Find NHTSA ratings HERE.
  • Find IIHS ratings HERE.

You may be in need of car repairs or replacement parts if your vehicle ever finds itself on one of these lists.

It’s What’s on the Inside That Counts

No matter how good or bad a car looks on the outside, it’s often what’s on the inside that counts. What you can’t see can hurt you, so be sure you know what you’re buying the next time you pick a car.

Crash Test Ratings

In many cases, you don’t have to wonder how your vehicle will perform in a crash. The NHTSA performs actual crashes with many makes and models to get an understanding of how they perform in various collisions. Likewise, the IIHS conducts its own test, often with more rigorous standards to meet. It’s harder to get high approval ratings from the IIHS compared to the NHTSA.

Generally, safety ratings may depend on the following:

  • Driving assistance
  • Collision avoidance
  • Emergency braking
  • Child seat anchors
  • Headlights
  • Body strength
  • Rollover crash performance/resisting a rollover

Weight and Height

A heavier-weight car with a low center of gravity typically rates higher than a light vehicle or a car with a lift. When a bigger car has a collision with a smaller car, the bigger car usually fairs much better. When it comes to a vehicle’s height, one with a lower profile is less likely to roll in a collision.


With each passing year, automotive manufacturers develop more effective safety features and technology. As a result, newer cars are often safer. The materials and tech perform better to prevent and endure collisions. 

Safety Features

Specific features are becoming standard in more makes and models. Here’s what the Jerome car repair team at Master Muffler recommend you look for when buying a used or new vehicle:

  • Stability control
  • Backup cameras
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Lane departure warning
  • Blindspot warning
  • Rear cross-traffic alerts

Of course, you also want your vehicle to have working airbags, seatbelts, and good tires. If your car has previously been in an accident, you’ll need to check that the airbags have been replaced and that the body hasn’t sustained damage that compromises safety. 

Even with all these safety features, user error can still lead to unexpected, and avoidable injuries. So how can you help your vehicle function safely on the road?

How to Maximize Your Vehicle’s Safety

Ensure that all passengers in your vehicle are in the right kind of seat. As the driver, you should sit as far back from the steering wheel as you can while still reaching the pedals, steering wheel, and dashboard controls with ease. The farther you are from the airbags, the better. While they do prevent you from colliding with the dashboard and/or going through the windshield, airbags are deployed with great force and are known to break bones while preventing life-threatening injuries in a collision.

Along those lines, be sure all passengers younger than 13 are seated in the backseat. Airbags are not designed for small occupants, and putting a child in the front seat can endanger them. If you have questions about moving your child out of their five-point harness or booster seat, consult with your physician. They can help you determine whether or not your child meets the size and maturity requirements to make a seat change.

Help your engine, braking system, tires, and more stay in tip-top shape with regular maintenance. Using the proper engine oil to lubricate your engine, ensuring your tires aren’t bald, and keeping your headlights fog-free can increase your car’s performance and allow the safety features to work their best. If you experience problems with steering stability, your engine overheating, or strange noise emitting from under the hood, come see the Jerome car repair team for help. 

Categories: Automotive Info

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