How to Choose a Safe Car

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When in the market to buy a new or used car, the vast array of brands and models from which to choose can make the process confusing. Of course, there may be a style or some particular features that you want in a vehicle, but there are practical issues to consider as well.

One of the most important things to consider when choosing a car is its safety. This is because even the best drivers sometimes have accidents, and you want a vehicle that is likely to protect you and any passengers in the event of a collision.

Part 1 of 1: Choosing a safe car

IIHS ratings
Image: IIHS

Step 1: Research recent crash test scores. Crash test ratings indicate how well various vehicles held up in controlled collisions with crash test dummies and provide a good idea of how well particular models would hold up in real-life accidents with actual passengers.

You can browse safety test ratings at either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. The tests from IIHS are generally more comprehensive, but both agencies are reputable sources for safety information.

safer car ratings page
Image: Safercar

Look for good scores on all of the collision tests for car models that interest you, especially when it comes to frontal collision scores, which applies to the largest percentage of accidents.

Step 2: Ensure there are airbags in addition to seat belts. While seat belts go a long way in protecting those inside the car from harm during an accident, airbags also prevent a lot of fatalities and serious injuries.

crash test dummies

For maximum safety benefit, look not only for front airbags but also side airbags in both the front and back seats. After frontal collisions, side collisions are the most common type of accident. Side collisions are also more likely than any other type to result in a fatality.

ESC features
Image: IIHS

Step 3: Look for the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) feature. ESC is basically a multi-directional version of the Antilock Braking System (ABS), and it significantly reduces incidents of skidding on curvy roads.

ESC applies braking forces to individual tires, which gives the driver greater maneuverability and is estimated to reduce by half the risk of having a single vehicle crash resulting in a fatality. This feature seems even more important in light of reports indicating that half of the deaths resulting from car wrecks each year are due to single vehicle crashes.

mechanic performing a pre-purchase inspection

Step 4: Have the car thoroughly inspected before you buy. While you may choose a vehicle that has high safety ratings and the safety features you desire, it doesn’t mean the individual car you are considering for purchase is in proper working order. Always have a qualified mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic, conduct a pre-purchase inspection before completing a sale.

Taking the time to find a safe car for your next purchase is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your family from harm. Although it requires a little time and effort to do the research, safety ratings are public and easily accessible online. With the addition of a pre-purchase inspection before you commit, you can gain a lot of peace of mind each time you get behind the wheel of your new car.


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Recent Pre-purchase Car Inspection reviews

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YourMechanic Pre-purchase Car Inspection Service

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4.9/5

Number of Reviews

4,413

Rating Summary
4,106
168
35
34
70
4,106
168
35
34
70

David

12 years of experience
289 reviews
David
12 years of experience
Honda CR-V - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Marietta, Georgia
Prompt and knowledgeable. David arrived early to do our pre-purchase car inspection and completed it in a timely fashion. He communicated his findings, recommendations by phone and text message, which was nice. I appreciated the information and details he provided.
Mercedes-Benz E400 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Kennesaw, Georgia
David called when he arrived and called shortly after he finished inspecting the vehicle. Unfortunately, due to the inefficiency of the sales representative at the dealership, David was not able to drive the vehicle as the final phase of the inspection.

Nicholas

10 years of experience
308 reviews
Nicholas
10 years of experience
Honda Odyssey - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Garner, North Carolina
Nicholas was prompt efficient, and very knowledgeable. He performed a thorough evaluation of 2 cars at a dealership that appeared very similar. He explained his reports to me and gave me great guidance and information to make my decision. The money I spent for the 2 inspections was money well spent. I am sure I made the right choice thanks to Nicholas.

Justin

7 years of experience
332 reviews
Justin
7 years of experience
Volkswagen Cabrio - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Delray Beach, Florida
Justin was very helpful. this was a pre-purchased inspection I live out of state and needed a car looked at in Florida. His inspection and input was a great help to me when deciding whether or not to buy this vehicle

Anthony

27 years of experience
33 reviews
Anthony
27 years of experience
Cadillac DTS - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Bohemia, New York
Anthony did an awesome job inspecting a vehicle in New York that I was interested in purchasing. He took the TIME to perform a Thorough job with the utmost integrity. He meticulously outlined everything he found with pictures and notes to me on his findings and finally a overall assessment of vehicle . Thank you Anthony !!!!!!

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