How to Choose a Safe Car

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.


Next Step

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Recent Pre-purchase Car Inspection reviews

Excellent Rating

(5,189)

Rating Summary
4,847
184
37
38
83
4,847
184
37
38
83

Attila

19 years of experience
906 reviews
Attila
19 years of experience
Cadillac SRX V6-3.6L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Edison, New Jersey
Attila was great! Very knowledgeable and actually detected a fault during a pre-purchase inspection that would have cost me later.
Lexus ES350 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Fords, New Jersey
He is very good—offered all the significant details we needed from the inspection. Helped us figure out what needed to be fixed.

Shawn

12 years of experience
285 reviews
Shawn
12 years of experience
Chevrolet Impala V6-3.6L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Lansdale, Pennsylvania
Shawn was prompt, professional, and delivered the promised service as expected. This was a used vehicle pre-purchase inspection. Shawn also had to drive to multiple locations to perform the inspection, as the address listed that I provided him with was not accurate, but he still made it to the correct location within his time window and completed the inspection.
Toyota Sequoia - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Akron, Pennsylvania
Shawn was very prompt in communicating with me and was good at helping me decide whether to purchase a used car. He help me avoid a car with a repaired rusted frame that could be a danger to my family's safety since we were planning on using the car to tow a travel trailer!

Luis

18 years of experience
320 reviews
Luis
18 years of experience
Honda HR-V L4-1.8L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Warren, New Jersey
Luis was great. He showed up on time, acted professionally, and gave me confidence with a pre-purchase car inspection.
Acura RDX - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - South Hackensack, New Jersey
Luis did a thorough pre-purchase inspection for me, and found several major issues that made me pass on buying the car. Had I purchased the car, I almost certainly would have ended up paying thousands in repairs down the road. Thanks Luis!

Robert

20 years of experience
1089 reviews
Robert
20 years of experience
Hyundai Elantra L4-2.0L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Englewood, Colorado
He did a pre-purchase inspection for me. He was knowledgeable and fast, and knew what he was looking for. I really appreciate all the pictures and documentation he took of the state of the car before purchase. He noted potential issues with the car that I wouldn't have been able to notice. Would recommend.
GMC Savana 1500 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Golden, Colorado
I trust Robert. He gave me a list and we will take care of it the week of June 29. I will know then that my vehicle is ready for the winter and is safe to drive. I look forward to getting things ready for another winter of careful driving.

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