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

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78
4,481
175
36
37
78

Caz

17 years of experience
57 reviews
Caz
17 years of experience
Honda Insight - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Acworth, Georgia
Patient, thorough, professional and takes his time to explain things. This is the second time I have used Caz's services, and he consistently delivers. Look forward to working with him again.
Volvo XC90 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Alpharetta, Georgia
My husband and I are looking for a reliable used car for our teenage drivers. We had two that we were considering and wanted to have them inspected prior to purchasing. Caz did a thorough inspection of both vehicles and recommended we walk away from both. We really appreciated his transparency and knowledge. We will definitely use Caz again.

Chris

22 years of experience
2001 reviews
Chris
22 years of experience
Porsche Macan - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Irvine, California
Chris you as so knowledgeable and really out my mid at ease with the private seller purchase. Highly recommend to anyone shopping for a car :)
Lexus ES300h - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Temecula, California
Amazing guy.... called and gave me what felt to be his honest and straightforward opinion on my vehicle.... def will book him again in the future for work

Casey

19 years of experience
27 reviews
Casey
19 years of experience
Hyundai Santa Fe - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Katy, Texas
Casey is awesome. Helped me fully understand the health of the used vehicle I was buying for my mother in law. Great service and very knowledgeable for sure. Casey found only one issue we needed to deal with and was able to book the repair just a few days later.

Colby

14 years of experience
21 reviews
Colby
14 years of experience
Ford Ranger - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Longmont, Colorado
Colby called to notify me he was in route to the inspection--to ease my mind and to ask if there was anything in particular/extra I wanted him to check out. He was going to do a pre-purchase inspection of a 2002 Ford Ranger. He assured me that I hired the right guy since he'd worked for Ford for 13 years. An hour or so later, he called me while he was driving home to discuss his inspection. I could ask him everything I wanted as we dialogued. That was so helpful! And way more personable and real than just reading the report he emailed. The report was thorough and included a test drive. He had recommendations for some work to be immediately done; rotors & brake pads. Then, included the cost for him to do that work should I choose. The price was fair and not crazy expensive. I'm still deliberating on whether to have that done or to wait for my mechanic to do it once I have the truck. Thank you again Colby.

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