How To Check Car Safety Ratings

How To Check Car Safety Ratings

Where To Go for Rating Information


Every year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducts crash tests on new vehicles and reports their performance on its Web site. For the 2012 model year, for example, NHTSA said it would be testing 74 vehicles, including 42 passenger cars, 22 sport-utility vehicles, two vans and eight pickups. The agency says that crash tests will provide information on about 81 percent of 2012 model-year passenger vehicles sold in the United States, while rollover tests will provide information on 92 percent of the 2012 fleet.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a private nonprofit organization funded by automobile insurance companies and insurance associations, conducts its own testing program and issues its own ratings. NHTSA and IIHS conduct different tests, and neither organization tests all cars on the market. But they do test the volume sellers. IIHS also made it a point in 2011 to test such innovative cars as the all-electric Nissan Leaf and the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt.

Here are NHTSA's Five-Star safety ratings. Note that you can't compare 1990-2010 vehicles with those from 2011 forward. Starting with 2011 models, NHTSA introduced tougher tests and new ratings in its Five-Star system. The agency says they provide more information about vehicle safety and crash-avoidance technologies.

The IIHS ratings page includes the testing information for individual cars. You can see which vehicles earned IIHS's "Top Safety Pick" designation.

To find a dealership that knows how to treat shoppers right, please visit's Dealer Ratings and Reviews.



  • jswisher jswisher Posts:

    I'm addressing the issue of children's safety, in the blind zone, behind vehicles. The beeping of a truck, when it is backing up, is a common alert signal. Could a beeping sound be added to the safety features of a car? This familiar sound is known to children. Another option could be more sensors on the bumper, to alert the driver that there is an obstacle at the back of the vehicle The sensors could be directed to a long range, alerting any size obstacle, either a ball , dog, or a child.

Leave a Comment

New Car Buying Guides

See which cars and trucks our editors recommend




Get Pre-Approved for a Loan

Credit Problems?
We can help you get Financing!

Have a question? We're here to help!
Chat online with us
Email us at
*Available daily 8AM-5PM Pacific
Call us at 855-782-4711
Text us at ED411