One of the most important factors in the decision of which vehicle to purchase is used car safety ratings. If you plan to purchase a used car, it's very important that you make sure the vehicle is safe for you and anyone else who may ride in the car with you. Safety rating organizations like NHTSA are good places to search for information on the safety of these and other cars.
The NHTSA, or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is a government-run organization that monitors the safety of all cars sold within the United States. This organization is the leading administrator of safety tests throughout the country. They provide comprehensive coverage of virtually every vehicle that you might select. This wide range of expertise means that you can be sure that any information about your car relative to other types of cars will be well researched and accurate. The NHTSA is a great place to trust for used car safety ratings.
As an alternative to the NHTSA, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is an organization that operates independently of the government. Financially supported by auto insurance companies, the IIHS is the leading provider for crash test information for the United States and many other countries as well.
Does Auto History Affect Used Car Safety?
If you are concerned about used car safety, you should carefully check the history of a vehicle before deciding whether or not to buy. The history of a used car affects its safety in a number of ways, from the car safety technology built into the vehicle to the condition it is presently in. All of these factors should be considered before a used car is purchased. A safety report is a preliminary step, but you should also get a certified mechanic to inspect the vehicle.
Obviously, the safety of a used car is cast into doubt if it has previously been involved in a collision. Even meticulously repaired vehicles will never be quite the same after a crash. To ensure that a vehicle has not been in an undisclosed accident, get a history report from or AutoCheck or CARFAX prior to buying. You should also consider having a certified mechanic check out the vehicle to verify the history report.
Used cars are at their best when they have been well cared for and received all of the recommended services, checks, tune-ups and oil changes. It's perfectly reasonable to ask for a service history report prior to buying a pre-owned car. Cars that have been serviced frequently will hopefully have good brakes, well aligned wheels and tires, and be completely functional. They should essentially as good as new, as far as safety is concerned.
Over time, new safety innovations have been developed and integrated into vehicles. It stands to reason that a more modern car, with airbags, diagonal seatbelts and the like, will be much safer than an older vehicle which lacks these safety features. The make and model of the car also has a huge impact on how safe it is, perhaps even more so than the year. Before you decide on a purchase, make sure you check the crash test safety ratings offered by NHTSA and the IIHS.
Another reason to get a car history report from CARFAX or AutoCheck is the possibility of questionable activity related to the vehicle. It's always possible that someone has tinkered with the odometer in a used car or that some other important aspect is inconsistent. While this sort of thing is not too common, it's still a good idea to check and make sure that everything is as it should be. An altered odometer means that the car will show far fewer miles than it actually has, which may have affected the actual service records.
Are Used Car Safety Inspections Worthwhile?
Before you buy a used car, taking the vehicle to get an independent used car safety check can be helpful in making the decision to purchase. Dealerships sometimes can perform this service, and many of them cover the same items as part of their certified/pre-owned programs. However, safety inspections can vary across the board. Generally speaking, used car safety inspections should report on standard conditions that make the vehicle unsafe to operate. While a safety inspection can determine if a car is fit to drive, it won't necessarily reveal mechanical reliability issues.
What Is Checked?
Some states have a car safety inspection program as part of their vehicle registration process. The checklist varies from state to state, but some of the features checked are headlights, brake lights, reverse lights, horn, windshield wipers, safety belts and rear view mirrors.
Why Do It?
Even if your state does not have a requirement for used car safety inspections, having one performed can save you some costly repairs if anything turns up inoperable or in need of repair that isn't covered by a warranty. If you decide to have a safety inspection done, be sure to review exactly what the mechanic will be inspecting and verifying. If you purchase a used car with a warranty, cross check the coverage to ensure that any safety checklist repairs needed on the vehicle are covered. If it's not, you can sometimes work with the dealership to have such items repaired as a contingency to you purchasing the car.
As with any major purchase, taking the steps to inform yourself on what you're buying is prudent. It can save you time and money, and also the stress and headache of having to deal with problems down the road.