You may think your car is safe, but do you really know for sure? Safety ratings not only give (or take away) peace of mind, but they help determine how much you pay for car insurance. Companies look at ratings as a baseline, matching it to your driving profile to pin down just how much liability you and your machine really are. With this is in mind, you can better educate yourself when shopping for new coverage.
How to find vehicle safety ratings for your car
Step 1: Visit the NHTSA or IIHS website. While there are many “safety ratings” out there, arguably the most reputable and thorough results will come from one of either two organizations: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
NHTSA is the federal agency in charge of motorway safety and vehicle compliance while IIHS is an independent non-profit that can supply safety information for older cars (NHTSA only tracks as far back as 2011 model years).
You’ll get detailed information from either agency, with NHTSA using a star system and IIHS using color coding.
For example, a 2012 Subaru Outback has a four-out-of-five star safety rating from NHTSA and a green “good” rating from IIHS, as well as their “Top Safety Pick” designation.
You can also visit NHTSA’s dedicated car website, safecar.gov. There, you can find more consolidated information.
Step 2: Go to the manufacturer’s website. Automakers tend to pay just as much attention, if not more, to safety ratings than you do.
A good rating can help improve their marketing message after all. With this in mind, you can likely learn more about your car’s rating, and all of its safety features, by simply going through their website.
Check their online newsroom where they store announcements for all their models - this is where you’ll likely find detailed information from the two biggest vehicle safety organizations all on one site.