Once you understand the Monroney label, you are well on the way to purchasing an excellent new vehicle, one that will last for years and serve you well. Take care of your car and it will take care of you. Feel free to contact Valley Auto Loans for any help.
While there are no shortcuts to safety, there is an alternative to buying a safer car. The federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does safety testing in similar ways. However, they do not always reach same conclusions. A big SUV and a tiny compact may seem to have the same safety ratings. How are these ratings done? What do they mean?
Despite their best efforts, neither NHTSA nor IIHS testing can’t keep up with the large selection of new models. When buying a brand new model, a consumer may have to look at last year’s ratings. A consumer should read the fine print because every trim level within a model’s line-up does not get tested. Rear collision scenarios are not included because, as the NHTSA has stated, these are less deadly, and the agency’s limited funds must be used to perform the most vital testing.
Vehicles are rated by their class. A five-star compact car is probably not as safe as a five-star SUV. Likewise, a Top Safety Pick sedan is probably not as safe as a Top Safety Pick SUV. As the IIHS points out, if all safety systems are equal, a bigger, heavier vehicle is still safer than a smaller, lighter one. On the other hand, the NHTSA suggests that side ratings and rollover resistance are comparable even with weight and class differences.
Five Star System
The NHTSA uses a five-tier system to rate new cars. Frankly, you do not want a car that can’t muster a minimum of four stars. Five stars indicate that serious injury rates will top out at 10 percent. At four stars, the rate is 20 percent. After that, it jumps to 35 percent or higher. The feds put each car through many accident scenarios, crashing lots of new vehicles to prove the viability of the safety systems. Frontal crash and side crashes determine structural protections. Rollover resistance determines the electronic stability system’s viability. Crash worthiness is determined by the effectiveness of the seat belts, airbags, and vehicle structural enhancements.
Top Safety Pick
The IIHS ruins a lot of new vehicles, too, in its efforts to find viability. They rate cars as “Good, Acceptable/Marginal, or Poor.” A good rating only indicates a 46 percent survival rating, but “good” is enough for a Top Safety Pick. When comparing vehicles, you should look at its ratings in each category. The IIHS now offers a Top Safety Pick Plus designation which applies only to models with crash avoidance features. To get a Plus vehicle, the consumer has to pay extra, but the IIHS has studies showing that these systems do prevent accidents.
To determine IIHS ratings, new vehicles are put through side crashes, and two types of frontal crashes. They are rated for the roof and sliding door strength, which has been a common failure point with some vehicles. If a car or SUV rolls over, roof strength is critical to survival. Finally, they are rated for head restraints.
Although they do not move, passive head restraints can be vital for all rows of the vehicle. An active head restraint moves up and forward, catching the occupant’s head during a collision. Good head restraints prevent serious neck injuries such as whiplash.
Seat belts are still a vital safety system. Many vehicles offer height-adjustable seat belts which are more comfortable and safer, especially for shorter people and children. According to NHTSA studies, pre-tensioning, load-limiting systems help the seat belt respond effectively with minimal damage to the rider. One automaker has introduced inflatable seat belts for second-row passengers.
Modern cars generally have four front airbags and two overhead air curtains for a total of six. Some models now add a knee airbag for the driver. A few more add a knee airbag for the front seat passenger. A handful of automakers are even adding second-row side airbags for a total of ten. Price is not a consideration as you may find ten airbags in a low-to-medium priced car while finding only six or seven in a luxury vehicle. A truly modern airbag system is electronically controlled to permit several levels of inflation and to prevent unnecessary deployment.
As cars became lighter, saving significant money for their manufacturers and cutting price tags, the cabins became more vulnerable. Most manufacturers now offer many structural safeguards. Special features may include hood-buckling creases, multiple crumple zones, and a safety cage structure for channeling deadly force. Doors often hide high-strength steel beams to stop side crash incursions.
Advanced Electronic Systems
To get a Top Safety Pick Plus rating, the car must offer frontal collision systems. The latest advancements use cameras that analyze data in real-time. The camera system provides head-on collision warnings with lane-keeping. The advanced frontal collision system adds crash-mitigation braking. Sometimes this system also comes with Adaptive Cruise Control, which slows or speed as its camera detects the speed of traffic. The very latest is the Close Follow system which acts like cruise control in slower traffic situations. Early studies by the IIHS have determined that these systems are preventing accidents. You will not find these on every car, but if it is available on a model you prefer, it may well protect your property and save your life.
Blind Spot Elimination
Although not yet recognized by the IIHS formally, the agency has praised blind spot elimination efforts. A rear-facing radar system usually pairs blind spot detection while moving forward with rear cross traffic alert while in reverse. This usually shows up as an icon in the driver’s mirror. It may be active on both sides of the car. If offered, this system is usually an extra cost. A simple, yet useful device is the concave mirror that is now being added to the side mirrors by some automakers. When present, it does not add to the cost of the car.
Rear View Cameras
A rear view camera is a standard on many cars and an affordable option for most others. It potentially prevents damage to the car, reducing the chances of hitting other vehicles, obstacles, pets or people. A rear sensor system, sometimes paired with a front sensor, can reduce dangers even more. These systems are not included in the safety ratings, but both the IIHS and NHTSA recognize that these cameras reduce accidents.
After Crash Systems
Also not included in the ratings, after-crash systems are becoming more important. More and more manufacturers are offering a mobile service subscription. When in force, airbag deployment results in a signal to the mobile service, which then calls 911 for you. At least one manufacturer equips its cars with an after-crash system that turns on the hazard lights, unlocks the doors and rolls down the windows.