Car Safety Rating Websites and What They Can Teach You

Looking for car safety rating information? There's a lot of it out there on the web – but don't let that bog you down. By checking out just a handful of sites, you can quickly find out whether the car you like is safe enough for your family.

You've probably heard of the 5-Star Safety Rating System. A brainchild of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), this system rates the ability of cars to protect the safety of their passengers during crashes and rollovers.

You can find 5-Star ratings and other car safety rating information at Safercar.gov. Search by class, year, make, and model to get information on the exact car you're considering buying.

I think you'll find that the database is pretty extensive, though the NHTSA doesn't always crash-test a new model until a few model years have gone by. (I guess it's like squishing a bug; you have to work yourself up to it.)

If you haven't decided which car to buy and are open to suggestions, you may be interested in more of a "Top Safety Picks" approach. If so, check out the data provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

They give a list of winners in each category. (Hey, they started making the Volkswagen Rabbit again! How did I miss that?) After you select a car, you can even compare its safety to the safety of other cars in its category.

There's another site that I think is a bit more user-friendly and offers more eye candy. Check out the car safety section at Automotive.com.

You can use the menus to find the car you're interested in, see safety feature information on one page, and then click through to find 5-Star crash test ratings.

Between these three sites, you should get an excellent overview of car safety ratings. We're sure you'll find a safe car that also meets your requirements for roominess, fuel efficiency, and price.

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