How to Check a Car’s Safety Rating Online

Car Crash Test

Car safety ratings are critical when you are purchasing a new car.

However, a high safety rating does not mean that the car cannot be involved in an accident. Most accidents are caused by driving errors. Drink-driving contributes significantly to road accidents and also to fatigue. The NHTSA is the public body responsible for ensuring that the cars being manufactured can be driven safely for the public.

Other private bodies also check car safety, and you should be familiar with them.


This public institution, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, was created to reduce the number of traffic accidents on our roads due to the unworthiness of the car. The corporation awards a car rating between one and five. Once you have identified a car model, go to the website of the NHTSA and search for a car by year, model, or make. The website displays information about any investigations, complaints, and previous recalls of the car. You can also get more details about crash tests.

Click to search your car model on NHTSA

When you buy a car, you want to know that it is safe. In that regard, you want a car that has the NHTSA’s 5-star rating. The agency tests the safety of new cars before they are released to the public.

A new car is brought in and undergoes a variety of tests: front- and side-impact, brake assist, lane departure warning, etc. The car is measured on a scale of one to five. There are many car models on the market, and NHTSA does not have time to test them all. Therefore, they only test the most popular models.

The NHTSA website has a cool comparison feature that allows you to compare test scores between two car models. This is handy if you are torn between two car models. This feature allows you to select up to three car models to compare based on star ratings, callback information, and test information. Currently, you can compare car models from 2011 to the present on the NHTSA website. You can also compare cars manufactured between 1990 and 2010.

Car Recall Database

For all new cars, you will be informed by mail about recall actions. However, if you have just bought a new model, you don’t really want to be receiving this letter. The NHTSA uploads all recalled car models to its website. All you need to do is enter the car’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on their website and you will find all the information you need.


This private organization also carries out vehicle safety checks. IHHS ratings are rated as acceptable, good, marginal, and poor. Just like the IIHS, the IHHS gives ratings for the headlights, the roof structure, and the anchoring of the child seats. To obtain this information, go to the organization’s website and enter the car model, make and type. If you’re not sure, you can use their search engines to find a specific type of car.

Their rating results are displayed as either Top Safety Picks or Top Safety Picks+. Make sure that the car you buy always has a + sign. As there are many models to test, the website provides regular updates on new models that you have tested. If you cannot find your car model, don’t worry, just check for updates. It is recommended to do this two or three times a month.


The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also carries out tests on cars. The institution is a non-profit and consists of various insurance car associations. The tests for the IIHS include the tests conducted by the NHTSA as well as technologies for accident avoidance, front passenger overlap, and tests to prevent accidents. Instead of the NHTSA’s five-star rating, the body will recommend a car as a top safety choice.

International Assessment programs

These are international bodies that do their best to test new car models. One of the most popular evaluation bodies is the European New Car Assessment (Euro NCAP). Just like the NHTSA, cars are rated on a scale of one to five. Euro NCAP has conducted over 1800 car model tests since 2017. The website offers two car ratings, and the results often differ.

Latin Car assessment program (Latin NCAP)

This is an international assessment program that was started in 2010. It gives ratings between 0 and 5. One unique factor about the organization is that it assesses car models pre-2010.

Japan new car assessment program (JNCAP)

Japan produces new cars every year. JNCAP was established as an extension of Japan’s National Safety and First Aid program. The cars are tested using various measurements and are rated between 0 and 5. To check the rating, log on to their website and search for a car model by type, manufacturer, or limit your search to specific test results. The JNCAP test results also include pedestrian safety.

Australian New car assessment program (ANCAP)

This organization evaluates cars that have been released either in New Zealand or Australia. The cars are rated from 0 to 5. Just like on the other websites you can search by car model, manufacturer, or type.


Car safety evaluations are of crucial importance when buying a new car. Since you are spending a lot of money on the car, it is advisable to buy a car model that is rated five stars on a broad basis. The ratings are often displayed in the window. In this regard, we have government-appointed organizations such as NHTSA, which conduct extensive testing.

Other private organizations also carry out tests, and if you can find more than one result, all the better. The ratings are displayed on the organization’s website, and you can search by car model, type, or manufacturer. If you can’t find your model, you’ll need to check the website every month until your car model is tested.

Having a car with a five-star rating does not mean that the car will not have an accident. The expertise of the driver plays a big role.

Written by: Magnus Sellén

Founder, owner & main author of Mechanic Base. I have been repairing cars for more than 10 years, specialized in advanced diagnostics & troubleshooting. I have also been a drifting driver and mechanic for over 7 years.