Help me find old car safety ratings?
May 28, 2007 7:51 PM   Subscribe

Seeking safety data for old used cars.

I'm looking for a cheap, reliable, used car, something that won't set me back more than 3-4k. The problem: I'm also looking for a car that is safe, medium to compact sized, and gets good mileage. This is turning out to be remarkably difficult. Most cars in the age range I'm looking for don't have side impact crash test ratings, and I can't find other data (like real-life accident data) that would help me figure out which cars are safest. I have been able to find this report from Australia, but it's of only limited usefulness. For one, of course, it only covers cars sold in Australia, but also I'm a bit confused because it doesn't seem to square with crash test results. The '98 Corolla, for example, gets the best possible rating from the Australian resource, but only an average rating on US crash tests. (Why?)

How can I figure out which mid-90s fuel-efficient small cars are the safest?
posted by phoenixy to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total)
I'd try to get a copy of a magazine like Consumer Reports from the years you're looking at from your library and see what they recommend. [*flashes MeFibrarian signal*]

Or I'd call Car Talk.
posted by mdonley at 8:08 PM on May 28, 2007

Perhaps you can find the car over at the Used Car research section at Choose the make, model, and drill down to the safety section.
posted by jaimev at 8:20 PM on May 28, 2007

Before buying used cars in the past I have used a few things that worked pretty well. First I checked Consumer Reports and Edmunds to figure out what car would be the smartest choice. And then before I paid for any particular car I had its history checked. I can't remember but I think I used CarFax for that.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:22 PM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

NHTSA's goes back to 1990.
posted by pmurray63 at 9:00 PM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

The '98 Corolla, for example, gets the best possible rating from the Australian resource, but only an average rating on US crash tests. (Why?)

It's because the Australian report uses data from actual accidents, while the US crash tests are probably more stringent than they need to be and test things that aren't actually a factor in most accidents. That is, it would probably be possible to get a higher US crash test score and actually be somewhat less crashworthy in the real world than another car that scored lower.
posted by kindall at 11:34 PM on May 28, 2007

IIHS crash test data goes back a long way, too. When you do a search by vehicle type/size, current year models will show, but there's a link to earlier models near the top of the search result page. When you do a search by make and model, the search results are broken down by year or range of years.
posted by daisyace at 5:37 PM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

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