The Truth About Cars » crash test The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:47:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » crash test Is It Time To Demand Better Performance On Overlap Crash Tests? Fri, 12 Jul 2013 11:49:24 +0000 Click here to view the embedded video.

The 2013 Toyota RAV4, which underwent a major redesign earlier this year, was saddled with a “Poor” rating in the IIHS’ “small overlap” front crash test, the lowest designation possible.

The test, introduced last year, shows how vehicles handle a 40 mph impact with a 25 percent frontal overlap with a 5-foot tall barrier. A statement released by the IIHS outlines the fairly horrific sounding results of the crash test.

“The driver’s space was seriously compromised by intruding structure, and the dummy’s left foot was trapped by crushed and buckled sheet metal in the footwell. Injury measures on the dummy indicated a high risk of injury to the lower left leg. The dummy’s head barely contacted the frontal airbag before sliding off the left side as the steering column moved more than 7 inches to the right, resulting in little airbag cushioning for the chest. Additionally, the safety belt allowed excessive forward movement of the dummy’s head and torso, contributing to the head hitting the instrument panel.”

The RAV4 is hardly alone is performing poorly in this test. The Buick Encore, Ford Escape, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Patriot and Kia Sportage all performed “poorly”. The BMW X1, Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Rogue, Jeep Wrangler and Volkswagen Tiguan received “Marginal” ratings. The only vehicle that did well as the 2013 Subaru Forester. And yet somehow, a number of these vehicles are rated as a “Top Safety Pick” despite apparently being able to injure you severely in a crash that is quite common.

The poor performance of these vehicles has a fair amount of relevance in the real world. A recent report in Road & Track looked at offset front crashes and found that they are often fatal, especially at speeds of 40 mph. Many vehicle safety systems are designed with a full-on front crash in mind, but not the sort of offset collision the IIHS is testing for here – which happens to be fairly prevalent in real life. The 25 percent overlap crash, if it occurred in real life, would be particularly dangerous according to  R&T. With that kind of impact, the frame rails play no part in helping the car to decelerate, and that means a much more violent impact for anyone inside the car.

Only a quarter of the mass ahead of the safety cell remains to absorb the impact, and that’s not enough. The impact then pushes right through the front wheel, driving the suspension backwards. Depending on the vehicle and its speed, this could collapse the steering column, buckle the A pillar (pushing it back toward the driver or front passenger), and if the accident is severe enough, begin to crimp the door frame, front floor section, and door rail.

Despite the general unhappiness surrounding the increasing size and mass of new vehicles, a lot of it has to do with safety and crash protection. This can only be seen as a positive: car accidents are violent, traumatic events that can cause horrific injuries or death for those involved. It seems as if improving the performance of vehicles on these overlap tests should be a priority in the next generation of safety improvements for vehicles, given the prevalence of these crashes and how dangerous they can be to those inside the car. How those changes would impact vehicle design and engineering is something I’d like to know more about, but unfortunately, I lack the engineering/design/regulatory background to make any kind of prediction.

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Suzuki Death Watch 15: Kizashi Bests Camry In A Bittersweet Final Victory Thu, 20 Dec 2012 13:00:27 +0000

Kizashi Beats Camry! No, it’s not a reprise of Dewey Beats Truman, but the Suzuki Kizashi landed a parting shot against mid-size kingpin the Toyota Camry, soundly beating it in the latest round of IIHS crash testing.

The Kizashi, along with the Honda Accord, were the only two cars to receive a “Good” rating in the 40 mph front offset crash test. The Toyota Camry, along with the Prius V receieved a “Poor” rating, with Automotive News reporting

In both of Toyota’s vehicles, the crash caused significant intrusion into the occupant compartment — in the case of the Camry, the front wheel was forced sharply backward toward the driver’s feet. The driver-side airbags also failed to fully prevent a blow to the test dummy’s head in both crashes.

Too little, too late for Suzuki. But it must be nice to know that it beat the Camry at least once.


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The Fix Is In As GM Makes Changes To Volt After NHTSA Investigation Thu, 05 Jan 2012 22:25:23 +0000

General Motors announced changes to the Chevrolet Volt’s design after a NHTSA investigation into why a Volt caught fire following crash testing.

The changes will go into effect once production restarts at the Hamtramck, Michigan facility, but customer cars already sold will follow a different protocol.

Starting in February, GM will initiate a “voluntary customer satisfaction program” to make the necessary changes to the Volt. According to GM’s Rob Peterson said that  formal recalsl must be initiated by NHTSA, and their lack of movement prompted GM to enact a voluntary one instead.

The fix involves changes to the Volt’s battery pack housing, as well as a coolant temperature sensor and a special bracket to prevent overfilling. The previous system allowed the battery housing to be punctured, which then resulted in coolant overflowing onto a circuit board causing an electrical short. The short was determined to be the cause of the fire.


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Are You Safer In A Geely Emgrand, A Fiat Panda, A Jeep Grand Cherokee Or A Jaguar XF? Wed, 23 Nov 2011 19:20:27 +0000

Ask a Westerner what he or she thinks of Chinese cars, and the answer will be predictable: unsafe. Thanks to China’s slower crash test speeds and low-cost manufacturing, Chinese cars have largely not met global safety standards, and Youtube videos have long cemented the impression that Chinese cars are fundamentally unsafe. But as with any growing industry, the Chinese are stepping their game up. Far from a global embarrassment, the latest Geely Emgrand even earned four stars in Euro-NCAP testing. That’s not enough to erase China’s reputation for unsafe cars, as five star performances are rapidly becoming the standard in Europe. But it is enough to match the achievements of  other modern European cars, most notably the updated Fiat Panda. Though the Panda is considerably smaller than the Emgrand, and therefore is at something of a safety disadvantage, the price difference between the two cars is likely to be negligible, making the comparison quite interesting. Meanwhile, there are other four-star (or should we call it “Chinese Quality”?) cars in NCAP’s latest round of testing, including the considerably more expensive Jaguar XF and Jeep Grand Cherokee. Check out the reports for the XF, Panda and Emgrand in the gallery below, or surf on over to Autobild for more details on where these cars came up short on safety…

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China To Improve Crash Test Standards… And Not A Moment Too Soon Wed, 19 Oct 2011 17:01:49 +0000

Chinese automakers are delaying exports to Europe and the US until after 2015, largely because they admit their products aren’t “ready for primetime.” And few issues demonstrate that fact as well as the scandalous crash test videos that have defined internet perceptions of Chinese cars for years now. But with even more recent Chinese export-intenders continuing to put up lousy safety results, Autobild reports that, starting in 2012, China will improve its crash test standards to near-European levels.

Called C-NCAP, the new standard is modeled on EUropean NCAP rules, and raises the bar significantly. For example, Chinese cars will now be crashed at 64 km/h instead of 56 km/h. Anti-whiplash and other active safety measures will also be tested, as will results for rear-seat passengers in addition to front-seat passengers. And in order to include these additional test results, the maximum points available are going up from 51 to 62.

But if China wants to rid itself of its horrible auto safety reputation, regulators can only do so much. The industry also has to develop a culture that outs a high variety on safety. After all, even under the outgoing, lax standards, only 43 Chinese-market models have achieved five star ratings. With standards going up, that number should stagnate or decline until the Chinese automakers get serious about safety. After all, perceptions are huge in the car game, and Chinese brands need to work extra hard to wipe clean a reputation slate that has been marred with shocking crash test results.

And in the end, confronting this challenge is just part of the emergence of the Chinese industry: as Bertel reported, R&D spending at the Chinese OEMs is a fraction of what Western firms spend. With low-cost Chinese labor going the way of the dodo, the Chinese auto industry has to start competing with the Western brands on every possible level. Spending more on safety research and development seems like the logical place to start…

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Piston Slap: For the Next Stage in Life Wed, 06 Jul 2011 20:10:37 +0000


Mackenzie writes:

Hello, I am a 16-year-old girl looking to buy her first car. I am looking at Jeep Cherokees (NOT Grand Cherokees). I am trying to find a decent manual transmission one, but I can’t seem to locate any within a reasonable distance from me (Eastern Virginia).

My dad says I should look for a 1999-2001 Cherokee, but the few that I have found that are stick shift usually have pretty high mileage or are out of my budget. As car experts, would you guys recommend an older (94-98ish) Cherokee or a newer one with higher mileage?

I keep hearing that American-made cars are not as hardy as foreign-made cars, and that over 180,000 miles for a Cherokee is a no-go. My parents have agreed to pay half of the car, but with what I am finding, it’s still going to be a lot of money to pay. At first I was looking at $3500 tops, but I’m thinking I will have to raise that. Any help or advice y’all have on this subject would be greatly appreciated.

Sajeev answers:

I know you want a Cherokee and they are pretty cool, but they are a terrible choice for a 16 year old. And not because Jeeps are junk and American cars aren’t has durable as foreign cars. As if. It’s the wrong move for things we haven’t discussed: gas cost, insurance rates and safety.

Let’s be real: teenagers will explore the limits of their driving skills. And I’d prefer you (or a friend who borrows your ride) keep the shiny side up. The Cherokee’s design dates back to the 1980s, so they aren’t especially great compared to modern car and trucks in a crash. And blaming it on old age alone is me being generous to the Cherokee. Perhaps its because of Federal regulations at the time, but trucks had little of the common sense safety engineering of cars from that era.

A boring little car is your best choice, you will have more money for other things, and will be better off in the future. If that sounds good to you, what car would you be interested in?

Find one of those in your price range. Make sure it has some service history or a host of new parts to ensure it hasn’t had a neglected, rough life. This is a better move for you, odds are you will have more money for other things in the future if you take my advice. And, believe it or not, that’s what you will want when you use that vehicle to move to the next stage of your life.

Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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More Bad News On The Back Seat Safety Front Wed, 22 Jun 2011 03:09:20 +0000

Earlier this year, the German safety nuts at DEKRA and AutoBild ran rear-end crash tests on a pair of five-star-rated (Euro-NCAP) vehicles, and found that back seat occupants were at risk of severe spinal, head and pelvic injuries. Now, the dour Deutschlanders are back at it, as the ADAC has run tests showing that rear-seat passengers are also at disproportionate risk in front impacts, a far more common cause of traffic fatalities. And again, no government crash test standard requires testing of the rear-seat effects of frontal impacts.

On one level, this isn’t wildly surprising: other than side-impact airbags, rear passengers are basically protected only by a simple shoulder belt. And though rear passengers are farther from the actual crumple zone, the ADAC says the simplicity of rear-belt systems mean rear passengers can often come off worse in a frontal crash, noting

While stress-absorbing belt force limiters are commonplace in the front, they are a rarity in rear seat belt tensioners. Also most cars rear seatbelts don’t offer active-pull-back…

Because of the combination of simple rear seatbelts and no airbags, the ADAC’s crash tests (40 MPH frontal) show that rear-seat passengers exhibit far more frontward movement, resulting in more chest injuries, as well as more backwards motion, causing dangerous head impacts and whiplash.

Another problem: rear-seat headrests are often too inflexible and are placed too far from the passenger’s head, exacerbating head injuries during snap-back and rear-impacts. In one rear-impact example shown in the video above, the dummy’s head hits the top of the head rest and actually bounces upwards, driving the forehead into the car’s roof. Luckily for the typical rear-seat passenger, the danger demonstrated in these tests is largely limited to adult passengers, while children are typically safest in the back seat.

Had front-seat passengers suffered similar stress forces, the car in question would have received extremely poor crash test ratings… but because NCAP doesn’t test rear-seat impacts, these results aren’t part of the comforting star-rating system.

The good news: the ADAC tests show more sophisticated belt force limiters can have a major impact on rear-seat safety, so there’s no need to start filling the backs of front seats with airbags. Between this relatively minor upgrade and improved rear headrest geometries, the ADAC implies that manufacturers can address these rear-seat dangers at a relatively low cost. But until rear-seat safety is measured model-by-model by either a government crash test standard or a non-governmental body like the IIHS, car buyers should be aware that those comforting, comprehensive-sounding safety star ratings are no guarantee of back seat safety.

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Germany’s ADAC Tests Crash Test. Crash Test Fails Tue, 26 Oct 2010 19:01:47 +0000

Since Sunday, a story made the news in Germany that a Ford Fiesta and a Peugeot 308 had been crashed by Germany’s auto club ADAC, with horrific results. Both cars come with a five star Euro NCAP rating. Hence, everybody wanted to know which of the cars failed badly. Now the auto club says: It’s not the cars that are bad. It’s the crash standards.

All crash tests pretty much simulate a collision with a stationary object. That’s just not realistic, says the club, and they have a point. Usually, a car collides with a movable object, such as another car. That’s what the ADAC test attempted to simulate. Two very safe cars crash into each other, at a speed of 56 km/h (35 mph) each. That’s the speed used for EU whole car certification. However, total speed of both cars is now 70 mph. Nothing is ever tested at that speed. The much stricter (and not mandatory) Euro NCAP tests at 64 km/h, (40mph). Both cars are optimized for current crash standards. But when they hit each other, they hit spots that are not in the standard. Crumple zones don’t crumple. The passenger cell loses its protective properties.

According to Germany’s Rheinische Post, the ADAC demands that “crash compatibility” should receive more attention. Not just when a heavy car hits a light car (light loses). Also when similar cars hit each other. If that would be taken into consideration, the ADAC projects that driving gets 7 percent less dangerous, which would translate into 150 people staying alive in Germany each year.

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IIHS Moves Crash Test Goalposts, Pisses Off Toyota Wed, 18 Nov 2009 21:02:57 +0000

The IIHS has released its “Top Safety Picks 2010,” and thanks in part to the addition of roof crush tests that exceed federal standards (4x vehicle weight for an “acceptable” score) , a spot of drama has ensued. Not a single Toyota, Lexus or Scion made the list, for example, causing Toyota’s Irv Miller to lay into the IIHS [via Jalopnik].

In 2009, Toyota won more IIHS Top Safety Pick (TSP) awards than any other manufacturer. Toyota continues to improve vehicle passive and active safety, including improvement of past winners of IIHS TSP. IIHS’ statement that Toyota was shut out for 2010 is extreme and misleading, considering there are 38 Toyota, Lexus and Scion models, and only three were tested for roof strength by IIHS: Camry, RAV4 and Yaris. This is the first year IIHS has included its own roof strength tests, which exceed federal standards, for TSP consideration. All Toyota vehicles meet or exceed Federal Safety Standards for frontal and side impact, roof crush resistance and rollover protection.

Well, Toyota, if you play the IIHS’s game (and based on Miller’s TSP-counting, you are) you can’t start whining about losing just because the goalposts were moved. Moving goalposts and exceeding federal requirements is what the IIHS does. The IIHS’s single aim is to continually move the safety benchmark ever upward, without taking fuel efficiency, packaging or any other inevitable design compromises into account. Live by the sword, die by the sword. If meeting federal standards is enough (and it is), just ignore the IIHS like former TSP winners and 2010 losers BMW, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Saab are. Or better yet, join the debate over whether or not increased roof crush standards actually make cars safer. As it’s played out, Miller’s response serves only to reduce the automaker’s likability factor and lend credence to rumors that Toyota fudges structural issues and hides the truth.

Here are your 2010 IIHS Top Safety Pick Winners:

Large cars
Buick LaCrosse
Ford Taurus
Lincoln MKS
Volvo S80

Midsize cars
Audi A3
Chevrolet Malibu built after October 2009
Chrysler Sebring 4-door with optional electronic stability control
Dodge Avenger with optional electronic stability control
Mercedes C class
Subaru Legacy
Subaru Outback
Volkswagen Jetta sedan
Volkswagen Passat sedan
Volvo C30

Small cars
Honda Civic 4-door models (except Si) with optional electronic stability control
Kia Soul
Nissan Cube
Subaru Impreza except WRX
Volkswagen Golf 4-door

Midsize SUVs
Dodge Journey
Subaru Tribeca
Volvo XC60
Volvo XC90

Small SUVs
Honda Element
Jeep Patriot with optional side torso airbags
Subaru Forester
Volkswagen Tiguan

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Who’s Afraid Of Scary At-The-Limits Handling? Tue, 10 Nov 2009 19:00:21 +0000

OK, your insurer might be. You’ll be fine though.

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