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BellaOnline's Cars Editor

Car Safety, Defects and Recalls

I'm certainly not one to think that the government does anything well. Social Security, taxes, and health care are great examples of the government's failures.

However, when it comes to car safety information, while not perfect, they do a pretty good job in storing and reporting information. The government has always taken transportation safety seriously and their website Safercar.gov holds a wealth of information on recalls, safety problems, and defect investigations.

It also gives advice on child car seats and how to buy or install them properly, on the tires you need to replace, and even on that airbag thing that's supposedly tucked away inside the steering wheel.

The NHTSA or National Health Transportation and Safety Administration is the government group that established and tests automobiles for their 5-Star Ratings program each year.

You may have seen the testing on TV where they show a car, SUV, or truck with a test dummy being driven into a wall and crumpling. Based on the results of the various tests, they rate a vehicle on a scale of 1 to 5 stars where one is the worst and 5 is the best.

Some of the main categories tested are frontal crash, side crash, rollover, belt and head restraints, airbag, and driving safety. It's not just for new cars either. The database which is very easy to use, has information on vehicles going back as far as 1990. The further you go back in time though, the less information you'll find so there isn't much information on the 1990 Toyota Cressida. Toyota what?

One of the new tools they have that parents might like is the new Car Seta Finder. You type in your child's birth date, weight, and height and you'll get recommended car seats that fit your child best.

Another new tool links recall and safety information available to the car VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) which is unique to every car made - I like to call it the car's DNA. This tool makes it easy to find the information instead of having to find the car make, model, year, etc.

Most of the information is also available on mobile devices as well with the NHTSA app.

So there you have it. Something the government actually does pretty well. The website overall is a great repository of useful information and should be part of any car buyer's research.

Need help buying or leasing your next vehicle? Check out our car buying services at ProAutoBuying.com. We'll help you get the best deal possible.

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