Prep for winter safety: How to test and maintain your tires

winter tire safety

Your car’s tires are one of the keys to safe driving, particularly when roads are slick, icy or snowy. Before any wintry weather descends, it’s a good idea to check your tires. We love this infographic from – it offers tips for checking your tires for proper inflation and signs of deterioration.

We also point you to a few prior posts on our blog that talk about different aspects of tire safety:

Source: Blog

Turn to IIHS 2016 Top Safety Picks when shopping for a new car

crash-testsIf you’re in the market for a new car, here’s an invaluable research tool: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Picks for 2016. There are a lot of new vehicle features and amenities that are fun to shop for and compare, but what’s more important than safety? Fortunately, IIHS has you covered. They issue annual awards that emphasize both crash avoidance and “crashworthiness,” or how a vehicle will fare when put through actual crash tests. For 2016, IIHS picked 61 cars for Top Safety Pick and 48 of those qualified for Top Safety+, the highest award. Here’s the criteria and a short video about the awards.

To qualify for 2016 Top Safety Pick, a vehicle must earn good ratings in five crashworthiness tests — small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints — as well as a basic rating for front crash prevention.

To qualify for 2016 Top Safety Pick+, a vehicle must earn good ratings in the five crashworthiness tests and an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.


The IIHS offers a variety of resources to help you in your research. Here are a few that we found particularly helpful.

Insurance losses by make and model

Driver death rates by make and model

Choosing the best vehicle for your teen

“A list of affordable used vehicles that meet important safety criteria for teen drivers. There are two tiers of recommended vehicles, best choices and good choices. Prices range from about $3,000 to nearly $20,000, so parents can buy the most safety for their money, whatever their budget.”

Crash avoidance features by make and model

Crash avoidance features are rapidly making their way into the vehicle fleet. Six of the most common new technologies are forward collision warning, autobrake, lane departure warning, lane departure prevention, adaptive headlights and blind spot detection. IIHS offers a tool to find out which models come with which features.

Has your car ever been recalled? New tool allows easy VIN lookup

Another week, another auto recall. If you feel like every car in the world was recalled last year, your fears aren’t far from reality. Here’s the 2014 recall tally, according to Auto News:

The final tally of 2014’s damages came in from federal regulators this month, showing that automakers sent out some 64 million recall notices in the United States.

That was more than double the previous calendar-year record of 30.8 million, set in 2004.

And which maker was the industry’s biggest offender?

Of those 64 million, nearly 27 million came from GM. That’s a 3,466 percent increase from GM’s total in 2013.

Put another way: In one year, GM recalled the equivalent of every single vehicle it sold from mid-September 2005 through the end of 2014.

How can anyone keep up? Owners may not always know whether or not their vehicle was ever recalled or whether it still needs to be repaired.

Good news – now there’s a way. Use the the NHTSA’s VIN lookup tool to see if your car was ever recalled in the last 15 years.

NHTSA’s new search tool lets you:

  • Enter a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to quickly learn if a specific vehicle has not been repaired as part of a safety recall in the last 15 years
  • Directly access the recalls databases of major vehicle and motorcycle manufacturers
  • Get the relevant recall information so you can contact the manufacturer or dealer about the repair if it was part of a safety recall

It’s pretty comprehensive but there are some things it may not cover – check the page to see what these are.

Many recalls are for minor defects and nuisances but some are safety related. That’s why some legislators are trying to pass laws barring car registration until recalls are completed. Right now, it’s still legal to sell a car that was recalled but not fixed.

“The lawmakers said 65 percent of recalled vehicles are repaired within 18 months. About 46 million cars with unfixed flaws were on the road at the end of 2014, and as many 5 million changing owners during the year, according to Carfax Inc., which tracks vehicle sales and accident histories.”

For more info on vehicle recalls, see and

Does your car make the grade? Check out IIHC 2014 Top Safety Picks

How good do you feel about your car’s safety? You can check out the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s lists of the 2014 Top Safety Picks to see if your car makes the grade. If you are in the market for a new car, it’s particularly handy information. Twenty-two vehicles earned the highest safety awards thanks to a high level of protection in crashes and the availability of front crash prevention technology to avoid many collisions in the first place. Another 17 makes earned awards by meeting the crashworthiness criteria alone.

In addition to the listings, the linked release (above) offers some good information on how these awards were determined – but to really get a sense of their testing and rigorous standards, check out this short video that shows some of the testing in action.

Crash test: 1959 Chevy Bel Air vs 2009 Chevy Malibu

Wayne Wiersma of Wiersma Insurance found a fascinating video clip that demonstrates just how far highway safety has come over the last 50 years. The test was sponsored by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) to commemorate the organization’s 50th anniversary. The test compares crashworthiness then and now: a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air and 2009 Chevrolet Malibu in 40 mph frontal offset crash test. The original crash video and photos can be found at the IIHS anniversary page, and we’ve found another clip with commentary from Consumer Reports.

See how your vehicle would fare
Use the Consumer Reports Crash Test Selector to see how your make and model would fare thanks to IIHS crash test videos.
Learn about vehicle ratings, auto safety research, laws and regulations and more at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute website. Both are independent, nonprofit, scientific, and educational organizations dedicated to reducing the losses — deaths, injuries, and property damage — from crashes on the nation’s highways.