Forget about performance, the greatest changes in the automotive industry over the past few decades have taken place in the name of safety.
New cars are safer than ever and that’s a good thing. But let’s say you don’t have the money to buy a new car or just aren’t interested in one. Older models still had to pass rigorous safety tests, so they’re just as safe. Right? The answer could depend on how much rust the car has.
Numerous automakers, like Volvo are working towards making road fatalities a thing of the past by coming out with all sorts of technology. But after watching the videos below, it looks like the age of a vehicle and the amount of rust it has plays a large role in its ability to maintain its crashworthiness over time.
Researchers at Villaagarnas Riksforbund, as Autoweek reports, a nonprofit Swedish organization, along with some assistance from insurance company Folksam decided to put their theory to the test with a couple of used vehicles.
Crash testing older cars
The cars included the Mazda 6 and Volkswagen Golf. The VW was from the 2004 to 2008 generation, while the Mazda 6 was in production from 2003 to 2008. So the cars aren’t exactly that old, but they both had a fair amount of rust.
To see how the cars held up in an accident, the researchers imitated a front and side impact, following EuroNCAP’s standards. We should point out that the researchers didn’t use EuroNCAP’s current standard, but the guidelines for when the cars were new. New cars must meet much stricter guidelines than before.
Both videos reveal that the old, rusted cars couldn’t match the crash safety levels they once did when they were new. The Mazda 6, which you can see immediately below, had a noticeable amount of change when compared to a new model.
“When the Mazda 6 was tested in the frontal test, the car was deformed so that the driver’s seat ended up leaning against the interior of the car and the crash test dummy hit its head in the B-pillar,” said the organization. Hitting your head on the B-pillar, in case you were wondering, is a bad thing.
When new, the Japanese model managed to earn a rating of a “weak four (26 points)” on EuroNCAP’s five point rating scale. The old was demoted to a “weak three (18 points).” That may not make a lot of sense, but the major take away is that the researchers believe that passengers are at a “20 percent higher risk of being killed in a real accident, because of the rust.”
The Golf did surprisingly well. It, compared to when it was new, lost just one point in regard to its crashworthiness. On EuroNCAP’s five-point rating scale, a new Golf of that period scored a “weak five (33 points),” while the old one managed to receive a grade of a “strong four (32 points).”
No two cars will rust similarly, so if you see a couple of rust spots on your car, don’t freak out. But if you’re one of those people that only buy used cars, like me, it’s better to take some time to find one that doesn’t have a lot of rust, because your life could be depending on it.