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Which car brand has the best stability?


NHTSA’s 5-Star Safety Ratings help consumers make smart decisions about safety
when purchasing a vehicle. You can also search ratings by manufacturer.

Check your car seat’s Ease of Use Ratings.

NHTSA’s Ease of Use Ratings let you compare how easy it is to use certain car seat features so you can make an informed decision about the right car seat.

Check your tires.

Uniform Tire Quality Grading Systems (UTQGS) ratings allow
consumers to compare tire features.

Buying a new car?

Purchase a vehicle with safety in mind. Use NHTSA’s Vehicle Comparison Tool to see 5-Star Safety Ratings and recall information at a glance.

Timeline of NHTSA’s
5-Star Safety Ratings program

Ratings standards and crash safety have advanced


The Highway Safety Act established NHTSA and outlined its mission to reduce deaths, injuries and economic losses resulting from motor vehicle crashes.


Began testing and rating vehicles for frontal impact protection using data from crash test dummies.


Began using the 5-Star Safety Ratings system to help consumers make informed safety choices when buying new vehicles.


Began testing and rating vehicles for side crash protection.


Began testing vehicles for resistance to rollover crashes, which are more dangerous than other types of crashes.


Rollover tests are updated to better simulate real-world rollover crashes.


Launched (now so consumers can search for 5-Star Safety Ratings and find other important highway safety information in one place.


Required that window labels on new vehicles include 5-Star Safety Ratings information.


Enhanced 5-Star Safety Ratings to include an Overall Vehicle Score and a listing of advanced recommended safety technologies.


Added rearview video systems to the list of recommended technologies to help prevent backover incidents. This feature will be standard in all vehicles by 2018.


Announced plans to update its 5-Star Safety Ratings program and encourage automakers to produce cars with better crash protection and new crash avoidance technologies to save more lives and reduce passenger and pedestrian injuries.


Added automatic emergency braking systems to the list of recommended technologies to help prevent or reduce the impact speed of rear-end crashes starting with model year 2018 vehicles. Automakers committed to making it standard in all vehicles by 2022.

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More stars mean safer cars.

The 5-Star Safety Ratings program evaluates how vehicles perform in crash tests. NHTSA conducts frontal, side and rollover tests because these types account for the majority of crashes on America’s roadways.

Frontal Crash Test Scenario:

You are heading south on a two-lane road, while another vehicle is driving north on that street.The driver in the other vehicle starts to fall asleep at the wheel and veers into your lane. Suddenly, you collide head-on with the northbound vehicle.

  • An average-size adult male in driver seat
  • A small-size adult female in front passenger seat
  • All dummies are secured with a seat belt

  • Represents crashes between two similar vehicles with same weight
  • A vehicle crashes into a fixed barrier at 35 mph

  • Evaluation of injury to the head, neck, chest, and femur (leg)
  • Frontal crash ratings must only be compared betwee n vehicles from the same weight class (+/– 250lbs)

Side Barrier Crash Test Scenario:

You pull up to a four-way intersection and make a complete stop, look to your left and right and begin to accelerate into the intersection. Another vehicle approaches the same intersection, but doesn’t yield at the stop sign and hits your vehicle on the driver’s side.

  • An average-size adult male in driver seat
  • A small-size adult female in rear passenger seat (driver’s side)
  • All dummies are secured with a seat belt

  • Represents an intersection type collision
  • A 3,015 lb moving barrier crashes at 38.5 mph into a standing vehicle

  • Evaluation of injury to the head, chest, abdomen, and pelvis
  • For side barrier ratings, it is possible to compare all vehicles with each other

Side Pole Crash Test Scenario:

On a rainy afternoon, you’re driving down a curved street in your neighborhood. All of a sudden, you lose control of the vehicle. You start sliding on the road sideways and crash into a telephone pole on the driver’s side.

  • A small-size adult female in driver seat
  • The dummy is secured with a seat belt

  • Vehicle, angled at 75 degrees, is pulled sideways at 20 mph into a 25cm diameter pole at the driver’s seating location

  • Evaluation of injury to the head, chest, lower spine, abdomen, pelvis
  • For side pole ratings, it is possible to compare all vehicles with each other

Rollover vehicle

Rollover Resistance Test Scenario:

You’re driving your SUV on a 55 mph highway and suddenly you come upon a sharp curve. You try to navigate the curve, but you’re traveling too fast and losing control of your vehicle, and your vehicle departs the road and rolls over.

Static Stability Factor

The rollover resistance rating is based on an at-rest laboratory measurement known as the Static Stability Factor (SSF) that determines how “top-heavy” a vehicle is, and the results of a driving maneuver that tests whether a vehicle is vulnerable to tipping up on the road in a severe maneuver.

Recommended Driver Assistance Technologies

Look for vehicles with these driver assistance technologies. These features have met NHTSA performance tests.

Other Safety Equipment

Other safety equipment provides protection and reliability on the road. When purchasing a vehicle, check for these features.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the 5-Star Safety Ratings Program?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) created the 5-Star Safety Ratings Program to provide consumers with information about the crash protection and rollover safety of new vehicles beyond what is required by Federal law. One star is the lowest rating; five stars is the highest. More stars equal safer cars.

Which cars are we testing?

Here is the list of model year 2023 vehicle models selected for crash testing under NHTSA’s 5-Star Safety Ratings Program.

Do other organizations crash rate vehicles?

Yes, other organizations test crash vehicles, but NHTSA is the only organization that rates rollover resistance, in addition to frontal and side crashworthiness.

Do the changes in the new Safety Ratings mean vehicles that previously received 4- or 5-star ratings may get lower ratings even if no changes have been made to the vehicle?

Yes, some vehicle star ratings that were rated higher under the older Safety Ratings system may be lower under the new 5-Star Safety Ratings system. However, it does not mean that your current 4- or 5-star vehicle is unsafe. Due to more vigorous testing, a vehicle that once received 5 stars under the old system, may receive a lower score under the new system, even if no changes have been made to the model.

Why doesn’t NHTSA do rear impact crash ratings?

NHTSA’s 5-Star Ratings Program has a limited budget and must concentrate its ratings on front and side-impact crashes that are responsible for the highest percentage of deaths and serious injuries.

How does NHTSA categorize vehicles?

NHTSA categorizes vehicles by class and “curb” weight. Curb weight is the weight of a vehicle with standard equipment including the maximum capacity of fuel, oil, coolant, and air conditioning. Passenger cars are further subdivided.

  • Passenger cars mini (PC/Mi) (1,500–1,999 lbs.)
  • Passenger cars light (PC/L) (2,000–2,499 lbs.)
  • Passenger cars compact (PC/C) (2,500–2,999 lbs.)
  • Passenger cars medium (PC/Me) (3,000–3,499 lbs.)
  • Passenger cars heavy (PC/H) (3,500 lbs. and over )
  • Sport utility vehicles (SUV)
  • Pickup trucks (PU) Vans (VAN)

Can I compare vehicles from different classes?

Side crash rating results can be compared across all classes because all vehicles are hit with the same force by the same moving barrier or pole.

Rollover ratings can also be compared across all classes. Frontal crash rating results can only be compared to other vehicles in the same class and whose weight is plus or minus 250 pounds of the vehicle being rated. This is because a frontal crash rating into a fixed barrier represents a crash between two vehicles of the same weight.

What does it mean if the symbol (�) appears on a vehicle’s ratings label?

This symbol alerts consumers to a safety concern the government has about the vehicle. That concern can include: structural failure or some type of unintended performance of a vehicle component such as a fuel leakage or a door opening. Please note that safety concerns are NOT part of the calculation for an Overall Vehicle Score. A vehicle can have a high star rating, but still have a safety concern. However, if a safety concern is identified, the symbol will appear in the correct crash category and Overall Vehicle Score area.

Does NHTSA update its 5-Star Safety Ratings Program?

Yes, NHTSA is constantly evaluating its New Car Assessment Program for updates. NHTSA prioritizes updates that have the greatest safety impact. NHTSA uses four prerequisites when considering updates to the program.

  1. Does the update address a significant safety need?
  2. Do vehicle designs exist for the update?
  3. Does the update have the potential to improve safety?
  4. Does an objective test procedure exist for the update?

Once the prerequisites for an update are met, NHTSA begins the updating process.

  1. Request for comments notice published in the Federal Register
    • Solicits comments on a detailed proposal
  2. Receipt of public comments
    • Public submits comments to NHTSA
  3. Comments resolution process
    • NHTSA considers comments
    • Conducts additional research, if needed
  4. Is a supplemental public notice/request for comments needed?
    • If yes, repeat process and begin with step 1
    • If no, move to step 5
  5. Final decision notice published in the Federal Register
    • NHTSA responds to public comments
    • Final decision detailed, including lead time for changes and implementation

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For more than 50 years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been working to keep people safe on the road. Learn more about what we do and how we enable everyone to live safer.

Vehicle Comparison

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Stability control systems explained

Electronic stability control systems (SC for the purposes of this article) detect loss in traction and react to regain grip using the braking and engine management systems. Situations where the systems will come into action include understeer, oversteer, and spinning wheels.

Most new vehicles are now fitted with some kind of stability control system. There are a host of acronyms for this technology which varies according to car manufacturer…

  • Electronic Traction control (ETC/ TCS)
  • Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)
  • Electronic Stability Programme (ESP)
  • Porsche Stability Management (PSM)
  • Etc

Don’t be fooled into thinking each of these systems are unique – they all function in very similar ways (and are usually all made by the same manufacturer).

How do stability control systems work?

Sensors In order for the car to detect loss of traction it needs some sensors. These come in various different forms and determine how the car is behaving, and what the driver is trying to do. Yaw sensors, gyros, wheel-speed detectors and accelerometers are the most common sensors found in SC systems. In addition, information ranging from steering and pedal position, engine speed and gear selection is used to determine driver inputs.

How is this information used?

When the SC system determines that loss of traction is occurring, it acts using the braking and engine management controls (and in some cars even the steering system) to put the car back on track. The system reacts according to a set of preset criteria depending on the nature of the loss of traction, which can include spinning wheels or slides.

Spinning wheels

Traction control is used to reduce drive loss through spinning wheels. This can occur when driving on slippery surfaces, or when accelerating hard (usually in first gear from a stand still). Traction control reacts by applying the brakes to the spinning wheel and this forces the drive to be diverted to the wheel(s) with the best grip. Traction control usually only operates below a certain speed.


There are two different types of slide – understeer and oversteer. SC systems react to these situations by applying the brakes to individual wheels, and reduce engine torque when appropriate to keep the car on line. During an understeer situation, torque is reduced and the resulting forwards weight transfer is usually enough to regain control, if this is not sufficient to bring the vehicle back in line, individual rear brakes will be applied. When oversteer is occurring, brake force is applied to one of the front wheels, which acts as pivot to bring the car back on line. In general, the brakes are only applied to the wheels which are likely to have the most grip.

how does the system apply the brakes?

Almost every vehicle now has ABS fitted as standard. This life-saving system allows you to continue to steer while braking by regulating the brake pressure and preventing wheel-lock. The system uses a hydraulic motor to generate brake pressure, and this same motor is used by the SC systems to apply braking force to individual wheels where possible, and valves in the ABS unit regulate the pressure.

Disadvantages of Stability Control systems

As discussed above, SC systems use both the brakes and engine management controls to reduce wheelspin or slides. Great on the road, but when you’re on a track the last thing you need is the car putting on the brakes! Most performance cars have an option to disable (or significantly reduce) the SC systems via a button on the dash. Experiment by turning off the control and see how the car behaves. If you have got into the bad habit of allowing the SC systems to sort you out round corners, you may find yourself spinning in the first bend, so be careful and build up speed gradually as your confidence improves.

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3 thoughts on “ Stability control systems explained ”

Augustin V Collin says:

Completely answered my questions regarding my main concern which is maintaining control of my vehicle in normal highway driving and dealing with the weather. Always keep my traction and stability controls on and drive within the speed limit taking weather conditions into consideration. Also, these systems will help with either understeer or oversteer to help me stay safe. Only question I have is whether these controls will help in case of a tire blowout. Thanks

admin says:

Good question! Stability control systems should provide some assistance in the event of a blowout – however the best bet is to ease off the gas, turn gently to the side of the road, and come to a gentle halt.

Sim S Wilson Jr says:

Thank you for posting this article! Now, I understand my car a little better and why it turns Traction Control off whenever I turn Sport Mode on.

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Electronic Stability Control

Select one or more vehicles among the following possibilities.


  • Make
  • Aiways
  • Aixam
  • Alfa Romeo
  • Audi
  • Bajaj
  • BMW
  • BYD
  • Chatenet
  • Chevrolet
  • Chrysler
  • Citroën
  • Club Car
  • Cupra
  • Dacia
  • Daewoo
  • Daihatsu
  • Dodge
  • DS
  • FIAT
  • Ford
  • Geely Emgrand
  • Genesis
  • Honda
  • Hyundai
  • Infiniti
  • Isuzu
  • Iveco
  • Jaguar
  • Jeep
  • Kia
  • Lancia
  • Land Rover
  • Landwind
  • LEVC
  • Lexus
  • Ligier
  • Lucid
  • Lynk & Co
  • Maserati
  • Maxus
  • Mazda
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • MG
  • Microcar
  • MINI
  • Mitsubishi
  • Mobilize
  • NIO
  • Nissan
  • Opel/Vauxhall
  • ORA
  • Peugeot
  • Polestar
  • Porsche
  • Proton
  • Qoros
  • Renault
  • Rover
  • Saab
  • SEAT
  • Skoda
  • smart
  • SsangYong
  • Subaru
  • Suzuki
  • Tazzari
  • Tesla
  • Toyota
  • Volvo
  • VW
  • WEY


  • Class
  • Business and Family Van
  • Executive
  • Large Family Car
  • Large MPV
  • Large Off-Road
  • Pick-up
  • Roadster Sport
  • Small Family Car
  • Small MPV
  • Small Off-Road
  • Supermini

Electronic Stability Control

ESC Test

ESC is highly effective in helping the driver maintain control of the car, thereby avoiding or reducing the severity of crashes. Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is a technology that improves the vehicle’s stability by detecting and reducing loss of traction.


Euro NCAP has rewarded broad fitment of ESC by the vehicle manufacturer since 2009. Between 2011 and 2013, additional functionality tests on all cars equipped with ESC were performed. The system was assessed by performing a series of so called “sine-with dwell” tests, based on an actual double lane change manoeuvre.

These tests were carried out at 80 km/h with sudden steering wheel rotations up to 270 degrees. The sideways displacement, the stability and the vehicle’s ability to follow a straight path are evaluated. In 2014, the fitment of ESC systems has become mandatory for all new vehicles and therefore Euro NCAP has stopped testing the system.


ESC introduced in 2009, no longer rewarded by 2016

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