NuBrakes Blog A Comprehensive Guide to Car Safety Ratings, Key Features, and the Crucial Role of Brake Maintenance Image

A Comprehensive Guide to Car Safety Ratings, Key Features, and the Crucial Role of Brake Maintenance

Car safety should always be a top priority for drivers.

Whether we are talking about the safety of passengers, pedestrians, or drivers, ensuring that a vehicle is safe on the road is crucial.

Motor vehicle accidents can cause life-threatening injuries or even death, so minimizing the risk is important. In this article, we'll aim to help magnify the significance of brake maintenance, how it influences crash avoidance and pedestrian safety, and also discuss tips for ensuring overall vehicle safety.

Key Takeaways:

  • Car safety extends beyond just having safety features. It involves correct utilization, like wearing seat belts properly and installing car seats correctly, following traffic rules, avoiding distractions, and maintaining regular vehicle inspections and checks.

  • The state of your brakes directly impacts vehicle safety and crash avoidance. Regular brake inspections and appropriate responses to brake issues, such as unusual noises or feelings when braking, are vital.

  • Driving habits, terrain, and climate all affect how often brakes need servicing. However, a yearly inspection is a good general guideline.

  • Systems like Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS) and Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) can enhance safety and crash avoidance, but they can only function optimally if the basic brake components are well maintained.

What's Car Safety and Why is it Important?

Before we delve into brake maintenance, let's start with car safety. It can be defined as the practice of implementing measures that help prevent, minimize, or control the risk of physical harm in a motor vehicle. It involves a combination of safety features, driver behavior, and regulatory standards that help ensure passenger safety while on the road.

Understanding Car Safety Ratings

Car safety ratings exist to help consumers make informed choices when purchasing or renting a vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) are two major players in vehicle safety.

Rating Type

Rating Scale

Organizing Body


Additional Information

5-Star Safety Ratings

1-5 Stars

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

Provides consumers with information about the crash protection and rollover safety of new vehicles beyond what is required by Federal law.

1 Star being the lowest, and 5 Stars being the highest. More stars imply safer vehicles.

IIHS Safety Ratings

Good, Acceptable, Marginal, or Poor

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

The IIHS uses a 4-tier rating system to rate crashworthiness and headlight efficiency.

The highest IIHS rating is "Top Safety Pick+".

To earn this, a vehicle must score Good ratings in all six crash tests, a

Good or Acceptable rating for headlights, and a rating of Advanced or Superior for front crash prevention.

Rollover Resistance Rating (RRR)

Numerical (typically expressed in percentages)

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

The RRR rates the likelihood of a vehicle rollover in a serious single-vehicle crash.

It is based on two factors: a static stability factor (SSF) that measures how top-heavy a vehicle is, and an estimation of the vehicle's center of gravity (CG). Higher ratings suggest lower rollover risk.

The Importance of Car Safety Features

Safety features are critical components in a car that help reduce the chances of sustaining physical harm during a crash. Some standard car equipment can include seat belts, airbags, and crash avoidance technologies such as lane-keeping assist.

Safety Feature


Additional Information

Adaptive Cruise Control

Automatically adjusts the vehicle's speed to keep a pre-set distance from the vehicle in front of it.

This feature reduces driver fatigue on long trips and can help prevent rear-end collisions.

Lane Departure Warning

Alerts the driver when the vehicle begins to drift out of its lane.

Some systems can gently steer the vehicle back into its lane or vibrate the steering wheel to alert the driver.

Automatic Emergency Braking

Uses sensors to detect an imminent crash and applies the brakes if the driver does not respond in time.

This feature can help to reduce the severity of a crash or even prevent it altogether.

Blind Spot Monitoring

Alerts the driver when there is a vehicle in their blind spot.

This feature typically uses radar sensors mounted on the rear of the vehicle.

Rearview Camera

Provides a view of what is behind the vehicle to assist with backing up.

This feature is especially helpful in preventing accidents with objects or people behind the vehicle that may be difficult to see from the driver's seat.

Forward Collision Warning

Alerts the driver when the vehicle is approaching another vehicle too quickly.

This feature often works in tandem with Automatic Emergency Braking systems to prevent crashes.

Electronic Stability Control

Helps the driver maintain control of the vehicle during sudden maneuvers or on slippery roads.

This feature uses sensors to monitor vehicle stability and can selectively apply the brakes to individual wheels to help maintain control.

Anti-lock Braking System

Prevents the wheels from locking up during hard braking, allowing the driver to maintain steering control.

This feature can help drivers avoid obstacles while braking hard.


Deploy in the event of a crash to help protect the occupants of the vehicle.

Modern vehicles often have multiple airbags, including front, side, and curtain airbags, each designed to protect a specific part of the occupant's body.

Crumple Zones

Designed to absorb the energy of a crash and help protect the occupants of the vehicle.

These are typically located at the front and rear of the vehicle and are designed to deform in a controlled way during a crash

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How to Ensure Vehicle Safety

Vehicle safety involves several elements, from the design and functionality of safety features in your car to individual practices.

Here's what you need to know:

The Role of Seat Belts in Vehicle Safety

One of the most straightforward yet effective ways to minimize fatalities and serious injuries during a car accident is to ensure that all occupants wear seat belts. A properly worn seat belt reduces the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45%, and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50%. Make sure every passenger in the car wears seat belts at all times.

It is also important that children under the age of 12 are seated in the back seat and are appropriately strapped into either a booster seat or a car seat depending on their age, height, and weight.

Importance of Properly Installed Car Seats

Car seats are a critical safety measure for children. They are designed to protect infants and young children from severe injuries in the event of a crash. 

A correctly installed and appropriately sized car seat can reduce the risk of infant fatality by 71%, and for toddlers (aged 1-4 years) the risk can be reduced by 54%.

Always ensure the car seat is properly installed and is suitable for the child's age and size.

Vehicle Safety Inspections and Maintenance Checks

Regular maintenance checks and inspections contribute significantly to your car's safety on the road. These inspections ensure that your vehicle remains in optimal condition and maintains its performance.

Make sure to always complete brake inspections, tire rotations, and oil changes at the recommended intervals. In addition to these, also check your tire pressure regularly, ensure your lights (headlights, brake lights, and turn signals) are working correctly, and keep your windshields and windows clean for good visibility.

Additional Safety Measures

  1. Avoid Distracted Driving: Always keep your attention on the road. Distracted driving, such as texting, eating, or even fiddling with the stereo, is a leading cause of accidents.

  2. Respect Traffic Rules: Obey speed limits, stop signs, and traffic lights. These rules are there to ensure the smooth and safe flow of traffic.

  3. Use Driver Assist Features: Utilize your car's safety features such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitoring, etc., when appropriate. These features are designed to assist your driving and increase safety.

The Importance of Brake Maintenance for Vehicle Safety

Brakes are among the most vital components of a vehicle, playing an instrumental role in ensuring safety and crash avoidance. A well-maintained brake system allows a driver to control the vehicle's speed effectively and stop quickly when necessary, contributing to overall road safety.

Conversely, worn-out or damaged brake components can compromise the vehicle's safety and put the driver, car occupants, and others on the road in danger.

Signs of Brake Problems that Indicate the Need for Maintenance

Recognizing potential issues with your brakes is key to maintaining vehicle safety. Common signs that your vehicle needs brake maintenance include:

  • Noisy or squeaky sound when you press the brake pedal

  • Grinding sensation during braking, which might indicate worn-out brake pads

  • Brake pedal feeling soft or spongy, indicating a potential problem with your brake fluid or brake lines

  • Steering wheel shaking or vibrations when you press the brake pedal, possibly suggesting issues with your brake rotors

  • The vehicle pulls to one side when braking, which can suggest uneven wear on the brake pads or a problem with the brake fluid distribution.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it's important to have your brakes checked immediately to prevent potential accidents.

How Often Do Brakes Need to be Replaced?

The frequency of brake services largely depends on driving habits, terrain, and climate. For instance, city drivers with frequent starts and stops can wear brakes more quickly than highway driving.

Similarly, driving in hilly terrain can cause more brake wear than driving on flat roads. That being said, a good rule of thumb is to have a brake inspection at least once a year.

Always consult your vehicle's owner manual or your mechanic for specific recommendations for your vehicle.

The Role of Brakes in Crash Avoidance and Pedestrian Safety

Brakes are a crucial tool in avoiding vehicle crashes and protecting pedestrians. They enable you to stop your vehicle in time to prevent a collision, whether it's with another vehicle, an obstacle, or a pedestrian. Therefore, maintaining your brakes is critical for preventing crashes, and thus, ensuring the safety of all road users.

In addition, vehicles equipped with advanced braking systems such as Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS) or Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) can greatly improve your ability to avoid accidents. However, these systems can only function optimally if the basic brake components are in good condition.

Ignoring the signs of brake issues is not an option; your safety and the safety of others could be at risk. 

So if you notice any of the common symptoms of brake problems, don't wait—contact us immediately. 

At Nubrakes, we've built our services around you, providing expert, reliable, and convenient brake maintenance at your doorstep.

Furthermore, remember that brake maintenance isn't just about addressing issues but also about prevention. Therefore, even if you're not noticing any immediate problems, regular brake checks are a smart practice. Schedule a brake inspection with Nubrakes today, and let's make your driving safer, together.

Road safety is a shared responsibility, and we're all in this together. Be a part of the solution by giving your brakes the attention they deserve. 

Choose Nubrakes for your brake maintenance, choose safety, and help us all master road safety.

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