Can Rust Affect Car Crash Safety?


We all know that rust on a car isn’t a good thing and if it isn’t effectively dealt with, your car will eventually meet a rusty end. Do you think rust can affect the crash safety of a car? A non-profit Swedish organisation, Villaagarnas Riksforbund, conducted some tests to find out...

Car safety technology is far more advanced today than it ever was and most new cars on the market offer relatively high levels of passive and active safety. However, many people can’t afford new cars and rather opt for older, used models that suit their budget and needs.

When those older cars were on sale, they too had to meet the safety standards of the day, but the age of the vehicle and the amount of rust it has can seemingly have a negative effect on the car’s ability maintain its crashworthiness over time.

Villaagarnas Riksforbund, a non-profit Swedish organisation, simulated EuroNCAP crash tests (frontal and side impact) on 2 used cars, the Mazda6 (2003-2008) and Volkswagen Golf (2004-2008), both of which exhibited a fair amount of rust. Also, importantly, the crash tests simulated the EuroNCAP guidelines prescribed when these cars were new. The guidelines of today are far more stringent.

The final result revealed that the old and rusty cars could not meet the same level of crash safety that they once exhibited, particularly in the case of the Mazda6.




The Mazda6 scored a weak 4 rating (26 points) on EuroNCAP’s 5-point rating system when it was a new car, but this rusty Mazda6 achieved a weak 3 (18 points) in these latest tests.

The researchers pointed out that “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. It was also suggested that passengers were at 20% more risk of being killed in an accident as a result of rust, which is significant.

Volkswagen Golf


The Golf fared much better and lost only 1 point in this test. When it was new, its EuroNCAP safety score was a weak 5 (33 points) and in this test it scored a strong 4 (32 points).

Rust on older cars is common, particularly for cars at the coast but used car buyers are advised to thoroughly inspect the vehicle for rust before buying it and if necessary seek advice on how to manage rust.

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