Deterioration of safety with age - Mike H
I've often wondered how badly the safety of cars is compromised by age. Amongst other cars, I run a 1996 Megane which had a 4-star NCAP rating when it was new. I do appreciate that NCAP is about inbuilt design as well as structural integrity, but there must be a point where key parts of the structure are no longer as sound as they were. I would hope that the Megane isn't too affected by tin worm as IIRC it's partly galvanised, but being a relatively small and light car it does depend on it's structural integrity more than my heavyweights (Saab 9-5 and 9000).

Anyone have any thoughts?

Deterioration of safety with age - Adam {P}
I don't have any intellectual thoughts (what's new) but size has a lot to do with it. I mean - would you rather crash in a K reg Scorpio or an 06 plate Fiesta?
Deterioration of safety with age - cheddar

I agree in as much I would have thought that a K reg Scorpio would be fairly safe though it is based on a car launched in '84. Perhaps dangerous to assume that a big 15 to 20 year old design is safer than a small new car.
Deterioration of safety with age - Westpig
Adam, do you know i've often thought that and suspect you're right..........

but........playing devils advocate and i'm good at that............. some years ago an ex-girlfriend crashed my mk1 triumph 2000 into a 3 series BMW......mullahed both of them........the 3 series was a total cheerio job, with a buckled roof and allsorts, but the Triumph was a new nearside inner wing,outer wing and suspension etc (i even retrieved the hubcap from a 100 yard jaunt down the road) and a little trip on a lorry jig, cos the car one couldn't handle it.... and off you go again, didn't even change the bonnet, even though it had overlapped the damaged area by a good 3 inches before repair......

however....... the mechanic kindly pointed out the steering column and advised that an offside crash instead of the nearside could have easily had the steering column spear the driver as it wasn't collapsible......

so in other words, it was built like a brick out house and went right through the 3 series, but at what cost to the occupants in some situations.........(i've still got the thing some 20 years later)

an interesting one what point does big outweigh small, even though small might have a shed load more safety features

Deterioration of safety with age - henry k
>>some years ago an ex-girlfriend crashed my mk1 triumph 2000 into a 3 series BMW....

Some years ago my Mk11 Triumph 2000 was squashed in a low speed (10 -20 mph) sandwich.
Driver in a Volvo hit the gas not the brake then hit a Transit caravan that hit me and I adjusted a Merc tailgate.
The Triumph bonnet, boot and doors did not survive very well. The drivers door was jammed, Radiator gone etc. etc. all at such low speed so I was not impressed with the survivability of said vehicle.

A while back IIRC 5th gear did a demo of two older cars crashing and it was not a pretty outcome.
The rust certainly seemed to have badly affected the strength of the shells.
It certainly make me scrap my last car when the first serious rust appeared.
Deterioration of safety with age - rtj70
Depends on the accident but I did have a crash in an 06 plate Fiesta. An HGV run into the back of it. The rear badly damaged but the only lasting injury I had was the back of my head cut open due to the roof buckling.

Okay if I was in a Scorpio a lot more car behind to absorb the energy of the HGV but the Fiesta is pretty tough. If I knew of somewhere to post a picture of the Fiesta after the crash I'd share it with you all.
Deterioration of safety with age - v0n
I would worry more about electronics failing with time - bags not deploying, ESP miscalculations etc. Fifth Gear Discovery vs. Grand Scenic crash springs to mind again - IIRC airbags didn't deploy in R plate Disco upon impact. It's not something tested at MOTand not something you can try and see if it works at home...
[Nissan 2.2 dCi are NOT Renault engines. Grrr...]
Deterioration of safety with age - runboy
From the topic description I thought you were refering to drivers and not their vehicles!

I'll leave the country now...

Deterioration of safety with age - Gromit {P}
Adam: ...size has a lot to do with it. I mean - would you rather crash in a K reg Scorpio or an 06 plate Fiesta?

Me? A 06 Fiesta, please.

When Euro NCAP started, one of the first findings (which they emphasised at the time) was that size and kerb weight were found to have little influence on crash resistance. Its careful design that makes cars crash-worthy. So, the 06 Fiesta will have been designed drawing on ten years worth of know-how from NCAP (and similar) test programmes that the Scorpio didn't benefit from.

Look at the early results for, say, 1996 C class Mercedes (two start, AFAIK) vs. 1996 Volvo S40 (four star) or Rover Metro (one star) vs. Fiat Punto (three star) - you can also judge from the results that, though crash tests between large and small cars aren't directly comparable, that from the injuries an occupant would have received, some of the smaller cars were safer.

As to deterioration with age, so long as the passenger cell hasn't suffered structural rust (polymer-based parts such as shock-absorbing padding or deformable cabin parts wont' degrade over time), a properly maintained ten-year old car should be as safe as it was when new.
Deterioration of safety with age - Mookfish
Depends on the type of crash. Side impact, without a doubt newer car. Rear impact I'd rather be in an big old car (saloon preferably) than a new small hatchback.

Worth remembering that NCAP rating are different depending on size category of the vehicle. eg a 4 star executive saloon could be safer than a 5 star supermini.
Deterioration of safety with age - Cliff Pope
From the topic description I thought you were refering to drivers
and not their vehicles!

I used to be a live wire, now I'm a loose cannon.
Deterioration of safety with age - Westpig
couple of years ago saw the result of an articulated fuel tanker that rammed the back of a Toyota Yaris, at speed, in fog on the A303........... very bad accident........... Yaris had stopped in a queue & tanker didn't know

turned out the Yaris family were my sister's neighbours.......mum,dad and 2 kids got out as walking wounded...

absolutely unbelievable if you could have seen the damage, there appeared to be very little left as you drove past.
Deterioration of safety with age - yorkiebar
Regardless of the ncap ratings I would far rather be in a large car than a small car, subject to it being structurally sound etc.

Have seen the results of lots of accidents and if nothing else large cars have more bodywork that absorbs impact before the passenger compartment does.

Side impact is different from head on and side airbags, side impact bars etc all make a difference, as does room from human body to the door!

ratings are good to judge 1 car against another in the same class imo, but unless you understand what is tested and how its tested its not necessarily correct to compare different size cars to each other?
Deterioration of safety with age - jase1
Older designs based their safety around structural rigidity rather than crumple zones, which have since proven much more effective.

You try crashing an old Lada into a modern car. The Lada would annihilate the newer motor, and probably escape virtually intact. The problem is that the occupants would experience more forces inside, with the result that the risk of injury is a lot higher.

Wouldn't be too worried about a 10yo Scenic though, they seem to have a good reputation for safety if nothing else, and aren't they the one where the front wings are made out of the same substance they make wheely-bins out of?
Deterioration of safety with age - yorkiebar
I dint really mean older cars as in that old.

i was thinking more of Granada versus 06 fiesta ec
Deterioration of safety with age - Statistical outlier
Side impact bars - AFAIK they can be pretty lethal without side airbags as well. They concentrate the impact into a much smaller area of the chest, rather than the whole door coming in and loading fairly evenly. There was a big article on this years ago that bemoaned the triumph of marketing over actual safety. Can't remember where tho, sorry, possibly Sunday Times?

I think this was pre NCAP, so probably a short lived phase, even so, unintended consequences etc.
Deterioration of safety with age - madf
Well I have seen too many older cars in scrappies which looked not too bad externally but many internal panels eg side panels under bonnet were corroded, rust in seams and spot welds , and suspension holding steel sections corroded fro the inside out: not fully perforated but material covered with rusty scale which when hit with a screwdriver perforated easily.

And I recall Saabs having a reputation for cracking bulkheads, omegas for unpainted stell sections corroding internally and Fiats rusting everywhere. Look at a 12 year old Jag.. rust protection? Joke.

I would guess in a bad smash many would fold up and crumple zones would not crumple evenly but collapse. Would that make them any less safe? Dunno but I suggest in a rollover type accident the safety cgae holding people could easily collapse.

And I've seen enough rusty Mondeos to suggest a rear impact could lead to total collapse around rear wheel arches due to rust...As for Mark 3 Fiestas ....

I have seen piccies of Yarises in crashes: very resilient for a small car.. Now a Mark1 Fiat Panda looked a deathtrap when new.. and are notorious rust boxes as are original Minis...

Deterioration of safety with age - M.M
I retain concerns over almost all restored "classic" cars that are post seperate chassis for this very reason. Even from the expensive specialists the repair methods often look to have a strength of less than 50% of the original... and in some pretty crucial areas.

Even worse are things like MGBs run on a "patch when needed" basis. Some that just meet the minimum MOT standards would collapse in a pile of rust scale at the slightest bump.

As madf says the same is true of many early 1990s cars. Thing is they often loook quite presentable.
Deterioration of safety with age - madf
Regarding classic cars, I recall a writer on early XKs stating around 10 years ago that most Jaguars of the 1940s-60s with ladder frame chassis were probably unsafe as the steel sections were unprotetced internally and hence were probably half rusted through.. and indeed I understand many have had to be repaired around the rear wheels due to rust. Mark 6 Bentleys suffer badly too I believe in this area.

I remember seeing a picture of a 1929/30 Bentley 4 1/4 litre Bentley once that crashed killing driver and passenger. the chassis had broken in two. Rust or otherwise? I don't know.

I has a 1946 Rover 16 and sprayed oil inside the box chassis : whether that actually prevented rust I doubt cos much rust round rear wheel area is from the top close o body and therefore invisible unless the body was removed.

Deterioration of safety with age - jase1
As madf says the same is true of many early 1990s
cars. Thing is they often loook quite presentable.

And the reverse is often true as well.

Both my old Cavalier and my current Sunny look pretty tatty on the outside, rusty wheelarches etc.

However look underneath and they're as solid as they had been 5 years ago.

On the other hand, an old guy down the road had a 15-year-old Daihatsu Charade. Not a mark on the bodywork, where the old boy had waxed the car meticulously every Saturday. Underneath, festering. You could see the rot peeling away if you looked carefully enough.

Ask Honest John

Value my car