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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 07-31-2007, 11:01 AM Thread Starter
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Little car vs big car

I have been thinking this over in my head and can't work it out for the life of me. All cars obviously have a safety rating. The one that I am interested in is head on, rear end, or t-bone type collision. For instance, during the head on test they take a vehicle and basically slam it in to a wall and see how it does. In this test large and small vehicles are more or less equal because while a bigger vehicle may have more in the way of frame or protection it also has more inertia to deal with. But this is not really a real world head on situation. In a real world situation you typically do not hit a wall but another vehicle. What happens now that you lets say have a smaller vehicle and you nail a large vehicle head on? It seems to me that even though you may have a 5 star rating your still going to sustain a lot more damage then the larger car. This is not something I have seen anyone buying a smaller car consider. So am I wrong and is it a non issue?
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 07-31-2007, 11:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leavundst View Post
So am I wrong and is it a non issue?
No, you are not wrong. If you are driving a smaller car and you get hit my a larger car head on, you will sustain more damage. I assume the wall is the only standardized and repeatable test available, or you would have to test every car vs. every other car. If you are concerned about getting hit by an H2, you'll just have to buy something bigger than that. (Note, if everone has this attitude, vehicles will just continue to get heavier and heavier. A friend of mine just traded his Passat wagon for an SUV because he "felt safer" in the SUV.) So yes, more intertia will always win.

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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 07-31-2007, 11:48 AM
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I am not so sure about the "more inertia will always win". There's Newton's third law: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton's_laws_of_motion#Newton.27s_third_law:_law_ of_reciprocal_actions

Basically, during the impact, the forces smashing both cars will be equal (if it wouldn't be so, the bullets which only weight several grams would bounce off human bodies, instead of smashing both).

To be truly safe from collision with most cars you really need a tall vehicle - like a real truck where you would seat high above any potential impact areas. HOWEVER, unless you will want to have a huge wheel base like real trucks do, your gain in safety from sitting high is negated by the tendency to roll over.

I don't remember seeing many SUVs do well in safety ratings.

But yes, assuming that cars do not roll over during the impact, large vehicle is safer simply because passengers are less exposed to the impact zones. Physical/mechanical damage is likely to be the same (unless large vehicle has sturdier construction).

Overall, though... I won't buy an SUV. I firmly believe that good sedan like Audi A6 / G35 is safer overall. And if I need to carry lots of shit, I'd rather buy a cheap van.

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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 07-31-2007, 12:04 PM Thread Starter
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oh dude, I'm not getting a little car until I have no choice but get one. I tow a lot of crap and in general enjoy a large car. I just think people in small cars are sold a false sense of security.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 07-31-2007, 12:21 PM
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a wall is bigger than SUVs. and crash saftey ratings aren't based on damage, it's based on driver safety. cars have crunch zones to sustain some impact, sacrificing car damage for your safety. the problem with SUVs isn't only the mass, it's the location. they don't hit the bumper where they should, and thats where the false sense of safety is. example: if a lifted SUV t-bones your side window, you aren't going to have much protection.

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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 07-31-2007, 12:40 PM
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You want to see scary safety ratings check out off center head on collision stastics. No one does well in that Large or small vehicle.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 07-31-2007, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stumbl1 View Post
You want to see scary safety ratings check out off center head on collision stastics. No one does well in that Large or small vehicle.
+1
That is the newer tests they are doing now for realistic crashes. No matter on the size of the vehicle, you want one that can slow down the G forces that your body is taking when your vehicle is in an accident.


And does it matter how safe your car is in a crash??? We all ride motorcycles.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 07-31-2007, 01:01 PM
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Force Applied = Mass x Deceleration.

If two vehicles of exactly equal mass collide at exactly the same speed
they will each come to a dead stop within a distance that is equal to
the deformation of the front of the vehicles.


A heavier vehicle wins this argument because it has more kinetic energy
and will therefore apply more force even if speed is equal.

Net: heavy vehicle wins, period.


That said, some good points above about crash worthiness's and protection.

The crash standards for cars are more advanced than the crash standards for trucks. plus the rollover risk is real in many situations.


It's really all kind of trade-offs.



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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 07-31-2007, 03:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leavundst View Post
oh dude, I'm not getting a little car until I have no choice but get one. I tow a lot of crap and in general enjoy a large car. I just think people in small cars are sold a false sense of security.


I believe the same about the SUVs (and there are a bunch of articles on the internet, as well as crash test ratings to support that). To each its own, I guess. With the SUV you give up the active protection and gain some passive protection just because you sit higher (sorry, but more weight theory is complete bullshit). With smaller cars you sit lower, therefore giving up some passive protection, but you gain maneuverability and more resistance to rollovers.

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Last edited by Fracker; 07-31-2007 at 03:32 PM.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 07-31-2007, 03:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BLARNEY View Post
Force Applied = Mass x Deceleration.

If two vehicles of exactly equal mass collide at exactly the same speed
they will each come to a dead stop within a distance that is equal to
the deformation of the front of the vehicles.


A heavier vehicle wins this argument because it has more kinetic energy
and will therefore apply more force even if speed is equal.

Net: heavy vehicle wins, period.
I'm sorry, but this is bullshit. Yes, heavy vehicle has more kinetic energy, however, any forces at the point of impact act both ways, no matter what their kinetic energies are, this is the Newton's 3rd law. More mass from either one of the vehicles involved will contribute to higher degree of transformation to BOTH vehicles (because of energy has to go somewhere). More likely even that at some point of impact smaller vehicle will simply bounce off and will be dragged by the heavier one.

But the forces acting at the point of impact are the same.


Consider this: you can't hit a wall with your fist harder without hurting your knuckles more.

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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 07-31-2007, 03:59 PM
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Look up the crash test results yourself.

http://www.safercar.gov/

http://www.iihs.org/

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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 07-31-2007, 04:03 PM
 
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I'm pretty sure that they don't use a smaller "wall" to test smaller cars and bigger "walls" when testing bigger cars..... also they are all tested at a range of speeds.
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 12:22 AM
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Dammit, now I have to come in and break this down or I won't be able to rest.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BLARNEY View Post
Force Applied = Mass x Deceleration.
True enough. This is Newton's second law.

Quote:
If two vehicles of exactly equal mass collide at exactly the same speed
they will each come to a dead stop within a distance that is equal to
the deformation of the front of the vehicles.
This sounds like you're assuming an inelastic collision, in which the two vehicles squish together and stick that way. Cars don't crash that way; they bounce, often as not. (Actually, they move as described by the momentum of their combined center of mass, this being conserved in collision, and therefore the smaller vehicle usually winds up being kicked backward in a head-on; but if you think I'm retyping that equation this late, you're more nuts than I am.)

Quote:
A heavier vehicle wins this argument because it has more kinetic energy
and will therefore apply more force even if speed is equal.
Incorrect, by Newton's third law. In fact, both vehicles will see the same force applied, but will react according to their individual masses; therefore, the average acceleration (or deceleration) of each vehicle is inversely proportional to its mass. In other words, a lighter vehicle sees higher acceleration, which can translate into higher forces on the occupants (via Newton's second law).

The other problem is that the smaller car usually has less capacity to absorb energy, which can mean it will be damaged more severely in a crash if it soaks up more of the energy in the crash. That isn't a given, though, since the energy absorption of each car depends on more than mass.

I'm copying a lot of this almost verbatim from my physics textbook, which is probably the first good use I've put it to in eleven years.

Quote:
Net: heavy vehicle wins, period.
Yep, and there's data out there to back this up. Now will you please stop putting up wrong answers so close to bedtime so I can get some sleep?

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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 07:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morrand View Post
Dammit, now I have to come in and break this down or I won't be able to rest.



True enough. This is Newton's second law.

In other words, a lighter vehicle sees higher acceleration, which can translate into higher forces on the occupants (via Newton's second law).

The other problem is that the smaller car usually has less capacity to absorb energy, which can mean it will be damaged more severely in a crash if it soaks up more of the energy in the crash.


Yep, and there's data out there to back this up.



Damn...... stir up Andrew and he goes all scientific Kung Foo on your ass.


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Without over complicating the physics ( for sake of discussion ) you
validated all the points I was attempting ( perhaps poorly ) to make.


all other things equal, big car wins.


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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 08:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morrand View Post
Dammit, now I have to come in and break this down or I won't be able to rest.



True enough. This is Newton's second law.



This sounds like you're assuming an inelastic collision, in which the two vehicles squish together and stick that way. Cars don't crash that way; they bounce, often as not. (Actually, they move as described by the momentum of their combined center of mass, this being conserved in collision, and therefore the smaller vehicle usually winds up being kicked backward in a head-on; but if you think I'm retyping that equation this late, you're more nuts than I am.)



Incorrect, by Newton's third law. In fact, both vehicles will see the same force applied, but will react according to their individual masses; therefore, the average acceleration (or deceleration) of each vehicle is inversely proportional to its mass. In other words, a lighter vehicle sees higher acceleration, which can translate into higher forces on the occupants (via Newton's second law).

The other problem is that the smaller car usually has less capacity to absorb energy, which can mean it will be damaged more severely in a crash if it soaks up more of the energy in the crash. That isn't a given, though, since the energy absorption of each car depends on more than mass.

I'm copying a lot of this almost verbatim from my physics textbook, which is probably the first good use I've put it to in eleven years.



Yep, and there's data out there to back this up. Now will you please stop putting up wrong answers so close to bedtime so I can get some sleep?
Thanks, You brought back my dynamics nightmares with that!

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post #16 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 09:54 AM
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Okay is it just me........

BUY whatever the hell YOU want. Screw the safety ratings cause you cant buy a car with the mindset of "am i gonna survive a crash if i get into a head on centered 23 degree crash angle?"
This really makes me laugh when i see this on a motorcycle board!

I am not trying to rain on a parade but really...If you like something than just buy it for what you really like. (looks or a safety rating)

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post #17 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 09:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Labdog View Post
Okay is it just me........

BUY whatever the hell YOU want. Screw the safety ratings cause you cant buy a car with the mindset of "am i gonna survive a crash if i get into a head on centered 23 degree crash angle?"
This really makes me laugh when i see this on a motorcycle board!

I am not trying to rain on a parade but really...If you like something than just buy it for what you really like. (looks or a safety rating)

In that case...

Yugo FTW!!!

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post #18 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 09:58 AM
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In that case...

Yugo FTW!!!

I was thinking back to the Gremlin/Pacer!!!!

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post #19 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 10:03 AM
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post #20 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 10:14 AM
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