Shopping for a used car? In addition to good crash test ratings, you’ll want to look for two must-have safety features: electronic stability control (ESC) and side airbags that protect both the head and torso.

ESC helps drivers maintain control on curves and slippery roads. It cuts in half the risk of a fatal single-vehicle crash. ESC has been required in all vehicles since the 2012 model year, but many older models have it as well. Check ESC availability on any vehicle dating back to the 1996 model year.

About one-third of occupant deaths occur in side impacts. Side airbags that protect both the head and chest can greatly reduce these deaths. The majority of 2008 and later models have them. Consult our database to find out the type of side airbags a vehicle has and whether they are standard or optional.

Select a make:

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Standard
Optional
  Not available
ModelAvailability
Standard
Optional
  Not available
ModelHead protection availabilityChest protection availability
DriverPassengerRear3rd rowDriverPassengerRear3rd row

What is ESC?

Electronic stability control, or ESC, uses the speed sensors on each wheel and the ability to brake individual wheels that are the basis of antilock brakes. ESC adds a steering angle sensor and a vehicle rotation rate sensor that measures rotation around the vehicle’s vertical axis. When the steering and rotation sensors detect that the vehicle isn’t pointed in the direction indicated by the steering wheel position, ESC automatically brakes the appropriate wheel to help the driver maintain control. In many cases engine throttle also is reduced.

How ESC works

How does ESC help drivers maintain control?

A driver loses control when a vehicle goes in a direction different from the one indicated by the position of the steering wheel. This typically occurs when a driver tries to turn very hard or to turn on a slippery road. Then the vehicle may understeer or oversteer. When it oversteers (above right) it turns more than the driver intended. The rear end slides out because the rear wheels have insufficient traction. When a vehicle understeers (above left) it turns less than the driver intended and continues in a forward direction because the front wheels have insufficient traction. ESC can prevent understeering and oversteering by briefly braking the appropriate wheel. In many cases engine throttle also is reduced.

Percent ESC availability by vehicle type

Model yearCarsSUVsPickupsAll
StandardOptionalNot availableStandardOptionalNot availableStandardOptionalNot availableStandardOptionalNot available
20119055100  7215139244
20108875100  6223685411
2009741412100  381943741115
20086518179613112070631324
20075617278821191477511236
20064819346652811683411445
2005371845381250 1882291655
2004341848231858 595221563
2003301753171568 298191269
200228165610386  10016975
20012411659289  10014680
2000178753 97  1009486
199988841 99  1004491
19985590  100  1003394
19972297  100  1001198
19961297  100  1001198
19951 99  100  1001 99

See more crash avoidance technologies research in our topics section.

Percent driver side airbag availability by protection area

Model yearHead/torsoHead onlyTorso onlyNot
available
StandardOptionalNot availableStandardOptionalNot availableStandardOptionalNot available
201390.34.6 2.21.1 0.7  1.1
201283.94.5 7.61.7 0.1  1.5
201183.22.4 7.42.8 1  3.2
2010770.8 10.42.2 1.1  8.4
200964.55.3 11.96.9 1  10.3
200858.96.8 9.89.7 20.10 12.6
200747.611.5 3.715.1 2.30.1 19.7
200638.315.3 1.914.8 5.63.3 20.8
200531.915.6 1.813.6 5.65.7 25.8
20042712.3 1.78.4 5.410.8 34.4
200322.110.3 1.56.2 810.9 41
200220.38.8 0.43.7 13.44.6 48.9
200118.69.4  1.4 9.64.3 56.8
200010.16.9    12.82.4 67.7
19995.42.2    12.52.6 77.3
19981.3     13.71.9 83.1
1997      3.60.4 96
1996       1.3 98.7
1995      0.4  99.6

See more airbag research in our topics section.