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SUV Roof Crush Testing

Understanding How Roof Crush Tests Work

Currently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires a static test, known as Safety Standard 216, to every car and truck under 6,000 pounds before it can be sold in the United States. Critics say the test doesn't come close to replicating what happens in a real-world rollover leading to dangerously weak roofs. Alternative tests (drop and dolly test) can help show how roofs will perform in real world rollovers.


If you or a loved one has suffered serious injury in a rollover or roof crush accident, contact Miller Weisbrod, LLP, to discuss your real options for obtaining maximum recovery from negligent manufacturers. Our experienced lawyers represent clients nationwide.

Safety Standard 216 Test

The standard federal roof-crush resistance test that is required for all vehicles is called the "216" test:

  • A vehicle is placed on a flat surface
  • A flat, steel rectangular shaped plate is pushed into the vehicle's roof structure
  • The plate us applies one and a half times the unloaded weight of the vehicle onto the roof
  • During the test, the plate is angled, positioned and shifted to simulate vehicle-to-ground contact on the roof over the front seat area
  • The plate is placed at various locations on the vehicle's roof, depending upon the slope of the vehicle's roof to put stress on the roof over the front seat
  • A vehicle complies if the roof crush is less than 5 inches before the maximum pressure is applied

Inverted Drop Test

The inverted drop test is a better indicator of A-pillar performance:

  • A vehicle is suspended upside down by steel cables
  • The cables are adjusted for a specific angle to concentrate force on the key A-pillar, which supports the windshield
  • The drop height varies from a few inches to a few feet, depending on the force required

Dolly Test

Automakers have the option of using the dolly test instead of the current 216 test, but few, if any, do. In this test:

  • A vehicle is placed on a sled inclined at a 23-degree angle and is accelerated to 30 mph
  • The sled comes to a sudden and complete stop
  • The test vehicle is forced over a 4-inch block and forced into a rollover
  • Test dummies inside the vehicle are measured for injuries as the vehicle rolls several times
  • The roof crush measured in this test will more closely replicate real world rollovers

Contact Us

We keep up to date on the latest research regarding roof crush tests and other auto design defects that could affect our clients' cases. We bring our demonstrated trial experience and in-depth knowledge of the way cars function to hold negligent automakers accountable for products that should prevent serious injuries and fatalities. For more information, contact our office at 214.987.0005 to discuss your rights and legal options with an experienced trial lawyer.


We offer free initial consultations to potential clients nationwide. If you are calling from outside the DFW Metroplex, please use our toll-free line at 888.987.0005 or contact us by e-mail to schedule an appointment.