5 Safety Features Every Used Car Should Have
Purchasing a preowned vehicle? Be sure it’s up-to-date with these important features.
Used vehicles can be good choices for budget-conscious buyers: The sale price may be lower, and they may cost less to insure. But don’t trade safety for savings when you shop for a preowned car. Make sure your purchase is road-ready and equipped with these important safety features:
- Air Bags: Frontal-impact bags have been required on all cars since 1998, the same year side-curtain air bags were introduced. Air bags are important because they can prevent head injuries as well as protect drivers and passengers from debris in the event of a collision.
- Antilock Brakes (ABS): If you brake abruptly, ABS helps you stop quickly and maintain steering control. Many vehicles manufactured before 1987 do not have ABS.
- Electronic Stability Control (ESC): This feature prevents skidding when turning, making it useful in slick conditions or when maneuvering to avoid collisions. ESC was introduced in 1995; it became standard in 2012.
- Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH): If your child uses a safety seat, LATCH allows you to install it without seat belts. The restraint system is available on most vehicles built since 2002.
- Lap and Shoulder Seat Belts: Older vehicles may simply have lap belts, which aren’t as safe. For added safety, look for seat belts with pretensioners and adjustable upper anchors.
Additional safety considerations:
- Have a reputable and trustworthy mechanic inspect the car before you buy.
- Ask to view the service record to be sure the vehicle has been properly maintained.
- Request a vehicle history report to learn whether the car has been involved in an accident or flood and to verify mileage.
- Research the model’s safety scorecard by referring to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Picks.