Shopping for a Safe Car | NJM

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Shopping for a Safe Car

Whether you or your students are buying a new or used car, it is important to ensure that it has essential safety features.

Ensure the car has basic safety features such as:

  • Air bags
  • Antilock Braking Systems (ABS)
  • Electronic stability controls
  • Backup camera
  • Seatbelts with LATCH systems

You should also consider enhanced safety features such as:

  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Lane departure warning systems
  • Pedestrian detection
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Blind spot warning
  • Active head restraints
  • Parking assist systems
  • Tire pressure monitors
  • Telematics

Research Before Buying

Students benefit from direct instruction on how to conduct research. As educators, you can support them in becoming responsible consumers by guiding their research into their first car and providing links to trusted sources.

For example, these resources can help you and your students make smart car-buying decisions:

  • NHTSA publishes car safety ratings.

  • NHTSA compiles vehicle and accessory recalls.

  • The National Safety Council's can educate you about different safety features available from different car manufacturers.

  • Publications such as Consumer Reports and J.D. Power rate vehicles' reliability and quality.

Ask Questions When Buying Used

Used cars with a history of crashes or poor maintenance could have compromised safety features.

When considering a used vehicle, think critically and ask questions, including:

  • Has the vehicle been in any collisions? If so, how bad was the damage and who repaired it?

  • How many owners has this vehicle had?

  • Are there any recalls on the vehicle?

  • Are maintenance and repair receipts available?

  • Does the title include any notes, such as "reconditioned," "salvage," "junk," "flood," or "rebuilt"?

  • Are there any signs of undisclosed damage?

Consult one of the available websites offering vehicle histories on used cars to assess ownership, mileage, possible defects, and more.

Finally, before making a purchase decision, a buyer should always ensure that their insurance company is ready to start covering the new car from the moment the new owner starts the engine.

Don't cut corners when searching for a new or used vehicle. Taking the extra time to find a safe vehicle now could pay dividends down the road.

The information contained in this article should not be construed as professional advice, and is not intended to replace official sources. Other resources linked from these pages are maintained by independent providers; therefore, NJM cannot guarantee their accuracy.