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 a great choice for budget-conscious buyers: Typically they’re more affordable and 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, which is the same year side-curtain air bags were introduced. Air bags are important because they can prevent head injuries, and protect drivers and passengers from debris in the event of a collision.

Antilock Brakes (ABS)

When you have to slam on the brakes, 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 welcomed for 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, safely and easily, without seat belts. The restraint system is available on most vehicles built since 2002.

Seat Belts

Seat belts have been standard for years, but they haven’t always looked like the three-point lap-and-shoulder belts typical of today’s cars. Older vehicles simply may 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 if 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.