Car Buying

Car Safety Features You'll Want to Have

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author photo by Doug DeMuro December 2013

If you're shopping for a new car, you're probably already thinking about safety. But in case you could use some guidance, we've listed a few of the most important car safety features on the market. In our opinion, these items are must-have features on any new car, as each one can improve road safety for you, your passengers and even other drivers.

Anti-lock Brakes

An anti-lock braking system (ABS) is a life-saving safety feature that activates just when you're panicking the most: during hard braking. In cars without ABS, the brakes can lock up during panic stops, causing skid marks and longer stopping distances. But in cars equipped with ABS, the system lightly pulses the brake pedal, which prevents the brakes from locking. The result is shorter stopping distances -- something that could save your life.

Side-curtain Airbags

We highly recommend you make sure your next car includes side-curtain airbags, especially if you often carry passengers. That's because side-curtain airbags are designed to deploy in a side impact to prevent head injury. As side-curtain airbags inflate during the split second after an accident, they stop your head from hitting hard surfaces, such as the window or the object that just hit your vehicle. They, too, can mean the difference between life and serious injury or death.

Stability Control

While traction control is very helpful, stability control is arguably the most important active electronic driving aid. That's because traction control helps keep you going straight as you accelerate, while stability control helps you steer out of a skid and can stop you from sliding. While traction control is important, stability control is essential. The U.S. government thought so, too, and mandated that automakers include stability control on every new car sold beginning with the 2012 model year.

Parking Assist

Once you get a parking-assist system, you'll wonder how you ever managed to live without it. Whether we're talking about a reversing camera, a multi-camera setup (such as Nissan's Around View monitor) or a simple beeper that alerts you when you're too close to something, parking assist systems are increasingly becoming must-haves. That's especially true as cars become more expensive, which means that repairs -- even from a parking lot collision -- are also increasingly pricey. But parking-assist systems don't only protect against low-speed parking lot fender-benders. They can also help you avoid dangerous back-over accidents, which commonly occur in driveways and involve small children or pets.

Don't Stop There

Of course, there are many other car safety features on the market, and it seems like more become available with each new model year. We strongly suggest you consider all the latest safety technology when buying a new car, including features such as rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring. They may not be as essential as the ones we've listed above, but they still help make the road a safer place.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Car Safety Features You'll Want to Have - Autotrader