Safety Features to Look For When Buying a New Car

Friday, September 27, 2013

Safety Features when Buying a Car

While Canada may be the maple syrup capital of the world and hockey will forever be known as the country's national pastime, there's at least one other fact of life about Canadians: They like their cars. In fact, some automotive experts say that 2013 could smash record books for how many new vehicles will be sold this year. But you only have to look at the most recent sales numbers for compelling evidence:

  • Japanese automaker Subaru reported its best August on record after logging a near 25 percent increase in sales over last year.

  • Mazda Canada recorded a third all-time high sales month in August after moving nearly 7,100 automobiles.

  • Toyota Canada, for a seventh consecutive month, recorded a higher year-over-year sales total in August, thanks to heightened interest in its Scion and Lexus nameplates.

  • Infiniti's best-ever August sent year-to-date sales 10 percent higher than where they were through the first eight months of 2012.

  • Luxury brand Mercedes Benz had a record-breaking last full month of summer, selling more than 3,000 models to bring the year's total to over 23,700.

  • Nissan in August saw more than 8,000 vehicle sold, the sixth straight time Japan's second-largest automaker exceeded this threshold.

For the year overall, automakers have sold more than 1.2 million vehicles, more than 600,000 units ahead of how many were moved at this time last year, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.

As important a decision buying a new car may be, perhaps the most crucial of them all is making sure that it's safe. Not only does a well-built and manufactured vehicle keep occupants protected in the event of a crash, but it can also yield substantial Alberta car insurance savings.

You may not know what to look for when shopping for a safe car. Fortunately, the U.S.-based Insurance Information Institute recently released a helpful guide that can serve as a resource:

Factors to consider

  • Crashworthiness - There should be a sticker on the car that lists some of the features that talk about how it holds up in a crash. These are important because they can shield passengers and the driver from serious injury or death. The III has a tool you can use to gauge the safety of a car.

  • Vehicle design and composition - An indication that a car has a solid structure is its occupant compartment, also known as the safety cage. The rear and front of the vehicle should be designed so that they don't bend into the safety cage if pressured or crushed, thereby shielding riders from injury.

  • Size and weight - As a general rule, the larger and more boxy a vehicle is, the more likely it is to hold up under heavy duress. This is an important factor to weigh if you're thinking about purchasing a lighter vehicle that's more fuel efficient.

  • Restraints - There should be plenty of safety restraints installed in the vehicle, such as side, rear and forward-facing airbags. Lap and shoulder belts should also be in place as well. The combination of airbags and safety belts are what prevent injury, but in some cases, deploying airbags can cause harm. III recommended choosing a car that allows you to reach the floor pedals without being too close to the steering wheel.

Other safety components to consider when buying a new car are its anti-lock brakes, whether it has daytime running lights and if the vehicle is described as "high performance." These types of vehicles have been linked with above average fatality rates, due to motorists driving at excessive speeds, according to the III.