Safety features to look out for when buying a car

Posted by: Cal on 28/04/2014

Category: General

In order to keep our vehicles safe on the roads, there are a few tweaks, checks and jobs we need to tick off every once in a while. From making sure our brake lights and wing mirrors are in good nick to ensuring our car tyres are kept at the correct tyre pressure and have enough tread depth to be legal on the road, you need to pay a little bit of attention to ensure your car is up to standard.

Safety is crucial when it comes to driving, so it may pay to go that little bit extra when you look at buying a new car and pay attention to its extras and features.

Here's a list of features to look out for when purchasing a safe new vehicle:

ANCAP safety rating

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) assesses new vehicles according to how a car model performs in a series of independent crash tests, and whether or not it has certain safety features. Cars are awarded a number of stars from one to five. ANCAP recommends accepting nothing less than five stars when it comes time to choose a new car model, as these have been tested as the safest possible cars available on the market - however, four stars is still a commendable result.

Anti-lock braking systems (ABS)

These smart systems are there should your car tyres need a little extra help when it comes to sudden braking and loss of control on the road. ABS works to prevent the wheels locking up when braking pressure - particularly sudden braking - is applied, which means the driver will be able to steer and control the car. It may also help to prevent skidding and loss of traction, according to ANCAP. This is particularly helpful in wet weather or roads with loose, slippery surfacing such as gravel. To further enhance your safety when braking, it is advisable tyres have well above the legal minimum of tread depth (1.6mm), and are kept at the recommended tyre pressure.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

This safety feature works in conjunction with ABS to increase control and stability of the car. It does so by continually monitoring the direction of the car compared to where the driver is actually steering. ANCAP states that should the vehicle begin to travel in an alternate direction, the system will alter how much engine power is being delivered and individually control brake pressure applied to each wheel. This can help to realign the car, and can also help with control when taking corners and driving on slippery surfaces. Again, maintaining your car tyre health is an additional way to ensure your car is as safe as possible on surfaces such as these, and will stand you in better stead should you begin to lose control of the vehicle.

Airbags

If you do become involved in a crash, airbags will act to minimise and protect you and your passengers from potential injuries. These come in many forms, including frontal, side airbags, knee airbags and curtain airbags, and will inflate upon serious impact. This acts as a 'cushion', and will protect your body from serious impact.

Structural Integrity

The strength and 'soundness' of a vehicle is another of the aspects used to judge a vehicle's safety by ANCAP. When a car is structurally sound, much of the energy created by a crash can be absorbed, and internal attachments such as the steering wheel, pedal and floor columns are unlikely to move and injure passengers and drivers.

A car with these safety features (and in turn, a high star rating from ANCAP) is likely to keep you safer than a car without. However, you'll also need to remember to continue with your regular safety upkeep - so change your tyres regularly and check your wheel alignment, too!

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