We love our older vehicles and as a shop we take pride in helping our customers get 200,000+ miles out of them while making sure they are still great cars to drive and not just junkers they are trying to squeeze the last mile out of. In most cases the best financial decision is to fix a broken vehicle rather than get into a new one but that’s not always true. A new driver or a new baby can also be a good reason to add a vehicle or replace one that just doesn’t meet your families needs anymore, but one factor that often seems to get overlooked is safety. Auto manufacturers have made huge strides over the last 20 years in overall vehicle safety and depending on what you drive that could be as good a reason as any to check out a newer vehicle.
If you have been paying attention the last five years or so you have probably seen some of the really advanced new technology like, night vision, lane departure, assisted braking, and active cruise control. These are considered “active” safety systems and are designed to help you avoid a collision. All of these are great but there is also a lot going on that you can’t see. “Passive” safety systems are designed to save lives after the impact has already occured. Improved airbags and deployment strategies are helping to reduce the injuries caused by the airbags themselves and improve their effectiveness on deployment, sometimes that means knowing when not to deploy at all. Crumple zones, frame materials, and build techniques have all been improved to keep the passenger cabin intact and absorb the force of the impact so the passengers don’t have to. Active seatbelt tensioners will actually tighten the belt and secure the passengers in their seat and along with door anchors and improved door latch designs we can greatly reduce the chances of an occupant being ejected during an accident. The improved outcomes during crash testing over the last 20 or so years are stunning and should definitely be a factor when deciding on your next vehicle or the fate of your current one.
Car seats and car seat installation are another topic that we would love to see addressed more. A study published by the Journal of Pediatrics found that in the U.S. 95% of infant seats are installed with at least one major error, 95%!!!!!
Some of the most common errors
- The recline angle of the car seat is not correct.
- The car seat’s harness is too loose.
- Lower anchors are attached too loosely or are used improperly, such as in the middle seat of the vehicle.
- The baby is not positioned correctly in the car seat, whether it’s an infant car seat, convertible car seat, or all-in-one car seat.
- The seat belt retractor is not locked in car seats that use seat belts.
- The wrong seat belt path is used or not used at all.
Installing a car seat correctly is quite a bit more complicated than most of us think and if you’re not sure your best bet is to check with the pros. Call you local police and fire departments and ask if they offer seat installation help. Most of the time they will have a certified installer on their crew and are happy to show you how to do it right. If you don’t have access to that service make sure to thoroughly read the instructions that came with your seat and don’t be shy about contacting the manufacturer if you need help. They are just as concerned with safety as you are and want their products to perform as advertised.
When it’s time to add a car for that new driver or you are wondering how well a car seat will fit in the backseat of your coupe, make sure you keep safety in mind. There’s nothing wrong with driving older cars and for a lot of us there is a certain amount of pride in getting over that 200k or even 300k mark. Just remember the difference in safety equipment between a 10 year old vehicle and a 20 year old vehicle can be astounding, and when you need it most, it’s priceless.