Tips For Finding The Best Car Deal

Doing Your Homework Online

Buy A New Car Online

Many people think that preparing to buy a new car means running all over your area, getting prices and quotes and comparing different models at multiple dealerships and the loan application process is stressful. In fact, Valley Auto Loans recommends simply doing your prep work in the comfort of your home. It is true that years ago before the widespread use of computers and the internet, you’d have to drag yourself to dealerships to do all the footwork. Today, we are lucky enough have the luxury of these new technologies at our fingertips

How to buy a car from a dealer starts at home

Start Right Where You Are Now

You can start by searching the car make and model you want and check the dealers all over the country to find the best deals. We offer a vehicle search tab at the top of the page that will help you search for new and used vehicles in your area. You can also check options you want to see how they affect the price. You can look for vehicle safety ratings so you can pick the highest safety rating possible. We have more information on vehicle safety ratings at the bottom of this page.

Get Your Car Loan Approved First

Don’t forget that finding the right car loan is as important as finding the right car, and the two should always be looked at as separate items. Valley Auto Loans sends your application before several lenders for consideration before a credit check is made on your history, so you get the best choice with only one credit check.

You should also know how to finance a car without just taking the dealers word for it. He is a car dealer, not a loan specialist. Remember car dealers make their money off of high-priced sales, so shop for financing on-line beforehand. Bear in mind that car dealers are not in business to loan money. They want to sell cars and providing a loan is a way to make that sale more profitable for them. They are professionals at manipulating the loan to oversell the vehicle and trap you in high payments for their profit.

You Can Get Pre Approved For A Private Sale As Well

Valley Auto Loans also offers pre-approval for people wanting to buy a used car from a private individual. Just fill out the application for refinancing and add the vehicle information you are interested in. That is all there is to it.

A Good Deal On A New Car Means Avoiding Dealer Scams

Don’t be misled by what appears to be a good price because that is what the dealer wants you to think. Here is a prime example of a well-rehearsed car dealer sales ploy. First, the salesperson offers you a reasonable price for the car you are interested in. You except the price and the paperwork goes to the finance manager. He adds in some hidden fees that have fancy terms that you are not familiar with.

Then when you negotiate your trade-in, the dealer undervalues your car and tells you he will not be able to make a profit from selling your trade. Then he offers you a higher APR to qualify for the loan. If you are not wise to their trick, you will accept the offer, thinking it is the best deal you can get. Many people with bad credit started out with a bad car loan that was more than they should have had to pay.

This is a scary scenario for shoppers who may be stretching their budgets. Fortunately, we can help you avoid being a car dealer victim of over pricing scenarios by teaching you the tricks of the dealer’s trade.

New Car Buyers Resources

Valley auto Loans Is best known for helping people find good financing deals on auto loans when they have credit problems. But did you know we have a resource page that has many good car shopping tools and helpful “How-To” information on a variety of automotive subjects?

Things like, jumping a dead battery, plugging a tire, getting better gas mileage or even starting a simple budget that will help your car payments. So before you head out to buy that new car, check these and our other resources available.

A Look at Credit Disability Insurance

It is not uncommon for dealership finance managers to offer customers credit disability insurance when finalizing their car loan paperwork. Before making a final decision, consumers need to have an understanding of credit disability insurance and how it works.

Credit Disability InsuranceMany consumers have heard about this type of insurance, but they do not know what it is or how it works. In most cases, a finance manager refers to this type of insurance as credit disability.

To make it easy to understand, credit disability is a type of health insurance, and it can be attached to an auto loan. Consumers may have also heard of credit life insurance. Unfortunately, this form of insurance is only beneficial to the lender. A borrower should never confuse credit life with credit disability insurance.

Credit disability insurance can benefit both the buyer and the lender because it will make sure the lender gets paid if the borrower cannot make their payment. When a borrower becomes disabled or sick, the insurance policy is used to make certain the lender is paid the money they are owed.

The benefits for credit disability are activated when the borrower becomes very ill or injured. However, there is a waiting period for the benefits, so they do not start immediately. In most cases, it can take 14 up to 90 days from the date that the borrower suffered the disability.

The exact details depend on the policy fine print. After the waiting period has passed, the company that issued the credit disability policy will start sending the benefits.

Put simply; the insurance company will start paying the monthly loan payments for the disabled borrower. Normally, the borrower does not have to suffer a permanent disability for the benefits to be paid.

Credit disability insurance is a product added to your auto loan, and it is commonly sold by a finance manager at the dealership when you purchase a car. It is usually mentioned very briefly, so most people have no idea what the insurance does or why they might need it.

Credit Disability Fees

Consumers need to understand that there is a monthly fee for credit disability, and it’s determined by the initial balance of the loan. If a borrower decides that he or she wants credit disability, the policy must be added before any of the loan documents are signed. The cost of the insurance policy can be added to the total amount financed. The additional cost of the credit disability insurance will increase the monthly car payments, so consumers should be aware of this increase.

Do I Need Disability Insurance?

There might be several reasons why you should avoid purchasing this insurance. For starters, you might already have a life insurance policy, which will cover your car payments if you pass away.

When deciding if you want credit disability insurance, you need to consider how healthy, you are. You also need to take time and make sure to read all of the fine print and details. It is not uncommon for credit disability policies to be overpriced, so be careful you do not buy an overpriced policy.

Disadvantages of Disability Insurance

Like most types of insurance, credit disability insurance also comes with some disadvantages. One of the downsides is the cost. The total cost of credit disability can be higher than a regular disability insurance policy, so consumers need to be aware of this fact and check all of their options. Since credit disability insurance is wrapped up with the car loan, the borrower is paying interest on the cost of the insurance. A separate disability insurance policy does not come with interest charges.

Your New Car Buyers Guide 20 Point Review

We have put together a review sheet made up of twenty points taken from our New Car Buyers Guide and our Avoid Car Dealer Scams blogs that will help you be better prepared to go car shopping. We hope you will find this tool useful for assisting you with your new car price negotiations. For more information about car shopping and avoiding dealer ripoffs, see our blogs, “New Car Buyers Guide” and “Avoid Car Dealer Scams.”

  • Start with your budget, Do you know what you can afford for payments? Have you used a payment calculator to see what you can afford?
  • Is your trade in clean and do you know what it is worth?
  • If you have a current loan? What is your payoff plan?
  • Have you checked the internet to see what the other dealers are selling that model for?
  • Do you know your credit score and where you stand for getting financing?
  • Have you gotten your financing online or from your bank first, and do you have a check or approved loan amount before you head to the dealer?
  • Have you negotiated your trade in car value first? The dealer will resist this because he has a lot to lose doing it in this order.
  • Doses the car have any rebates or purchase incentives? Apply these after the fair asking price is determined.
  • Have you compared this price to other dealers in the area?
  • Do not fall victim to dealer tricks that lure you into no money down, no credit check loans or buy here pay here dealer financing.
  • Have you found the true dealer cost and negotiated the fair offer price up from there? Don’t negotiate down from the MSRP.
  • Can you answer “Yes” to all these questions?Will all your passengers fit comfortably?
    Does this car have good fuel economy?
    Does this car meet my everyday driving conditions?
    Will it hold all the cargo I need to carry?
    Does it have the optional features I want that are most important?
  • Don’t forget, questions only during the test drive, don’t tell the salesman what you like about the car and don’t answer any questions about what you can afford monthly
  • Avoid the temptation to buy at the first good deal without checking the other dealers.
  • Bring a copy of your drives license to give them for the test drive. Don’t let them hold yours during the test drive.
  • Do not give a deposit to hold the car or leave a down payment until you are ready to finalize the paper work.
  • Remember the dealer fees you learned about and don’t pay for anything you don’t understand or feel you shouldn’t have to pay.
  • Use the new car offer formula to get your offer price.
    1) Find the true dealer invoice $
    2) Subtract the hold back $ and factory to dealer incentives $.
    3) Add back 5% for dealer profit.
    4) Add the destination fee $
    5) After you have your price then subtract the customer rebates $
    6) Then you have your correct price to offer the dealer.
  • Remember to check every line as the paper work is done and do not accept added charges for options you don’t need.
  • After the sale fill out your own dealer survey do not let the dealer use it as negotiating tools.

Do I need an extended warranty?

If there is anything that consumers should avoid, it is purchasing an extended warranty while knowing little about it.

Many new cars already come with a warranty from the manufacturer, so consumers would like to know when they should consider purchasing an extended warranty. It is crucial that consumers understand that the manufacturer’s warranty does not cover all your cars parts, repairs and won’t cover normal wear and routine maintenance.

The manufacturer warranty usually doesn’t cover brakes, belts, transmission service, navigation systems, tires, shocks and struts, upholstery, oil and filter changes. Car-buyers should also know that a manufacturer warranty doesn’t cover the wear and tear caused by driving the vehicle. It does cover some safety issue parts and some emissions components for a longer period of time as well as workmanship and component defects.

What Is Included?

Consumers should be aware of what is included in an extended warranty. Warranties vary from contract to contract so make sure you understand what is covered and don’t assume it will cover all your problems. In most cases, an extended warranty includes towing, roadside assistance, 24-hour technical help, regular maintenance and comprehensive coverage. But before you purchase a warranty, get a copy, take it home and read through it. Write down the things that are covered and not covered so you can look at your list and make a decision instead of trying to remember the parts hidden in all the legal talk. Don’t make a decision at the last minute while the finance manager is doing your paperwork or you will be disappointed to later find out you paid a lot of money for no coverage at all.

Warranty Purchasing Tips

Your unique situation will decide if you actually need an extended warranty or not. If you’re trying to get approved for an auto loan and have bad credit, you should never try to stretch your budget and make it conform to the car you really want. There are some useful tips that consumers can use when trying to buy a used car extended warranty. For starters, it’s useful to find out how much coverage you currently have. It’s common for factory warranties to transfer over when purchasing a used car that is less than three to five years old.

If you are purchasing a certified pre-owned vehicle from the manufacturer, then it should come with a used car extended warranty, but the length of the warranty might not be as long as you would like.

When deciding whether to buy an extended warranty for a used vehicle, you should ask yourself if you have the money to deal with unexpected repairs or expenses. Consumers who almost never have a lot of cash on hand should look into an extended warranty because they won’t be able to cover unexpected repairs.

EMI Calculators

The acronym EMI stands for Estimated Monthly Installments. An auto loan EMI calculator can help you budget for your next car by estimating how much your monthly payments will be if you take out a loan for a car.

Auto Loan EMI CalculatorPlanning to buy a new car? If you are thinking about getting a loan to pay for your vehicle, you are going to want to know what you can afford and how much you will be charged for your monthly loan payments, as well as what your interest rate will be. For this, most people will need to use a loan calculator. These convenient online auto loan calculators will be incredibly helpful when you are considering such a large and important purchase.

Using the EMI Tool

To use the EMI tool, just plug the total amount of the loan, the interest rate and the term of the loan into the input boxes in the tool. Many EMI tools also include a slider bar for each amount so that you can adjust the tool quickly to see other amounts. The tool will display your estimated monthly payments based on the information you input, however, there are some things you should be aware of so let us help clarify what you will be working with.

Interest Rate

Your interest rate is what you can expect to owe your lender in combination with the cost of the loan itself. Essentially, the interest rate acts as a service fee to the lender or bank for allowing you to borrow money from them. The lower your interest rate is, the less you will end up paying once it’s all said and done.

Purchase Price

The purchase price is the price you agreed to purchase the vehicle for. With the right knowledge and a bit of charisma, you may be able to haggle the price down a fair amount.

Terms

A term is the number of months or years your loan is for. In most cases, it’s easier to work in months rather than years since terms don’t always come out to a precise number. Beware of term lengths. Shorter terms may seem better, but they mean larger payments over a shorter span of time. This can make it difficult to budget for your monthly loan payments and may even land you in some financial trouble.

Down Payment

Your down payment is how much money you’ll have to pay up front toward the vehicle’s total cost. Keep in mind that there may be a minimum down payment for any car you want to finance. You might be tempted to pay the bare minimum down payment, but it’s not always the best choice. If you can afford to make a larger down payment, it’s a good idea to do it. This means you won’t have to take out as big a loan or pay on the vehicle as long. Furthermore, it will also significantly decrease how much of your payments goes toward interest.

These are just the basics of what an auto loan calculator can do for you. There are some out there that will also help you account for title fees, sales taxes and licensing costs. The calculator you need will depend on whether you are opting to get a loan to cover the other charges, or whether you will be paying for them as part of the car’s total cost.

After you have obtained all of the necessary information and put it into an auto loan calculator, you will be able to make use of the data it shows you. Some calculators may only show you what you can expect to pay each month. Many others will also give you the amortization schedules for the duration of the loan, show you how much of the total you will eliminate with every payment and even show you how much of your payments are interest.

You can also change values in the tool to decide how to lower your monthly payments to an amount you can afford. For example, change the interest rate value in the EMI tool to find out how much your payments will be with a lower rate. Decrease the total amount financed to discover how your payments change if you apply a larger down-payment. Extend the term of the loan to find out how much your payments will be when the loan is spread out over more time.

EMI Tool Estimate

The EMI tool can only give you an estimate of the amount of your monthly payment. Even if the EMI tool estimates your payments close to the true amount, you still must factor additional expenses into your budget if this is your first car. When you finance a car, the lender will require that you carry full coverage auto insurance on the vehicle. This protects the lender and you in the case of an unfortunate occurrence while you are driving the car. Full coverage insurance can cost a bit more than liability. To get a clearer picture of how purchasing the car will affect your budget, obtain an auto insurance quote for the vehicle you want to finance.

Use the EMI tool to estimate your monthly payments. A large down-payment means that you will need to finance a lower amount than the full price of the car. Apply the largest down-payment you can afford to reduce your monthly payments. If you have a trade-in, estimate the value of your trade-in as your down-payment. Make sure that you can afford the monthly payments generated by the tool.

Auto Loan Amortization Charts

An amortization chart is, basically, a picture of your loan. Amortize means to draw down, or to kill in Latin. It presents in graphic clarity your payments towards interest and principle and shows how the amount owed decreases as payments are made. The chart has a list of all the payments you need to make, the amount of each payment that goes towards the interest or principal and the dates they are due.

Look At The Amortization Table

New Car Auto Loan CalculatorAmortization charts can be calculated mentally, as was done before calculators, or created on a spreadsheet on the computer. There are online amortization calculators that will give you all the information you need about your loan payments. You just enter your details of the terms of your loan, and it will calculate your payments.

It is important for consumers considering taking out a loan to understand amortization. A loan includes principal and interest, and when the principal is paid down, the interest payment will get smaller. For long-term loans such as home mortgages that have terms of 20 to 30 years, the borrower often only makes payments on the interest for the first two years and no payments on the principal. There is a way around this that could save you a substantial amount of money.

Pay Down The Principal

Even if your lender requires only interest payments for the first few years, you can still make extra payments that are specifically designated to pay down the principal. You should check with your lender before signing for the loan to learn if they penalize you for making extra payments towards the principal or for making prepayments to repay the loan faster. If they charge a fee for doing this, you might want to consider another lender. Remember, their payment for lending you the money is the interest, and if that gets reduced because you made extra payments, they get less. There are many lenders who don’t charge a fee and urge you to pay off your loan as soon as you can.

How Does It Apply To Auto Loans?

Now that you understand amortization, you may be wondering how it applies to an auto loan. It is a bit different. For auto loans, there is not usually the time when you only pay the interest. Auto loan amortization charts clearly show that the interest and principle payments are the same from the first payment to the last.

Lenders have different reasons for granting bad credit car loans. That is why you need Valley Auto Loans to search their vast database and find a lender who will check your request. In fact, it is a better option to secure a car loan if you have bad credit before you go shopping. The reason is you may go to all the trouble of finding the car you want, only to learn that the dealer will not give you a loan. If you go to a dealer whom you already know will give you a loan, you will save yourself time, money and frustration. That is where we can help.

Now that you are loan-savvy, you can search for a car loan and know exactly what you are getting into. You need not depend on lenders, financial institutions or dealers to tell you how much you need to pay and for how long. We can help you find the right lender for your financial situation.

New Car Window Stickers

New Car Window StickerAttached to the window of every new car in the country is a complex, detailed sticker known as the Monroney Label. This label was created in as part of the Automobile Information Disclosure Act of 1958. The name comes from the sponsor of the bill, Senator Almer Stillwell Monroney.

This sticker includes valuable information for the consumer. Moreover, it cannot be altered or removed by the dealer; only the customer can remove the sticker without penalty. The penalty for a dealer to sell a car without a Monroney sticker is as much as $10,000 per sticker removed and as much as a year in jail for each missing sticker. This only applies to conventional consumer vehicles; large vehicles, weighing over 8,500 pounds are exempt from the requirement.

In 2011, a new rule was placed to update the Monroney sticker on modern vehicles. This was put in force by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. This update includes various fuel efficiency estimates for alternative fuel vehicles. This also includes those powered by natural gas, hydrogen, electricity or various hybrid combinations.

The Old Label

The original version of the label contained valuable information. Here’s an indicator of what it included and how to read it.

  • The VIN, or Vehicle Identification Number, should be present. This ensures that the vehicle on the sticker is the same as the vehicle you’re looking at. If the VIN is inaccurate, something underhanded may have occurred in the past.
  • The standard equipment on the vehicle. This will include a price estimate for the most basic iteration of the vehicle, including the standard engine, safety features and other trim.
  • The MSRP, or Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price. This is the base price of the vehicle before dealer fees and other assorted charges are added. This is valuable information for negotiations.
  • A list of any optional equipment on this particular model. Any advanced convenience or safety features are listed.
  • Destination charges. This is the cost of delivery from the factory to the dealership. Dealers pay for this cost when they buy the vehicle to sell; they typically pass the cost on to the buyer to recoup the loss. This is another valid point of negotiation.
  • Total price. This is the MSRP plus any additional charges, minus any discounts. This will be the basic price from which you begin negotiating.
  • Fuel efficiency and fuel cost estimates. For a new vehicle, it’s relatively easy to measure the fuel efficiency of a vehicle and calculate an average annual fuel cost, given current fuel prices. These numbers are not guarantees.
  • Government safety ratings. This gives you an idea of how safe a given vehicle will be in a collision. Safer vehicles tend to offer discounts on insurance costs. Additionally, the safety can be invaluable in a serious accident.
  • Parts content information. This is a list of how many of the parts used to build the vehicle come from domestic versus foreign manufacture.
  • Addendum stickers. This price adjustment sticker is typically present on vehicles with adjusted prices, as an easy comparison between the original price and the current dealer price.

The New Label

The redesigned Monroney label is a project designed to provide valuable comparative information for consumers looking into alternative fuel vehicles. All of the information on the old label is still present, so all of the above information is valid. This new version of the label began to appear in 2011 and was mandatory in 2013. Now, it is the default version of the label; any old versions of the label should be changed. The new label includes:

  • Estimates of how much fuel — regardless of fuel source — the vehicle will consume to drive 100 miles. This is a more valid and accurate estimate of fuel consumption than the previously common miles per gallon, which was often inaccurate or misleading.
  • An emissions note indicating the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from the tailpipe the vehicle produces. This does not incorporate upstream emissions from electric generation.
  • The smog emissions, measures of the nitrogen oxide and other particulate matter emitted by the vehicle in standard operation.
  • New comparisons for conventional vehicles versus new fuel vehicles. Essentially a comparison between the fuel used by the vehicle you’re examining and the same vehicle powered by a gasoline motor.
  • Fuel savings estimates for this particular vehicle over the average new vehicle. An easy to read indicator of savings.
  • For electric-only and electric-hybrid vehicles. An estimate of the mile ranges from full charge in all-electric mode, on a single charge. Additionally, an estimate of the average charging time.
  • Modern iterations of the Monroney label include a smartphone-scannable QR code that will give out all of the information on the label. This includes more accurate comparison information.

All of this sounds like a very complicated label, and looking at it all for the first time can be overwhelming. It is easy, particularly if you have just been approved for a new auto loan, to dive into picking a car without doing the proper research. The Monroney sticker allows you to access all of the information you need to make an informed decision about which vehicle you should purchase.

What You Should Know

When examining a new car label, you can ask yourself a few questions to decide whether the vehicle is right for you. These questions will help narrow down your choice of automobiles.

  • If the vehicle uses an alternative fuel source, such as hydrogen fuel cells, compressed natural gas or biodiesel, is that fuel readily available in your area?
  • How is the fuel efficiency compared to the average new car? You should look for a vehicle with a low-cost to drive per hundred miles.
  • Has the dealer added on any fees from the MSRP and additional options costs? These are points you can use to negotiate a better price on your vehicle.
  • Is the vehicle safe? An NHTSA five-star safety rating is the best possible score. You should look for a vehicle with as high a safety rating as possible. The insurance discounts are worth it alone.
  • Are the manufacturer warranties and other incentives still applicable? Occasionally, a dealer will offer more limited replacement incentives to attempt to lower the cost without notifying you of the decreased service as well.
  • What are the EPA greenhouse gas and smog ratings? Some states have strict limits on the emissions quality of a given vehicle. If you live in such a state, vehicles that skirt the edge may cause fines and other vehicle trouble if parts start to fail.

Once you understand the Monroney label, you are well on the way to purchasing an excellent new vehicle, one that will last for years and serve you well. Take care of your car and it will take care of you. Feel free to contact Valley Auto Loans for any help.

Safety Ratings

While there are no shortcuts to safety, there is an alternative to buying a safer car. The federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 1 does safety testing in similar ways. However, they do not always reach same conclusions. A big SUV and a tiny compact may seem to have the same safety ratings. How are these ratings done? What do they mean?

Testing Limitations

Despite their best efforts, neither NHTSA nor IIHS testing can’t keep up with the large selection of new models. When buying a brand new model, a consumer may have to look at last year’s ratings. A consumer should read the fine print because every trim level within a model’s line-up does not get tested. Rear collision scenarios are not included because, as the NHTSA has stated, these are less deadly, and the agency’s limited funds must be used to perform the most vital testing.

Class Considerations

Vehicles are rated by their class. A five-star compact car is probably not as safe as a five-star SUV. Likewise, a Top Safety Pick sedan is probably not as safe as a Top Safety Pick SUV. As the IIHS points out, if all safety systems are equal, a bigger, heavier vehicle is still safer than a smaller, lighter one. On the other hand, the NHTSA suggests that side ratings and rollover resistance are comparable even with weight and class differences.

Five Star System

The NHTSA uses a five-tier system to rate new cars. Frankly, you do not want a car that can’t muster a minimum of four stars. Five stars indicate that serious injury rates will top out at 10 percent. At four stars, the rate is 20 percent. After that, it jumps to 35 percent or higher. The feds put each car through many accident scenarios, crashing lots of new vehicles to prove the viability of the safety systems. Frontal crash and side crashes determine structural protections. Rollover resistance determines the electronic stability system’s viability. Crash worthiness is determined by the effectiveness of the seat belts, airbags, and vehicle structural enhancements.

Top Safety Pick

The IIHS ruins a lot of new vehicles, too, in its efforts to find viability. They rate cars as “Good, Acceptable/Marginal, or Poor.” A good rating only indicates a 46 percent survival rating, but “good” is enough for a Top Safety Pick. When comparing vehicles, you should look at its ratings in each category. The IIHS now offers a Top Safety Pick Plus designation which applies only to models with crash avoidance features. To get a Plus vehicle, the consumer has to pay extra, but the IIHS has studies showing that these systems do prevent accidents.

IIHS Testing

To determine IIHS ratings, new vehicles are put through side crashes, and two types of frontal crashes. They are rated for the roof and sliding door strength, which has been a common failure point with some vehicles. If a car or SUV rolls over, roof strength is critical to survival. Finally, they are rated for head restraints.

Head Restraints

Although they do not move, passive head restraints can be vital for all rows of the vehicle. An active head restraint moves up and forward, catching the occupant’s head during a collision. Good head restraints prevent serious neck injuries such as whiplash.

Seat Belts

Seat belts are still a vital safety system. Many vehicles offer height-adjustable seat belts which are more comfortable and safer, especially for shorter people and children. According to NHTSA studies, pre-tensioning, load-limiting systems help the seat belt respond effectively with minimal damage to the rider. One automaker has introduced inflatable seat belts for second-row passengers.

Air Bags

Modern cars generally have four front airbags and two overhead air curtains for a total of six. Some models now add a knee airbag for the driver. A few more add a knee airbag for the front seat passenger. A handful of automakers are even adding second-row side airbags for a total of ten. Price is not a consideration as you may find ten airbags in a low-to-medium priced car while finding only six or seven in a luxury vehicle. A truly modern airbag system is electronically controlled to permit several levels of inflation and to prevent unnecessary deployment.

Structural Integrity

As cars became lighter, saving significant money for their manufacturers and cutting price tags, the cabins became more vulnerable. Most manufacturers now offer many structural safeguards. Special features may include hood-buckling creases, multiple crumple zones, and a safety cage structure for channeling deadly force. Doors often hide high-strength steel beams to stop side crash incursions.

Advanced Electronic Systems

To get a Top Safety Pick Plus rating, the car must offer frontal collision systems. The latest advancements use cameras that analyze data in real-time. The camera system provides head-on collision warnings with lane-keeping. The advanced frontal collision system adds crash-mitigation braking. Sometimes this system also comes with Adaptive Cruise Control, which slows or speed as its camera detects the speed of traffic. The very latest is the Close Follow system which acts like cruise control in slower traffic situations. Early studies by the IIHS have determined that these systems are preventing accidents. You will not find these on every car, but if it is available on a model you prefer, it may well protect your property and save your life.

Blind Spot Elimination

Although not yet recognized by the IIHS formally, the agency has praised blind spot elimination efforts. A rear-facing radar system usually pairs blind spot detection while moving forward with rear cross traffic alert while in reverse. This usually shows up as an icon in the driver’s mirror. It may be active on both sides of the car. If offered, this system is usually an extra cost. A simple, yet useful device is the concave mirror that is now being added to the side mirrors by some automakers. When present, it does not add to the cost of the car.

Rear View Cameras

A rear view camera is a standard on many cars and an affordable option for most others. It potentially prevents damage to the car, reducing the chances of hitting other vehicles, obstacles, pets or people. A rear sensor system, sometimes paired with a front sensor, can reduce dangers even more. These systems are not included in the safety ratings, but both the IIHS and NHTSA recognize that these cameras reduce accidents.

After Crash Systems

Also not included in the ratings, after-crash systems are becoming more important. More and more manufacturers are offering a mobile service subscription. When in force, airbag deployment results in a signal to the mobile service, which then calls 911 for you. At least one manufacturer equips its cars with an after-crash system that turns on the hazard lights, unlocks the doors and rolls down the windows.

Sources and Citations:

  1. http://www.nhtsa.gov/