There's a lot of potential for finding a safe car, whether you buy used or new; however, each option requires you to take certain safety steps to ensure that you're getting a good car.
Step 1: Be Aware of the Pitfalls
There are some issues to be aware of whether you're buying new or used. Newer cars can be a great way to go if you're looking for safety, since they will employ brand-new safety features and crash-avoidance technologies. However, since they have been on the market for a shorter time, you have less safety data to draw on. It's important to thoroughly check the data available to look for trends, and you can also compare the model to similar models to see how they did on safety.
If you choose to buy used, you have a great pool of data to draw on to see if the car is a good bet for safety. And, with many great used-car financing options, you can also stretch your dollar further to get a vehicle with more features and reliability. You can talk to companies like College View Auto Sales for more information about used-car financing. However, there is greater variability among individual cars based on how the previous owners treated the cars. You'll want to do a good job of inspecting particular vehicles and getting a mechanic's help to make sure there are no gaping flaws in the car's upkeep.
Step 2: Research Models
It can help to have a general sense of what makes and models you're looking for before you even hit the dealer's lot. This way, you won't be drawn in by other factors, such as appearance or novelty features. When you're looking for cars, research the brands that consistently make top lists for reliability and safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is a good resource to consult for this. They can give you data on insurance claims for vehicles and potentially point you towards crash ratings for each vehicle you wish to research.
Step 3: Look for Specific Features
Certain features indicate a high level of safety. For instance, crash-avoidance technologies like rear-view cameras and lane-monitoring systems add a lot of awareness for drivers. A strong bumper that does well in low-impact crash tests is always a good sign as well. Check the number of airbags; you may get insurance discounts for cars that have a minimum number of airbags or for cars with side airbags. For older vehicles, you may need to add these features on yourself, but it can be worth it to get the affordability of a used car with the safety features of a newer one.