So, what are your ‘must-have’s’ for a new car? Perhaps you’ve got a defined picture of the type of new car you’d like – you might only have a basic car type in mind, or you might have gone to the enth degree and have your make, model, and colour all picked out. Or perhaps you’re still working through the basics and are wondering whether a new or used vehicle is for you.

Whatever the case, here’s three questions you really want to ask yourself when you’re looking at a new or newer car to suit your needs.

What Safety Features Does This Car Offer?

Now, I’m not just talking about the ANCAP safety rating here – we’ve got an article on that here, if you want to check it out – I’m talking about the features that help add to the safety of the car. You’re probably familiar with acronym-named features such as ‘ABS’ (Anti-lock braking system): because of advances in safety and technology, there’s a whole new generation of acronym-named safety features out there. Here are the most common, and why they’re worth counting as ‘must-haves’ for your new car.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

Stability control is most helpful for vehicles with a high centre of gravity, but it’s helpful for nearly any car, and here’s why: ESC helps correct the type of swerve a driver might naturally pull if something ran in front of the car, if the car lost traction on the road, or if the corner just rounded happened to be tighter than expected. WIthout ESC, you’d probably pull hard one way, and then need to pull hard the other way to correct it. This turns into the kind of fishtail that results in an accident or collision. ESC helps stop that from happening in the first place.

Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)

The most common type of car collision is the rear-end. AEB uses radar to establish a buffer zone around your vehicle, and will automatically start to apply the brakes if a foreign object, be that another vehicle, wildlife, or pedestrian, enters that buffer zone. This feature buys the extra millisecond that means the difference between a collision and a close shave, and even if impact occurs, can significantly decrease the amount of damage taken by both parties.

Lane Departure Warning (LDW)

Fatigue is no friend to travelling swiftly. An LDW system alerts the driver should they begin to drift from their lane. While it won’t prevent a driver from microsleeping, it can be the nudge to encourage resting when needed.

Where Are The Pillars In This Car?

When researching this article, I found a lot of recommendations for reversing cameras. They were originally built for high vehicles like SUVs to prevent drivers from striking children (and other things) while reversing. Is there a place of recommendation for reversing cameras? Absolutely.

Before you start looking for a reversing camera, though, you should check the placement of the pillars in your ideal car. This is the kind of thing you’re only going to get a feel for by sitting in said ideal car. There’s no substitute for a head check – a reversing camera and your mirrors are still going to have blind spots.

When you have a look at your ideal car in person, do a head check and make sure that you can easily see what’s going on outside the car. If you have to crane your head around to see past the non-glass parts of the vehicle, it will need to be taken into consideration.

How Well Does The Car Connect To Your Devices?

At present, the penalty for using a mobile phone while driving sits at $319 and 4 demerit points. It’s $425 if you’re in a school zone, and the offense is subject to double demerits during long weekends and holiday periods. Evidently, the RMS doesn’t want drivers to be using their phones while driving. (It is super dangerous, after all).

Fortunately, most modern vehicles house technology for connecting to your device (via Bluetooth) to allow phone calls, music, and GPS navigation to be accessed through the car, all of which is at present, above board. If you use your phone for calls, or prefer to reach people while you’re driving, then this will be something to take into consideration.

The Wrap-Up

  • Check the safety features that new cars are boasting when researching. Decide which ones will be the most important for your needs, and prioritise the cars with those features.
  • There’s no substitute for a head check. When you physically assess your options, head check the car from the inside and make sure you’re satisfied with the field of view you’ve got. The smaller your blind spots, the safer you’ll be when reversing or turning.
  • If you prefer to be always-reachable on the mobile, make sure that the car you’re looking at has some method of phone connectivity to allow for safe and legal phonecalls.