Buying a used car can be a complicated process for anyone. However, it can be especially tedious for parents of young children who may be seeking extra features and an economical vehicle. If you are the parent of an infant, or if you have a child on the way, there are some extra things you should take into consideration when picking out a used vehicle. Below are some of the issues you should be aware of.
Thoroughly Research the Safety of Your Desired Vehicle
Although safety should be a priority for all drivers, it is especially important when you are a parent of a young driver. Luckily, understanding the safety ratings of various vehicles is easier than ever. You can simply go to a website such as www.safercar.gov to find out how your desired make and model performed in a variety of vehicle tests, including how the vehicle protects passengers during front crashes, side crashes, and rollovers. If you have children, it is especially important that you choose a vehicle with a high rating for side-impact crashes, as these will be the type of crashes during which your children will be most vulnerable.
While you are checking vehicles, it is important to run the specific vehicle you want to purchase through a VIN check to make sure it has not been in a serious accident before you purchase it, as a serious accident can compromise the frame of the vehicle.
Ensure the Car Has a LATCH System
LATCH is mandatory in all vehicles made after 2003, so it is a good idea to look for vehicles made after that year. However, some vehicle manufacturers began installing LATCH systems as early as 1999, so you may be able to find a vehicle with LATCH from that time period. LATCH helps you install car seats safely and efficiently to ensure the safety of your children.
Have the Car Retrofitted With a Top Tether If There Is No LATCH System
If your car does not have a full LATCH system, it can often still be retrofitted with a top tether to help stabilize forward-facing car seats. Some manufacturers, such as Ford, offer free or low-cost retrofitting of top tethers in older vehicles. If your vehicle does not have a full LATCH system, talk with a dealership about installing a top tether anchor. If doing so is not possible, you may want to skip that vehicle.
Decide If You Will Need Center LATCH Access
The safest spot for car seats is in the rear center position. However, few cars offer center LATCH positioning. Some Ford vans, pickups, and SUVs offer center LATCH positions in vehicles made from 2003 onward. Smaller vehicles, such as sedans or hatchbacks, may allow you to borrow the anchors from the side positions to install a seat in the center. However, it is important to consult the vehicle manual before doing this.
Decide Whether You Will Be Using a Travel System
Travel systems are becoming a popular way for parents to transport their children. However, these systems can take up a lot of trunk space, especially if you travel with multiple seats for the travel system. Parents who opt for travel systems will need much larger trunks than parents who use simple umbrella strollers or opt to baby wear. It is important to decide what kind of cargo space you will need to store your baby gear before you begin looking for a used vehicle.
If you have a child or are expecting one soon, it is important that you choose your vehicle with your child in mind. Above are just some of the things you should consider when purchasing a used vehicle as a parent. Look at a variety of dealers such as Welsh Motors so you can get an idea of what kinds of cars are available to you.