Penny-wise and pound-foolish? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. So many of us think first about saving money and last about whether or not what we’re buying (or not buying) is a good deal. That goes for something as small as a bottle of laundry detergent or as big as a new car.

If your laundry comes clean with a bargain detergent, go for it. However, when it comes to buying that new or used car, give your choice a second thought if you’re thinking of cutting corners by eliminating safety features.

As long as your next vehicle is brand new or is a used car built since ’98, air bags are a mandatory part of the safety package and there’s little doubt that air bags help save lives and prevent serious injury.

Stability Control (Mandatory)

Since then, more safety features are available as options but stability control is the one feature required in every new car built since the 2012 model year. Using brakes as well as engine power, stability control helps brings a skidding vehicle back under control.

Side Airbags

Federal regulations have ramped up side crash protection rules and although not mandatory, most new cars now come equipped with side airbags and/or inflatable side curtains. These help protect both the driver and passengers during a head crash.

Back-Up Camera

Having eyes in the back of your head is almost a reality if your new car has a back-up camera. Driving in reverse has never been easier; being able to avoid that stone wall or fire hydrant previously hidden in your blind spot will help you save costly repair dollars and insurance premiums.

More importantly, you may save the life of a human or pet that you wouldn’t have seen without a back-up camera.

Forward Collision Warning Systems

This optional safety feature can help even the best driver avoid a collision by warning the driver of an impending crash or even applying the brakes. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety this feature has significantly reduced the number of crashes.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Not necessary but nice is a tire pressure monitoring system. If you’ve experienced the unpleasant surprise of a flat tire – you’ll appreciate notification when a tire is low and needs attention.

Some of the newer technologies are highly advanced and very nice to have. If your budget supports them, why not buy a vehicle that has these extra safety features?

Although the features listed below are not required in any vehicle, each option is designed to alert you to hazards of the road, helping you avoid accident, injury, and perhaps even save a life. Some or all may be required in new cars of the future but for now they are “very nice to have” extras.

  • Adaptive Headlights rotate and follow the direction of your turning vehicle to give you a brighter and hopefully much safer view.
  • Lane-Departure Warning systems let you know when you’re drifting into another lane before it’s too late.
  • Blind-Spot Detection is located on your side mirrors. This is another optional but valuable safety feature that helps you safely change lanes.
  • Advanced Airbags have sensors that adjust force and velocity of airbag deployment depending upon who is in the front seat.
  • Knee Airbags are self-explanatory and protect the knees from dashboard and other injuries. They are a nice-to-have feature but not a required safety feature.

When it’s time to buy your next vehicle, give some thought about which safety features are important to you and to all others who will ride in your car.