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2019-2020 Update: Safest Affordable Used & New Cars

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Safest Used Cars Deals for $10K or Less, & Best New Car Safety Picks Under $25K for Teen Drivers and Families

Many families put a high priority on safety for their kids.  Unfortunately, for various valid reasons, most are not able to go out and buy a brand new car with the latest safety features.  Perhaps others are buying a car for a teen or college student and want something safe, but are concerned they might wreck a new car.  Earlier this year, the IIHS evaluated hundreds of cars to produce an updated list of recommended models for teens.  A similar list was created by Consumer Reports.

NHTSA: Teen Driving

I have somewhat different criteria for my teen drivers, with the most emphasis on actual crash test results and crash avoidance safety features.  For example, while I also exclude the smallest sub-compact and “micro” vehicles, I have no issue with my teen driving a compact sedan, but only if it has very good crash test results.  Compact sedans are less expensive to buy and maintain, plus they are generally easier to maneuver and park, especially for an inexperienced driver.

Unfortunately, the IIHS excludes compact sedans from their list, even top performing models with many safety features and good all-around crash test scores, including their own small overlap test.  In fact, some models they have recommended in the past do marginally or poorly in this newer crash test.  Like Consumer Reports, many of their recommendations are well over $10,000 even with very high mileage.  Speaking of Consumer Reports, they omit many very safe choices if the vehicle didn’t do well in their proprietary reliability rankings.

For this list, the requirements are very objective and focus only on safety with a price threshold.

Safe Used Vehicle Requirements:

  1. 5-star NHTSA overall rating
  2. IIHS Top Safety Pick
  3. Around $10,000 or less to buy
  4. Good visibility and handling
  5. No sports cars, minicars, sub-compacts or any model under 2,700 lbs
  6. No “2-star” or “1-star” ratings in any individual NHTSA crash test or rollover rating
  7. No “Marginal” or “Poor” IIHS crash test results in ANY crash test, including the newer small overlap tests

Safest Used Vehicle Preferences:

  • IIHS Top Safety Pick+
  • No 3-star NHTSA ratings in any test
  • Midsize or larger, 3,200 lbs. or more
  • Stability Control and Side Curtain Airbags standard
  • 2011 or newer.  In 2011, the NHTSA began crash testing with its improved crash test system that doesn’t compare to models before 2011

Safe Vehicle Wish List:

Back Seat May Not Be The Safest Place for Your Child? Wait….What?

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You may be seeing news headlines about a new project to research the safety of rear seat occupants.  Unfortunately, some media outlets have misinterpreted the intent of the study and have some very misleading headlines.  “Study shows the back seat may not be the safest place for your child in a front-end collision,” says NBC News and some of its affiliates.  Though new studies sometimes do contradict old research, that is not the current intent of this new paper from the IIHS.

NBCnews.com

Now consider the headline of the IIHS press release, “Rear-seat occupant protection hasn’t kept pace with the front.”  In fact, that is exactly the purpose of this new project.  The IIHS is developing a new crash test to help promote improvements in safety for rear seat occupants.  This study was not designed and likely does not have enough statistical information to change our current recommendation to keep all children 12 and under in the back seat whenever possible.

According to Russ Rader, Senior Vice President of Communications at the IIHS:

While we looked at real-world cases involving occupants age 6 and older, the focus is on adult passengers because they appear to be the most vulnerable to seat belt-related injuries to the chest, especially the oldest occupants.   The long-standing recommendation to parents hasn’t changed: The back seat is still overall the safest place for properly restrained children to ride.

It is important to point out that in a study like this we seek out the cases where people were seriously injured in order to understand what engineering changes might have affected the outcome.  It is also important to look at the entire population that could be affected by any changes in order to make sure that solutions for older vulnerable occupants do not negatively impact children.

Photo courtesy of IIHS

Be a smart consumer of news and know that the media is trying to draw your attention. When it comes to the safety of your child, find all the facts before making any decisions.  Please keep your children age 12 and under properly restrained in the back seat if at all possible!  If you have no other option than to place a child in the front passenger seat, please feel free to contact us through our facebook page or talk any child passenger safety technician for safest practice recommendations!  If best practice advice ever changes in the future, we will be sure to inform you, as will the IIHS, NHTSA and other occupant safety agencies.

March Madness of Fashions Final Four

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It’s not too late to vote!  We’re down to our final four of fabulous fabrics!  Visit our facebook page now to vote and come back this weekend to vote in our championship game: https://www.facebook.com/carseatblog

Our first match featured two Cinderellas, #11 seed “Lanai” from Chicco vs. our #15 seed “Seascape” from Evenflo.  Both these fashions have won their first two games by big voting margins from our readers.

In our second match, our highest remaining seed, #4 Graco “Matrix” was up against reader-nominated #8 “Bohemian Blue” from Maxi-Cosi.  “Matrix” is one of the best selling neutral fashions against a very pretty Pria pattern that knocked off our #1 seed Britax “Cowmooflage” last round!

Update: The championship game pits “Lanai” vs. “Bohemian Blue”, both winning their final four matchups by nearly two-to-one voting margins!  Voting ends Monday afternoon, April 8th.

 

 

Honda to “Re-Recall” Vehicles for Airbag Issue

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American Honda Motor Company has announced plans to recall certain U.S. vehicles that had already been fixed under a previous recall due to faulty Takata airbags. This new recall will encompass approximately 1.1 million Honda and Accura vehicles in the United States that were fixed with airbag inflators now deemed to be faulty.

Although the replacement inflators were not recalled or considered faulty at the time, Honda is now aware that a manufacturing defect allowed too much moisture into the inflators, increasing the possibility that the inflator can rupture and potentially send metal fragments into vehicle occupants. This is similar or identical to the issue that caused the airbags to be recalled in the first place. As we explained in this article, Takata is supposed to stop using ammonium nitrate (the chemical that can become unstable with heat and moisture) in new orders but can continue using it in existing orders. It’s not clear what constitutes an “existing order” or whether these faulty replacement inflators indeed used the same chemical.

This new recall includes certain vehicles from the following models:

  • 2003 Acura 3.2CL
  • 2013-2016 Acura ILX
  • 2003-2006 Acura MDX
  • 2002-2003 Acura 3.2TL
  • 2004-2006 and 2009-2014 Acura TL
  • 2007-2016 Acura RDX
  • 2010-2013 Acura ZDX
  • 2001-2007 and 2009 Honda Accord
  • 2001-2005 Honda Civic
  • 2002-2007 and 2010-2011 Honda CR-V
  • 2003-2011 Honda Element
  • 2007 Honda Fit
  • 2002-2004 Honda Odyssey
  • 2003-2008 Honda Pilot
  • 2006-2014 Honda Ridgeline

Notices will go out to owners in April, but people who own these models can check their VIN now to determine if their vehicle is affected. If your vehicle is included in this recall, contact your dealer. Honda says that replacement parts (from manufacturers other than Takata) are currently available at dealerships and will be installed for free.

Currently, the company knows of one injury due to the faulty replacement inflators: a 2004 Honda Odyssey whose inflator exploded after a crash, injuring the arm of the driver.

The full statement from Honda can be found here.

CarseatBlog will continue to provide updates about the Takata airbag recalls as they become available.