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Americans Are Keeping Their Cars Longer Than Ever. Are Old Cars Safe?

Austin PoynterAustin Poynter

Due to rising costs, inflation, and supply shortages, drivers in the United States are keeping their cars on the road for the longest time in recorded history. In 2022, the average age of passenger cars and light trucks have reached 12.2 years. Excluding light trucks, this number climbs to 13.1 years. Keeping cars on the road longer is certainly saving Americans financially, but what are the safety implications of older cars on the road? Are Americans trading financial stability for safety?

Older car lacking current safety technology

Safety Improvements in the Last Decade

Current model year cars are safer than ever before. Advancements in driver’s assistance systems have made big strides in preventing crashes. The advent of autonomous emergency braking (AEB) alone halves your chances of being in a rear-end collision. More and more manufacturers have committed to include advanced safety technology as standard for current new cars. Here are some other advanced safety features that you might not find equipped on an older car:

While older model year vehicles aren’t inherently unsafe, they either rely on old technology or lack advanced safety technology entirely. An older vehicle will keep you safe in an accident but won’t actively prevent an accident like a newer car.

The average 10-year-old car will likely be equipped with:

Drivers Must Keep up With Vehicle Maintenance

As cars are kept on the road longer, drivers must keep up with their vehicle’s maintenance as it ages. Ten-year-old vehicles require more frequent maintenance than a new car, and extra care should be taken to extend the vehicle’s service life even further. Improper maintenance is a common cause for car accidents in the US. Keeping up to date ensures that your vehicle can react to inputs faster and is more visible on the road. Here are some common maintenance items that can help prevent a car accident

  1. Replace worn out brake pads and rotors. A shorter braking distance can prevent a collision entirely.
  2. Maintain proper tire air pressure. Correctly aired up tires ensures maximum traction for sudden braking and turning.
  3. Replace tires with tread depth less than 2/32”. In many states, this is the legal minimum tread depth. You can use the penny test to see how much tread you have left.
  4. Replace burnt out headlights and taillights. Ensure proper visibility for yourself and others on the road.
  5. Inspect windshield wipers and replace if necessary. Lookout for signs of a bad wiper blade such as excessive streaks on your windshield or peeling rubber.
  6. Get any defects or recalls taken care of. Defects or recalls can lead to a collision if they are not addressed right away.

If an accident is caused by a vehicle’s improper maintenance the driver may be found liable according to the Denver car accident attorney at Dormer Harpring. Read more here: https://www.denvertrial.com/denver-car-accident-lawyer/

Owning an Old Car, A Calculated Risk

For most Americans, the decision to own an older car is made for them by financial necessity. While these cars do miss out on modern crash prevention systems, they can still be safe to drive with proper maintenance and safe driving practices. In time, more American drivers will be able to benefit from newer, safer cars as prices trend downward. But for now, we make do.

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