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Top Driver-Assist Features You’ll Want in a Used Car


My first car was a used 1990 Pontiac Grand Prix; my dad got it for free when I was in college, and by that point, it was already many, many years old. The passenger-side door frequently fell off, and it got stuck in reverse more often than not, but it was a tank in the snow, and it got me everywhere I needed to go without any nonsense. Today, however, even used vehicles come with a host of helpful technologies designed to help busy drivers, especially parents with their kiddos in tow, travel knowing that they’re safe, comfortable, and entertained along the way.

If you’re heading to a used car dealer on the hunt for a vehicle that’s loaded with tech, many pre-owned vehicles these days offer spectacular options to keep you safe and alert on the road. From helpful camera views to advanced features to avoid collisions, vehicles these days are designed to heighten the overall experience for you and everyone on the road. So, if you’re wondering about some of the best driver-assist tech to look for in used cars, here are a few of my favorites.

Collision Avoidance Tech

You never know what awaits you during your travels. You may be met with distracted drivers looking down at their phones or tourists who miss their turn and jam on the brakes once they realize it. Collisions can happen at any time; however, if you find a used car that’s armed with advanced collision avoidance tech, you’re much more likely to mitigate the damage caused by a collision or even avoid it altogether. Some of the key collision avoidance features in used cars these days include:

  • Forward Collision Warning
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert/Braking
  • Blind Spot Monitoring
  • Automatic Emergency Braking/Pedestrian Braking

Knowing that your vehicle (and everyone on board) is protected means everything. Forward collision warning helps to alert you to a potential collision in front of you, be it a driver who has slammed on their brakes or an obstruction on the road. This will prompt you to hit the brakes and avoid it if you can; some vehicles will even apply the brakes for you. Rear cross-traffic alert and rear automatic braking come to the rescue while you’re backing up in a parking lot, for example. If a vehicle is passing by and you fail to notice, it will either alert you or brake for you so that you don’t have a run-in with each other.

Of course, everyone knows that pedestrians have the right-of-way; however, that doesn’t always mean that they’re crossing in front of you when they should. You can help avoid a potentially devastating outcome by driving a vehicle that’s equipped with pedestrian braking, which will slow your vehicle to a stop in certain conditions to avoid a collision. Automatic emergency braking works very similarly, sensing a potential crash and slowing your vehicle to either avoid the collision or at least minimize damage.

A lane change alert is shown on a vehicle's mirror.

Driving Aids

When it comes to traveling down the highway, city streets, or wherever else the journey takes you, it always helps to have a car that provides you with the little features that can make a big impact. From detecting when you could use a little break to gently guiding you back into your lane when you’ve become distracted by the kids, the following driving aids make it easy to maintain a safe ride both for you and everyone traveling around you. My favorite driving aids include:

Lane departure alert and lane-keeping assistance features are outstanding little aids to help when you’ve drifted out of your lane and didn’t even realize it. Hey, it happens to the best of us, right? An alert and a little nudge back in the right direction, and you’re back on track. I also like adaptive cruise control, especially for long journeys down the interstate. We all know that fellow travelers speed up and slow down frequently, and who wants to constantly adjust their cruise control every time this happens? Not me, so if my car will do it for me, I’m all for it.

My car also has a good sense of when I’m getting tired. Well, we may not be that in tune with one another, but when you’re traveling on a long journey, an alert will pop up suggesting a break. It can make a big difference when you’re able to get out, stretch your legs, and perhaps grab a cup of coffee so that you can complete the next leg of your journey alert and ready for it.

Plenty of digital displays also help, and if you’re interested in vehicles with advanced tech, these features won’t let you down. Digital gauge displays provide you with helpful information right behind the steering wheel, like various alerts, speed, and diagnostics. Opt for a head-up display, and you can enjoy this information right on the windshield for even more convenience.

Clear Views

Finding a used car you like that has sophisticated camera tech can really come in handy. Many modern vehicles are equipped with various cameras, providing you with the views you need to maintain a safe ride, whether you’re cruising down the highway or navigating through a busy parking lot. Some of my favorite helpful features to provide a clearer drive include:

Cameras that provide you with a bird’s-eye view around your vehicle come in handy in many different situations. They help you be more aware of your surroundings, especially in unfamiliar areas. They also assist when you’re parking, especially if you’re attempting to utilize those parallel parking skills you learned back in high school. Backup cameras are also great for parking situations, helping you see better behind you so that you don’t strike a car passing by and cause all sorts of stress for both you and the other party.

Speaking of clear views, when you’re traveling at night or even in dimly lit environments, you’ll need to be able to see clearly in front of you, which is where automatic high beams come in to save the day. This means one less thing to worry about while you make your way to your destination. As your car adjusts the brightness for you, you won’t have to worry about temporarily blinding an oncoming car because you’ve forgotten to turn off your high beams. We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

A tow camera is shown on an infotainment screen in a Chevy truck.

Choosing the Best Driver-Assist Tech

If you’re searching for a used car, it pays to look into these features. After all, the safety of your family is an absolute priority, and there’s nothing wrong with having a little assistance along the way. From collision avoidance tools to convenient driving aids to advanced camera views, all of these features work together to help keep you as safe and alert as possible.

The great thing about buying a used car is that there are so many options. You’re not limited to just one brand or year; you’re able to choose from so many options with varying features to help you create the ride you require during your time on the road. However, I encourage you to prioritize driver-assist features. They really come in handy when you least expect it, allowing you to travel with more confidence and peace of mind, especially when your kiddos are along for the ride.