The 10 Best Driver Assist Features to Look For in a Used Vehicle

September 8th, 2023 by

An orange 2018 Chevy Equinox drives around a bend on a mountain road

If you had heard as a child that one day there would be vehicles that park themselves or tell you when you need a nap, you probably wouldn’t have believed it. Neither would we. Not long ago, some of the driver assist features that are pretty standard today seemed incredibly futuristic. However, technology advances fast, and most car manufacturers are in a race against each other. The moment one creates a new category of driver-assist feature, the others are in their labs, trying to make something similar––or better. Many vehicles have boasted highly capable and intelligent driver assist features for years now. If you’re shopping for used cars near Cary, NC, you’ll find that we have plenty of pre-owned models with some of the most current driver-assist features.

You’ll probably look at many models when shopping for a used car, and the options for driver-assist features might initially overwhelm you. Knowing which ones actually improve safety on the road and reduce the chances of an accident is important. Research shows that many modern driver assist features do, in fact, help prevent accidents. In fact, cars equipped with such features can see a 27 percent reduction in bodily injury-related insurance claims and a 19 percent reduction in property damage-related claims. The evidence is all there: having good safety features can save you money and possibly even save your life. Here are some of the features worth looking for.

#1 – HD Rear Cameras

Until recently, if you had to back out of a driveway or into a parking spot, you just had to rely on craning your neck or asking a friend to hop out and spot you. But new regulations mandate that all vehicles produced since 2018 come with a backup camera, and that has helped save people a lot of neck pain (literally).

Find a car made post-2018, and you will have no problem finding such a camera, and even many older used cars have backup cameras. If you can get one with an HD camera, you’ll enjoy extra-clear views of what’s happening behind your vehicle. In 2019, GM started putting HD backup cameras in many of its models, including the Chevy Blazer, Chevy Equinox, Chevy Silverado, GMC Terrain, GMC Sierra, and Cadillac XT4.

It can be very beneficial to find a camera system with backup grids. These lines adjust to show the real-time trajectory of your vehicle as you make subtle steering adjustments. However, only some models offer this technology.

A red 2023 Cadillac XT4 parked on a beach at sunset

#2 – Blind Spot Monitoring

Oh, the blind spot. Even the name alone can elicit some panic. The blind spot has always been a scary thing for drivers. Luckily, many vehicles today have a blind spot monitoring system that will let you know if someone is approaching you in your blind spot. Research has shown that vehicles with this system have a 14 percent lower collision rate than those that do not. This might be one of the most impactful driver-assist features a vehicle can have. When you’re taking the I-40 from Cary to Raleigh, and someone is coming up on your blind spot just as you are about to switch lanes, a vehicle with this system will alert you and help prevent one of the worst types of accidents.

#3 – Forward Collision Avoidance

A forward collision avoidance system can contain several elements. At the very least, it will have alerts that notify you if you’re getting too close to the vehicle in front of you––either with audible beeps, visual alerts, or both. Many of these systems also have emergency automatic braking, which takes over braking for you if you don’t react in time. Some more advanced systems will have pedestrian detection and are capable of sensing not just vehicles in front of the car but also people––alerting you and stopping if necessary.

#4 – Connected Services Capability

Connected services include a wide range of convenience features, but many will alert first responders when the system senses a crash. One of the most well-known examples is GM’s OnStar, but other brands offer similar technologies. They can also help you keep your vehicle safe when you aren’t in it, with anti-theft features like remote ignition lock and theft alerts.

#5 – Driver Attention Alerts

Even the drivers with the best intentions can mismanage their time and energy. If you are tired because you didn’t have time for your stop at one of Cary’s popular coffee shops like Crema Coffee Roaster or Java Jive, the system will actually detect the signs of fatigue. It might notice your head nodding or reduced engagement with the steering wheel.

Depending on the vehicle you have, these systems use different sensors or cameras to monitor your alertness. They will then employ visual, audible, or tactile alerts to tell you it’s time to pull over and rest. It is common for many of these systems to display a small coffee cup-shaped warning light in your driver information center when fatigue is detected. In others, the steering wheel might vibrate.

#6 – Lane Keep Assist

As the name suggests, lane-keep assist systems help you stay in your lane. They can alert you when you are veering out of your lane, and some even take over steering to gently guide you back into your lane. They work by using cameras to monitor the lines on the road, so they aren’t always perfect in bad weather or poorly marked roads, but they go a long way to prevent a common type of accident.

#7 – Seat Belt Reminders

You probably have a lot of things on your mind as you’re preparing for your journey. Between pulling up directions, getting that perfect playlist ready, and perhaps getting backseat customers buckled up, it is easy to forget to buckle your own seat belt. Luckily, many models have seat belt reminders for front and rear-seat passengers. Seat belts can massively reduce injuries and fatalities in an accident, so this is a potentially life-saving feature.

A grey 2019 Cadillac CT6-V speeds past trees on a two-lane road

#8 – Following Distance Indicators

It is always important to keep a safe distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you. You probably remember your driving instructor back in high school telling you to stay two or three seconds behind the car in front of you. However, very few drivers follow this rule once they get their license. Following distance indicators will let you set the desired distance between yourself and other cars and alert you when you are getting too close.

#9 – Road Sign Recognition

Sometimes, when there is a lot of smog, snow, or rain, it is difficult to see upcoming road signs with your own two eyes. North Carolina can see a good deal of overcast and sometimes even snowy days in the fall and winter. But the police do not care why you broke the speed limit. Even if they are hard to see, it is your responsibility to be aware of traffic signs. Luckily, some used vehicles have roadside recognition technology. These will alert you of upcoming signs like speed limit changes and even display the sign on your driver information center.

#10 – Active Parking Assist

While parking jobs that go wrong rarely result in major damage, it is still nice to avoid the minor dings and scratches that can happen when parking your vehicle. Some used cars today have active parking assist that can actually take over parking for you. Toyota was the first manufacturer to reveal such a system back in 2003. When activated, these systems will use sensors and cameras to detect objects around the vehicle and even take over braking and steering to get you into that tricky parking spot on Chatham Street.