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  1. #1
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    Aug 2012
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    Car Shopping- What Year?

    Hello all!

    So, we need a new car. We can't afford a new car or even a recent used car.

    I'm in the $4000 and down range, price-wise and I need some help, specifically with safety features and accomodations for car seats.

    I'm in the market for an SUV or Mini-Van if possible because I'd prefer to rear-face my toddlers as long as possible and most older sedans won't have the adequate room between the front and back seats to accommodate that.

    What year did they make the new regulations for cars to be able to accommodate car seat needs like the anchor in the back and the ones on the sides?

    I looked at a car recently that was I believe a 97 and it didn't have any anchors or anyway whatsoever to secure a carseat beyond the belt- which did NOT have a locking feature, so we passed on it.

    I know all the newer ones have these things standard, but when did they become standard? Basically what I'm asking is - how far back in years can I go while I'm looking for a replacement vehicle? Is 2000 to far? I used to have a 2000 Saturn and we couldn't put my toddlers in it once they got past the infant seat stage because they were missing the anchors that are now standard.

    My 4 year old is in a Graeco that is about 3 years old now and we just invested in a Clicktight Convertible for my 2 year old.

    Thanks for any insight you can offer!

    J

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  3. #2
    Senior Community Member thepote's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
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    Hi-
    I believe it was 2000 when they were mandated.

    When looking at vehicles, check their crash test ratings at www.safercar.gov and www.iihs.org. Both test cars but in slightly different ways.

    Good luck!

  4. #3
    Carseat Crazy
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    Re: Car Shopping- What Year?

    Quote Originally Posted by Janelle210 View Post
    I used to have a 2000 Saturn and we couldn't put my toddlers in it once they got past the infant seat stage because they were missing the anchors that are now standard.
    Just because a car lacks LATCH doesn't mean it's unsafe or not compatible with car seats! All lower anchors have weight limits so once a child reaches a certain weight you've got to use a seat belt anyway. Does LATCH make life easier? Yes, but it's not necessary.

    My sister has a 2001 CRV and it doesn't have lower anchors, just top tethers. The seat belts lock and once I figured out what I was doing the seat belt install of our FF and RF seats is pretty easy.

  5. #4
    Moderator - CPS Technician BookMama's Avatar
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    It's definitely possible to keep kids RF in some sedans. I had kids RF until age 4 in a 1998 Escort and a 2003 Focus. I didn't have particularly small car seats, either.
    Andrea, CPST, Tech proxy, special Needs trained
    DS 4/01 - Seatbelt * DD1 11/05 - Oobr, PWSGL, Performance Booster
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    Plus a plethora of "spare" seats for everyone.

  6. #5
    Moderator - CPS Technician
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    Re: Car Shopping- What Year?

    Quote Originally Posted by BookMama View Post
    It's definitely possible to keep kids RF in some sedans. I had kids RF until age 4 in a 1998 Escort and a 2003 Focus. I didn't have particularly small car seats, either.
    Yes, I was thinking the same thing. With a very tight budget and only two children, I'd look for a sedan rather than a minivan or SUV. We had two children rear facing in a 99 Altima (smaller than current generation Altimas) for years. The Ford Taurus comes to mind as a very roomy sedan, but you can usually fit two RF children in a sedan even if it's not super roomy and your seats aren't that small.
    Cutie #1 (13 years) 5-stepping
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  7. #6
    Carseat Crazy
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    Apr 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by jjordan View Post
    Yes, I was thinking the same thing. With a very tight budget and only two children, I'd look for a sedan rather than a minivan or SUV. We had two children rear facing in a 99 Altima (smaller than current generation Altimas) for years. The Ford Taurus comes to mind as a very roomy sedan, but you can usually fit two RF children in a sedan even if it's not super roomy and your seats aren't that small.
    I agree. With your budget and two small children, I would be looking for a Ford Taurus or the Ford Five Hundred which was the same vehicle with a different name that they used for a few years in the 2000s. Working with a CPST to get upright installs in a full size or mid size sedan will give you far more room than in a small SUV.
    Mama to Josie (4/08, 47lbs & 49"), retriever-cat Hotrod, munchkin-cat Gizmo, and hell-cat Leggs.

  8. #7
    Member
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    Jan 2010
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    NY
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    Re: Car Shopping- What Year?

    We recently bought a 2006 Sienna. Our budget was around 10k, but even that was a tight squeeze for one in really good shape with low mileage. We wanted it to be the main family car to be used on driving vacations, trips to visit family, etc. I would agree that with your budget you should be looking for a sedan, unless you are willing to get an older car in worse shape, that you would just be driving around town and not putting a lot of miles on.

    I had a Taurus before the van and that car was huge. You could definitely ERF in that thing! We only got rid of it because we didn't like not being able to have an adult sit in back next to the baby.

  9. #8
    Carseat Crazy
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    230

    Re: Car Shopping- What Year?

    It sounds like maybe you're talking about pre-2000 cars missing the top tether points, not the lower anchors--those would cause a problem with installing many forward-facing seats. However, you can retrofit an older car with tethers pretty easily/inexpensively in most cases, so definitely check with a dealer/mechanic before ruling out an otherwise good candidate.

    Also echoing everyone saying not to rule out sedans if the only reason you're looking at minivans is for extended rear-facing--particularly given that you already have a Britax seat, you'll have no problem with many older cars. Our Britax Marathon G3 fit rear-facing in our 2001 Toyota subcompact sedan with no problems.

    LATCH (both lower anchors and top tethers) became standard for the 2003 model year, but many manufacturers adopted them earlier (e.g., our 2001 Toyota Prius sedan had them). But I'd probably try to stick to cars newer than that anyway just from the maintenance/longevity perspective. Good luck!

  10. #9
    Carseat Crazy
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    I would also look at cars rather than vans or suvs, you will likely have more options and get more for your money

    I had a 1999 alero. It had latch and would have worked for car seats. It was the 4 door version. An older impala might also work well. My parents had a 2007 model in good shape they sold for less than $4000. It fit all three of my kids well and 2 were rear facing at the time.
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    C: 12/10, RF sporty blue TF

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