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Buying a used Toyota Corolla: safety issues

We need to get a second car and I’m pretty set on getting a used Toyota Corolla. Wondering if there is a cutoff on the age – a salesman at a dealership said 2002s and later all have side-impact airbags and all the safety features of 2009s.

Anyone know if this is true? 2002s are good but 2001s and earlier should be avoided? This is for teen drivers, too, so I’m super concerned with safety.

(I really want to buy a manual transmission, by the way. The kids must learn stick shift!! I don’t care how much they complain about it now!!)

I believe that side bags became common on the 2002 year and you will find fewer of them on 2001 cars. I don’t think they were put on all cars the same time.

As a former car salesperson I have to say, “Don’t believe anything a salesperson tells you.” Many car salespersons know absolutely nothing about cars (it’s true!), and will say anything to make a sale.

You can look up the safety features of any model year car for yourself. Google is your friend.

It’s hard for me to believe the safety features on a Corolla haven’t changed since 2002.

Thanks for making the kids learn to drive stick. I think this should be required to get a driver’s license, even if they never drive stick again.

I don’t see any reason to avoid cars built before 2002. I’m currently driving a '96 Subaru and a '97 Acura and I feel perfectly safe in either car.

Side impact air bags were an OPTION in those years.

From what I can find (at microsoft carpoint) side airbags only became available (as an option) on Corollas in 2004, and were unavailble before then. I strongly recommend you get a car with them, they greatly increase the survivability in a side impact.

“I don’t see any reason to avoid cars built before 2002.”

I agree in general, but the Corolla changed from timing belt to timing chain somewhere in early-to-mid 2000’s. When I bought a used Corolla a few weeks ago, I avoided the timing belt years. I have gotten tired of that maintenance cost. But that is just my personal preference.

My 2005 Corolla had a chain.