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On The Road To Autonomous Cars

When the 2016 North American International Auto Show kicked off in Detroit this January, much of the news surrounded concept cars — often futuristic vehicles that aren't yet ready for mass production. Self-driving cars still fit that description, but many vehicles that you can buy today already have some autonomous abilities, meant to increase convenience and safety for drivers and passengers.

Cameras Everywhere

Backup cameras are common in American-made and imported cars, but new car models often include side cameras as well. These monitor your blind spots and help you see around corners, for example, when you're backing out of a garage.

Collision Avoidance Systems

Many cars now come equipped with radar that can detect imminent collisions. In September 2015, the National Transportation Safety Board issued a report calling for these collision avoidance systems to be standard equipment, like seat belts.

Cars with collision avoidance systems often have adaptive cruise control. This feature automatically adjusts your car's speed in traffic and brakes if you get too close to another vehicle.

Similarly, some cars have warning systems that alert drowsy or distracted drivers when they veer out of a lane. Some systems can even return the car to the proper lane if the driver takes no action.

Hands-Free Technology

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 3,100 people were killed during 2013 in accidents that involved drivers who were distracted — often by cell phone use.

Knowing that consumers can't let go of their smartphones, many manufacturers have integrated cell phone technology into their cars so that drivers can use devices hands free.

The Cost Of Safety

These features are helpful — but they all come at a price. A collision avoidance system may cost between $1,000 and $2,500, lane departure warning systems often cost around $700, and cameras can add between $700 and $3,000 to the purchase price. So if you're in the market for a car that has them, you'll want to save money where you can.

Most drivers know that car insurance companies offer discounts for such features as anti-lock brakes, airbags and anti-theft devices. They'll most likely add discounts for some of these new-to-market features, but not until they have enough data to show that the technology reduces claims.

If you're financing a car with the latest safety features, make sure you're not paying too much for your auto loan. Credit unions tend to offer the most competitive rates. The national average rate for new and used car loans issued by credit unions in 2015 was more than 2 percentage points below those issued by banks, according to an analysis done by the National Credit Union Administration, a federal regulatory agency.

Some financial institutions, like Michigan Educational Credit Union, offer interest rate discounts for borrowers who have a checking account with them or use direct deposit. Recent college grads can often cash in on an additional discount.

Buying a safer car is a smart choice — and so is saving money when you do.

Ellen Cannon, NerdWallet

© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

2016 - 1991 Automobiles (100% Financed)
Effective Date: 02/01/2016
Year FromYear ToTermAPR* as low as
2016 2012 Up to 60 Months 1.75%
2016 2012 72 Months** 2.75%
2016 2012 84 Months** 3.25%
2011 2009 Up to 60 Months 2.75%
2008 1991 Up to 48 Months 5.75%

** Minimum $25,000.00 for 84 month term, Minimum $10,000 for 72 month term

College Grad Discount - 2014 and 2015 graduates can save .25% off MECU's current 2016s/2015s auto loan rates.

Classic Cars (25 years and older)
As low as 7.50% - 36 months 7.50% - 48 months (minimum $10,000)

*Rates includes a .25% discount for direct deposit and .25% discount for share draft checking and may vary based on credit history. Please call the Credit Union for the most current rates and more details. Rates are subject to change at any time without notice.

Share Savings
Effective Date: 02/01/2016
Regular Share Savings .15%
Christmas Club .15%
Vacation Club .15%
The minimum balance in these accounts is just $5.00. Rates may change at any time. Fees, which could be assessed for other services available through the credit union could reduce the earnings on these accounts. There is no fee however to maintain a Share Savings, Vacation or Christmas Club account. * Rates are subject to change at any time.
Share Certificates
Effective Date: 02/01/2016
TermAPY*Minimum Amount
91 Days 0.20% $2,500
182 Days 0.30% $2,500
365 Days 0.50% $2,500
18 Months 0.50% $5,000
24 Months 0.75% $5,000
30 Months 0.75% $5,000
36 Months 1.00% $5,000
48 Months 1.40% $5,000
60 Months 1.75% $5,000
Rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Please call for the most current rates.
*Annual Percentage Yields
All Rates
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Michigan Educational Credit Union,
9200 Haggerty Road Plymouth, MI 48170
Dedicated to serving the financial needs of the educational community since 1942.
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