Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Buyers' Safety Checklist for Used Car Seats

Used car seat

Car seats, like every other aspect of parenthood, can be a costly necessity, especially for something that is guaranteed to be used for only a few years at best. Much like clothes and toys, more and more parents are finding it prudent to simply purchase used car seats – but unlike clothes and toys, there’s a lot more risk involved with secondhand safety harnesses that cannot simply be washed away or stitched up. While it’s not generally recommended to buy or accept used car seats, there are still signs to look for to ensure that if you do go the secondhand route, your purchase is still safe and reliable. While being expensive doesn’t necessarily mean being the best, saving money on a car seat doesn’t necessarily mean you are making a smart purchase, especially when a child’s safety is involved. If the car seat you’ve purchased or are looking to purchase fails any of these steps, pass on it and move on – there are better, safer directions to go.

Some of the things you want to consider when looking at used car seats include:

  • Is the car seat model more than six years old? Although you wouldn’t consider car seats as something that would have an expiration date, all models do actually have one at six years after manufacturing date. Apart from the fact that there are certain components that can wear out over time, this was also implemented to compensate for changing laws and regulations. Even if a car seat is determined to be structurally sound, it could be out of compliance with newer safety laws. Also, due to it's age, maintenance and replacement parts may not be readily available.

  • Has it been in an accident before? If so, or if you can’t find out, the safest route to take would be to avoid buying or accepting it entirely. Regardless of what the car seat may look like on the outside, there could be structural damage on the inside that can lessen or even eliminate the car seat’s efficacy. Car seats are only tested for a single crash event, which means there is no certainty on the part of the manufacturer as to how the car seat would withstand any subsequent accidents.

  • Are all of the parts present and accounted for? No part on a car seat is arbitrary – everything it’s made of is there to serve a very specific purpose. If the used seat in question is missing its instruction manual, it's usually possible to find it online to ensure that all of the parts are present and fully functional.

  • Can you find the manufacturer’s name? Car seat recalls are very common, particularly due to faulty parts. If you’re unable to determine who manufactured the car seat, you’ll have next to no way of knowing if its model was ever subjected to a recall. If you know the manufacturer, and the model was recalled, the manufacturer could provide either replacement parts or a different car seat.

  • How “used” is it? Nothing that spends a few years restraining a flailing, crying, eating, mess-making infant comes out looking too pristine, but beyond the traditional wear, check the chassis for cracks, faulty harness snaps, tears in the harnesses themselves, or any other damage that goes beyond the typical “wear and tear.” Any sign of physical damage beyond spilled food should be a red flag that the car seat is probably not suitable for further use.

While purchase of a used car seat is not often recommended for the above reasons, it’s understandable that it’s a more financially attractive option, since car seats can be notoriously pricey. While some argue that factors like expiration dates are just a ploy to discourage repurchasing car seats, it’s still important to err on the side of caution, especially with something as crucial to a child’s safety. So don’t rush the decision to purchase a car seat used simply because it’s cheap. Examine it closely, make sure that it follows the above standards, and listen to any doubts you may instinctively have about its efficacy, and you can still get a good car seat at a price that won’t break the bank.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

P0121 OBD-II Trouble Code: TPS "A" Circuit Range Performance Problem
P0121 code definition Throttle Pedal Position Sensor/Switch (TPS) A Circuit Range Performance Problem What the P0121 code means P0121 is a generic OBD-II code which indicates that the Engine Control...
P0222 OBD-II Trouble Code: Throttle/Pedal Position Switch/Sensor B Circuit Low Input
P0222 code definition Throttle/Pedal Position Switch/Sensor B Circuit Low Input What the P0222 code means The manufacturer specifies a range of acceptable voltage to be produced from the throttle position...
How to Get a Louisiana Driver's Permit
s licensing program. The first step in this program is to obtain...


Related questions

Q: How do you adjust the head restraints in a 2012 Nissan Altima?

Head restraints are built into the front two seats (driver and passenger). They’re designed to provide comfort, but also to help reduce the chance of injury in an accident. They are also adjustable to fit drivers or passengers of different...

Q: How do I activate the childproof locks?

As a parent, it’s important that you keep your kids safe while you’re on the road. One important way to do that is to activate the childproof door locks. They’re located on the back doors only in your car, and...

Q: Where and how should children be seated?

While adults can sit in any position in your car, that’s not true for children. Children must be properly seated at all times, but the type of seating will vary depending on your child’s age, weight and more. Here’s a...