Buyers' Safety Checklist for Used Car Seats

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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.


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Pardeep

20 years of experience
652 reviews
Pardeep
20 years of experience
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Again 5 star service. And already scheduling him for my next appointment. Highly recommend Pardeep for your car needs.
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Great knowledgeable mechanic and fast great work. I will use Pardeep and your services again. Thank you

Theodore

15 years of experience
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Theodore
15 years of experience
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Theodore arrived on time, he did a great job replacing my brakes on my Camry, I will definitely work with him again.
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We have had previous work done by Theodore. Really appreciate his thoroughness and professionalism!

Matthew

32 years of experience
734 reviews
Matthew
32 years of experience
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We've been using Your Mechanic services for a few years, for a few reasons. The convenience of having an expert mechanic "on-call," the great pricing and transparency for services (saving 10% - 25% at times), most of all Matt is our go-to guy who is highly qualified, knowledgeable in the work and knows how to explain it to us in detail.
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Matt's technical knowledge of his profession is incredible! He is prompt, thorough, friendly, professional, engaging, and completes the job to 100% perfection! Thank you, Matt for the most outstanding auto repair service in all my many years!!!

Jason

31 years of experience
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Jason
31 years of experience
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Jason was very professional and friendly. He provided extremely honest and helpful advice on issues with my Altima that would require proactive future maintenance.

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