Should You Use a Used Car Seat?


photo credit: TNHSO


The question of whether or not to use a previously-owned child safety seat is a common one parents and caregivers ask. The answer is important, given that a safety seat could save a child's life. Safety experts strongly recommend using a new car seat over a used one and below are some reasons why:

When is the seat's expiration date?

Did you know that most car seats only last six years? This is because the plastics from which the seats are made break down due to heat and sun exposure. Typically, the manufacturer will print the seat's expiration date on the restraint. If you cannot identify the expiration date on the product, call the manufacturer and provide the model number and date of manufacture to learn the expiration date. 

Are there any recalls on the seat?

The easiest way to check for recalls is by calling the manufacturer or checking the online child safety seat recall list.

Do you know the car seat's history?

Did you know that child safety seats are designed to perform properly in only one crash? That's it, one. We thus discourage the use of restraints that have already been involved in a motor vehicle crash, even if there is no identifiable damage to the seat. If you do not know the history of the seat, refrain from using it rather than assuming it is safe. 

Are the safety labels present?

If the seat's safety labels are not present, or if they are too faded to be legible, you could be lacking crucial safety information such as height and weight requirements or seat belt pathway locations. Federal law requires manufacturers to adhere labels that provide basic instructions, warnings and manufacturer information, along with date of manufacture and model number.

Are any parts missing?

Parts may be missing on a used seat. Sometimes parts are also recalled.

Is the owner's manual included?

The car seat manual is your safety guide. It is important to have this on hand especially during the installation process.