It’s a kind gesture to donate a car seat. However, parents should be cautious when accepting secondhand car seats. If you plan on using a secondhand car seat please keep these things in mind:
1. Previous Accidents
There’s no way to tell if a car seat has been in a previous accident. Car seats are only designed to withstand one crash, even if the crash was of a smaller magnitude. The seat may look undamaged on the outside, but there’s no way to tell if the inside is damaged. If the inside is damaged, the seat could endanger your child as it may not perform well in another accident.
2. Expiration Dates
Many people don’t know this, but car seats have expiration dates. The date that the seat was manufactured is printed on the car seat label. The expiration date is 6 years after that date. Manufacturers have determined 6 years to be about the time a car seat loses its ability to function properly in a crash, usually due to average wear and tear.
3. Missing Labels
If the labels are missing on a car seat, you are missing important information. Federal law requires every car seat to have labels that provide instructions, warnings, and manufacturer details including the date and model numbers. This information is used to look up safety recalls for that particular seat. If labels are missing, you cannot successfully check for recalls and you won’t know the expiration date.
So when is it ok to use a secondhand car seat?
1. You know the FULL history of the car seat and are 100% sure it has never been in an accident.
2. It still has labels and you determined that there have been no recalls for that seat.
3. You can see by the date on the label that the seat is not expired yet.
If all three of these statements are true, it is determined safe to use the car seat. If you can’t be sure about all three of these statements, it’s best to find a different seat. Being a new parent, even if for a second or third time, is tough. Make it a little easier by following these guidelines.