As a parent of three children I’m well aware of how much baby items cost. Car seats, strollers, cribs, formula…the list goes on and on. And I’m all for saving a few bucks whenever possible. But is using a used car seat a good idea?
Are Used Car Seats Safe?
Frugal parents often ask me if it is okay to buy a used car seat for their baby. They are put off by the high cost of a brand new seat and would like to save some money. But at the same time they want to be sure they aren’t putting their little bundle of joy at risk.
So what’s the real deal? Are used car seats safe?
Absolutely not. I would never advise any parent to but a used car seat, or even accept one as a gift. Let me explain why.
First of all, if you buy a used seat at a garage sale or from Craigslist you know nothing about it. What if it was in an accident before? It could look as if it came right out of the box and you would think it is perfectly safe. But there could be unseen damage that would make it a death trap for your little one. Manufacturers recommend discarding any car seat that has been in even a minor car accident.
Here’s another problem with using a used car seat. Manufacturers give each seat an expiration date (usually 6 years) and add the date to the labels on the seat itself. But many used car seats are missing labels and if that’s the case you won’t be able to verify its age. It could be well past the expiration date but you won’t even know it.
Missing labels could cause another issue too. If you don’t know the exact model number and date of manufacture you can’t verify if it was included in a product recall. There may be a known safety issue and you’ll have no way of knowing.
So the bottom line is this: used car seats can save you a lot of money in the short term but using one could could your baby at risk. Steer clear of garage sales and purchase a new seat from a reputable retailer.