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Published on July 03, 2013

Steer Clear of Garage-sale Car Seats

Reasons why buying used isn't safe

It's that time of year when garage sale signs accumulate on seemingly every neighborhood corner. Dean Foundation Passenger Safety Educator Sherri Faust is reminding parents and grandparents that as you hunt for bargains, avoid purchasing used car seats at all costs.

Sherri says used car seats are not worth it for four reasons:

  • Reason 1 - Used car seats may be missing pieces. When we're talking about a good bargain, sometimes a missing piece or two doesn't seem like that big a deal. However, that missing piece is part of the safety seat for a reason. In the event of an accident, that missing part could be the one you need to keep your child or grandchild safe and secure.
  • Reason 2 - The car seat may have been in a crash. You never want to reuse a car seat that's been in a crash. When a car seat is in a crash, all the force from the collision is transferred to the car seat - part of the reason it helps keep kids safe. While the car seat may look okay following a crash, a lot of stress was put on it. In the terrible event that the car seat is in a second crash, those areas that absorbed all the force the first time may not hold up the second time.
  • Reason 3 - The seat may have been recalled. People lead busy lives, so when a car seat is recalled due to defective parts or poor design, parents and grandparents don't always get the memo. Those car seats can then end up in garage sales. While there are websites dedicated to tracking recalled items, older items are probably an afterthought. My rule of thumb is, would you trust your child or grandchild's life to a Google search or would you just rather spend the extra money to make sure they're safe?
  • Reason 4 - Car seats have an expiration date. Like a gallon of milk, a car seat has an expiration date which is often stamped into the plastic. Otherwise, car seats should have a sticker indicating when it was manufactured. It's recommended that the seat be thrown out after six years and be replaced with a new one.
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