Kids grow fast, so many of us buy used baby gear and kid clothing at garage sales, consignment stores, even on Facebook. But safety experts at Consumer Reports say there’s one thing you should think twice about buying used ––child car seats.
Consumer Reports cautions against buying one secondhand if you don’t know the seat’s full history. Even if a car seat looks fine, it may have damage you can’t see. Consumer Reports has tested hundreds of car seats, and after those crash tests, there is sometimes damage that’s not evident.
Even a seat used by an older sibling that was never in an accident might not be okay. Car seats actually have an expiration date, roughly six to ten years from the date it was manufactured. It’s printed on every model, sometimes on the side, sometimes on the bottom. Somewhere you’ll find, at the very least, the date of manufacture. Car seats have an expiration date to help consumers avoid ones with components that may have degraded over time. It also helps consumers determine whether a seat meets the latest in safety standards.
Safety doesn’t have to cost a bundle. The Cosco Scenera Next is a Consumer Reports Best Buy for around $45.
If a car seat is expired or has already been in a moderate-to-severe crash, it’s important to literally, destroy it so no one pulls it off the curb when you toss it out. Consumer Reports suggests removing all covers, cutting the straps, and clearly marking the plastic shell: “Do Not Use.” Or, bring an old car seat to trade-in events held at large retailers, like Target.
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