Q. Can I use a secondhand car seat to save money?
A. A car seat should not be used after it is involved in a moderate to severe crash. Even if it looks fine, its internal structure may have been weakened by the impact of the crash. Never buy a used car seat at a secondhand shop or tag sale because you have no way of knowing whether it was involved in a crash.
If a friend offers to lend you a car seat, and she's sure it's never been in a crash, ask her these questions. If all of the answers are yes, go ahead and borrow it.
- Is the seat less than 6 years old? (Ordinary wear can reduce a seat's protective abilities.)
- Does the seat have all its parts? (If not, you may be able to order missing parts from the manufacturer.)
- Does the seat have labels stating its date of manufacture and model number? (You'll need these to find out if the seat has been recalled or if it is too old.)
- Does the seat have its instruction booklet? (If not, you may be able to request a copy from the manufacturer or download a copy from its website.)
- If the seat was recalled, has it been properly repaired? (The manufacturer should have recall details. Or call the NHTSA's Auto Safety Hotline: 888-327-4236. Sometimes a problem on a recalled seat can be fixed.)
Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.
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