Getting Real with Kira Hazledine
I see used car seats all over Facebook marketplace and other advertising platforms. I’m assuming that one of two things are happening:
- An expensive car seat was purchased and probably used for only a few months. No more children are being planned and parents are just trying to get some return on what I know cost a chunk of money.
- Parents are just trying to do a good thing by passing on a car seat that is likely still in excellent condition, but for half the price you can find them new.
I don’t blame anyone in this situation. Selling a used car seat seems harmless, and really, what are the risks? Someone gets a good deal and someone else gets some cash back. HOWEVER. Not everyone is honest or educated in this world, and this could put your child’s life in danger.
You should NEVER purchase a used car seat.
Why? Car seats have expiration dates in the US, so people assume that as long as the car seat is in date there should be no problems. But there are.
Unless it’s a close family member or friend that you would literally trust with your child’s life, don’t attempt to use a pre-owned car seat. Even then, I don’t know if I would. You have no idea if a used car seat has been in an accident, and even if the seat looks fine, pieces of it could be compromised. Something could have been weakened just enough, that if an accident with your child in it happened, a safety mechanism could snap. You just don’t know.
Even well-meaning people who swear a car seat has never been in an accident could have been storing it in a basement somewhere. Humidity and moisture does damage to anything, including the plastic of a car seat that still appears to be in good condition.
There is absolutely no safe method of appraising a used car seat. No certified car seat specialist would tell you that a used one is fine. They are liars, seriously, so don’t believe them. There is no way to adjust the expiration date, the same way you can’t take a can of beans to a grocery store and ask them to reassess when it’s safe to eat.
If you own a used car seat that is out of date or damaged, there are many trade-in events where you can get some money towards a new seat. Yes, it’s more money, but it’s worth knowing your child is safe. At least you’re getting some return. For those in desperate need of a car seat but can’t afford something new, there are things you can do aside from purchasing used:
- Contact local assistance programs like WIC or ProAction. They may have a program that can connect you with free or reduced car seats.
- The local hospital may also have similar resources.
- Some police or fire departments offer car seat safety classes, and at the end of the course, you are given a car seat free of charge.
Most of these options, if not all, do require you to jump through some hoops to demonstrate that you are in financial need, but it’s worth every step to guarantee your child is safe. No one in your community wants you to be without a car seat. It’s tempting to buy a used car seat, but your child’s life is at stake. That may sound dramatic, but the risk is real. The goal is to travel safely, and you can only promise your child the safest journey possible in a new car seat.