Buying a second-hand CarSeat is an issue that has generally brought unanimous advice from safety experts and consumer watchdog groups especially. The general rule is: don’t do it. The reasons for this are generally straightforward, even if there are a few exceptions to the rule.
So, given that buying a new one is fraught with difficulties based on issues such as choosing the right one for your child and one that fits your car, buying second-hand seat becomes even more of a safety concern.
Most safety experts seem to agree that the biggest problem associated with buying second-hand is that you simply do not know whether or not it has been involved in an accident, which could weaken the restraining abilities of the seat, thus putting your child in danger. An owner is supposed to through away any seat that has been involved in a car accident, but there is nothing to guarantee that your second-purchase has not been in a crash. The only way to guarantee this is to buy new.
New is Expensive
The problem is that buying new can be expensive and they have to be replaced when your child grows older, because different seats are designed for different sized children based on height and weight. No wonder many parents feel they need to recoup some of the costs of previous purchase by selling on once their child has grown out of it.
When is is acceptable to buy 2nd Hand?
With this in mind, you may have friends that are selling on their car seat. This is perhaps the only exception to the rule; that is if your friend or a member of your extended family is the seller and you know and trust that it has not been used in a vehicle that has had an accident. But even in these circumstances, you should still take a number of precautions ahead of buying the second-hand seat in question.
First of all, make sure to check for damage. Always remember, however, that some stress damage is not always visible. Make sure to check there are instructions. This is hugely important as without them it will be difficult to address any problems associated with fitting. Not having the instructions also has major safety implications in terms of the length of time the it can be used before it should be replaced. Even if the child seat has not been in an accident, the manufacturer may give it a use-by date.
Does the Seat Fit
If all of these criteria apply and the seat is deemed suitable for your child, based on the commonly used categories of Group 0, Group 0+, Group 1 and Group 2, then the best thing to do is to check the seat fits your car. If it does not fit properly then there is not point making the purchase. Your friend should understand that it is necessary to go through this process before buying, because, after all, the safety of your child is at stake.