How to Buy Car Seats

Like if this guide is helpful
How to Buy Car Seats

Anyone with children of any age needs to know how to buy a quality car seat. In the case of an accident, a car seat is proven to make the difference between life and death. Keeping this in mind, a good car seat is worth every bit of the cost. That said, there are many types of car seats, and parents have the difficult task of choosing one that can be used for the longest time, while still providing adequate protection. Some seats can only be used for a short period of time, while others are made to convert into a different style of seat as the child grows.

There are also other types of car seats, like booster seats and carrycots. There are also two main attachment systems in use with car seats. By knowing about the different car seat designs on the market and the safety certifications a seat should have, parents can choose the one that is the most convenient for their lifestyle, ensuring that the seat is used as much as it should. Car seats of all shapes and sizes can be found on eBay, as well as in department stores.

Car Seat Weight Groups

Child car seats are divided into four main weight groups. These groups overlap quite a bit, giving parents more freedom in choosing a seat that lasts the child for a while. Rear-facing seats are always safer than front-facing seats, but these are only available in the smaller sizes because of the space restrictions in cars. Some car seats can be used as a rear-facing seat when the baby is small that can then be turned into a front-facing seat as the child grows. Of course, this should only be done if the seat is specifically designed to work this way because the attachment system is very important and should not be 'rigged' or changed in any way.

Group 0 Car Seats

Group 0 car seats are made for newborns, and can be used until the baby weighs 10 kg. For most children, this is at around a year of age. There is also another category called Group 0+. These seats are made to last until the child weighs 13 kg, adding another 6 months or so to the usable life of the car seat. The majority of Group 0 seats are infant carriers that are attached rear-facing in a car, but can be taken out to transport the baby. Some can be used as rockers in the house, and others are part of travel systems and attach to a pram. Be aware that very small babies should be fully reclining most of the time because of their developing spines. Do not use the car seat for extended periods of time, especially until the baby is at least 3 months old.

Group 1 Car Seats

Group 1 seats can be used while the child is in the weight range of 9 to 18 kg. This corresponds roughly to the period from age 9 months to 4 or 5 years. Most Group 1 seats are front-facing. However, multiple studies show that rear-facing seats are much safer all the way until age 4. This is because frontal crashes are usually much more serious than rear-enders, and the child can experience 'whiplash' and other serious neck injuries in a front-facing seat. In a rear-facing seat on the other hand, the sudden change in speed of the car pushes the child further into the foam of the seat, thereby absorbing the energy.

Rear-facing infant seats in the Group 1 category are often imported from countries with strict car seat laws, like Sweden. While this makes them more expensive, they are worth it for the peace of mind they bring because they have passed rigorous testing that front-facing seats do not pass. Manufacturers in the UK who offer rear-facing seats for toddlers through age 4 include Brio, Maxi-Cosi, Recaro, and BeSafe.

Group 2 Car Seats

Group 2 seats are usually made for children within the range of 15 to 25 kg. While there is a lot of individual variation, this usually corresponds to ages 3 through 7. Be aware that there may be some variation in the weight ranges between manufacturers. Always follow the instructions provided for a given car seat. Many Group 2 seats are also approved as Group 3 seats, and have a detachable back. It is advisable to use the back as long as possible because the 'wings' on either side provide protection in case of a side collision.

Group 3

Group 3 seats are generally booster seats that can be used up to age 12, or 36 kg. As with Group 2 seats, the neck support and wings on the back are very useful in protecting the head and chest in the event of a side collision.

The table below gives the weight recommendations of each group and the recommended age at which the child should start and stop using them.

Group

Weight Range

Recommended Age

Front- or Rear-Facing

Group 0 or 0+

3-10 kg; 3-13 kg for 0+

Birth to 1 year

Rear-facing

Group 1

9-18 kg

Age 1 to 4

Rear-facing

Group 2

15 to 25 kg

Age 4 to 7

Front-facing

Group 3

22 to 36 kg

Age 7 to 12

Front-facing

Weight ranges may vary for different seat models. Children who are tall for their age should use the seat that best fits their height, and not necessarily their weight.

Alternative Car Seat Types

There are three basic alternatives to the basic car seat. These are booster seats, carrycots, and convertible car seats. There are different safety concerns to be aware of with each one.

Booster Seats

Studies have shown that booster seats provide very little protection in the event of a crash. At best, they allow the car's seat belt to fit properly across the child's pelvic region and shoulder instead of across the child's neck and stomach. However, they provide no protection for the neck and head. When a full child seat is available in a child's size, it is always a better choice than a booster seat.

Carrycots

Carrycots are made to lie sideways in a seat and allow a baby to travel in a fully reclined position. These may be a good option for premature babies, but in general, they do not offer as much protection as an infant carrier or Group 0 seat. It is best to keep travelling to a minimum with premature babies and newborns in general.

Convertible Car Seats

Some seats are made to convert from a Group 0 seat all the way to a Group 2/3 seat. While buying a seat that can be used for a long time is usually a budget-friendly solution, these seats do not offer the same protection as seats that cover only a short period of time. Ideally, parents should use a Group 0 seat for the first year, and then change to a Group 1 seat until the child is 3 or 4. At that point, the child can be put in a front-facing Group 2 seat. This is because the padding in the seats is designed to cushion the head and body in a certain way. As the child grows, the seat can be adjusted only so much as to continue to offer the same protection. The seat should definitely be changed when the child's eyes are level with the top of the seat, if not before.

Isofix Car Seat Attachment

One of the most important factors in how a car seat functions in an emergency situation is how well it is attached to the seat. Car seats can be attached to the car in one of two ways. One is the traditional seat belt system. This attachment system is often difficult to install and remove, making it less than convenient in situations where the seat has to be moved between cars on a regular basis. It is also less secure than the Isofix system. The only drawback of the Isofix system is that the car has to come with Isofix fixing points. The newest cars have three points for maximum security but many cars since 2002 have two Isofix fixing points. Using this system, the car seat simply clicks into place. No adjustment is necessary and the seat is as secure as the other seats in the car.

Car Seat Safety Certifications

The UK has a regulation called ECE R44/04, and this is the standard for all car seats. This regulation puts all car seats through a 50 km/h frontal collision, and a 30 km/h rear collision with test dummies. Seats passing the test are approved for sale in Europe. However, the ECE R44/04 does not test for side collisions, which are often more dangerous than frontal collisions. The ADAC Test, by the ADAC organisation in Germany is more stringent, as is the Swedish PLUS Test. Car seats with these seals have passed testing in frontal, rear, and side collisions. BeSafe is one company whose seats pass the most stringent tests.

How to Buy a Car Seat on eBay

Buying a car seat on eBay is fast and simple. eBay offers the widest possible selection, competitive prices, and experienced sellers with a proven record of excellent customer service. All of these make eBay a popular place to shop for car seats as well as other accessories for children.

To find a car seat on eBay, simply enter the appropriate search term in the search box on any eBay page. For example, enter 'booster seat' to find seats intended for older children, or simply 'car seat' to browse through all of the related options. You can then refine the search by price, brand, type, and even colour. These options make it easy to narrow down the search to just the seats you might be interested in.

With any online transaction, it is important to get to know the seller's history. On eBay, this is as easy as clicking on the seller's name or feedback score. You can then browse through the seller's feedback from previous buyers. eBay's Top-Rated Sellers are those which have an award icon next to their names. These sellers have earned a mark of distinction with their commitment to customer service. Regardless of the seller, make sure to read the entire listing carefully, look at all pictures, and check the return policy if there is one.

Conclusion

A car seat is without a doubt the most important accessory to have when travelling with babies or children. It is also one item that is important to buy new, and one that is worth spending a little more money on. Car seats save children's lives every day, especially since adult safety devices such as seatbelts and airbags can actually be a hazard to children. Car seats come in various sizes and specifications depending on the size of the child. Choosing the correct one to begin with, or upgrading to the next size when the time comes, is important since the effectiveness of the seat depends on the correct fit.

There are a few variations on the basic child seat, like booster seats and carrycots, and two main attachment systems. However, regardless of these options, all car seats should pass Regulation 44/04 to ensure the quality of protection the seat provides. Shopping for car seats on eBay, the world's leading marketplace, makes it easy to find the perfect seat at a great price, all from the comfort of one's home.

Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides