I recently read an article telling not to buy second hand carseats. I feel this is short-sighted as many of us simply do not have the money to do this when there are perfectly good carseats out there. Some of us annot afford to spend thousands on a car. We may be able to afford a better quality carseat by buying used ones, or perhaps the only seat that fits your car (such as my sedona) is not in production any more. The key factor to note is the best way of buying a used carseat is to buy from someone you know and trust. Someone who cares as much about the safety of your child, as you do.
I am a mother of four, not an expert in carseats.
There are many reasons why someone should sell a perfectly good carseat
- Their child may have grown out of it.
- They may have upgraded their car and now it doesn't fit
- Grandparents/childminders often have a second carseat of no use too.
There are also reasons why not to buy a used carseat
- it may have been involved in an RTA
- it may have been dropped or damaged
- it may bee too old and not comform with modern safety standards
It is important to check the appearance of the carseat, but even a clean, crack-free, solid-looking carseat can disguise structural damage caused in a crash.
Tips for buying used carseat
- Do your homework and research the carseat. Read positive and negative reviews, check your car manufacturer to see which carseats fit or check carseat manufacturers websites for lists of cars that their ranges fit. Look for alternative routings of seatbelts if you as struggling to find a carseat to fit your car.
- Try not to buy a carseat which is over 5 years old. It may be that you have to if your car is older and you can't get a good fit with modern seats. NEVER BUY a carseat which is over 10 yrs old. (this is being very generous &may be out of date)
- Check for British standard/safety numbers. Check current websites to make sure they are still valid.
- look for signs of general wear and tear - scuffing on the base is pretty standard. Scuffing on the slots where the seatbelt slides in through the back may indicate that the seat has not been secured properly in the car.
- Check that the clips grip the seatbelt properly and the seatbelt clicks easily. Also check how easy it is for a child to undo. It may have become too easy over time.
- Give the straps a good sharp tug to test the buckle.
- check the straps are mould-free, smooth and have no wear. You can often get replacement straps from manufacturers, but this costs almost as much as a used seat - you have to pay return postage of the entire carseat as they replace the buckle too.
- Give it a little shake and listen for any loose items inside the plastic base. Sometimes toys can get lost and jam in the worst places!
- Check seat padding under the cover. This is often polystyrene foam which may have been damaged.
- Inspect the carseat cover making sure all the elastic ensures a good fit. Staining or minimal tears are commesurate with age, and are of little consequence, but fit is important to ensure all straps work smoothly in the event of an accident.
- Make sure you TEST the seat IN YOUR CAR before buying with your child in it. Get the owner to fit it for you then check it yourself. Does it move in the seat? Can you tilt it forward? Does it move with your child in it? Can your child get his arms out? Read fitting guides for more information and check the fitting in your car.
- BUY FROM SOMEONE YOU KNOW AND TRUST
As I said, I am not an expert. I have had over 7 carseats with my four children and often struggled to fit a carseat in a car.
One thing I DO know is not to do is take a baby or child out of a rear-facing seat and into front-facing. We are often in a hurry to advance our children on..but the weight of their heads falling forwards is a strain on their necks and backs and often results in stretching of the spinal cord.
Swedish and Norwegian children travel backwards (legs crossed) until the age of four. It looks strange to us, but the children are safer in the event of a collision.
So try and find a seat that will still seat your child rearfacing yet give them a little more room to move. There are many on the market out there new and used. When they are too heavy they can be switched forward-facing.
I hope this guide was helpful.