What to Do with A Crashed Seat


Uh oh. You’ve just had wreck in your car and your carseats were in there too. Perhaps your kids were buckled in safely and everyone is OK. Now what do you do? Are you aware that some crashed seats shouldn’t be used again, even if it was a minor fender bender? Each manufacturer has a guideline for you to follow regarding carseats involved in crashes and you may have two seats in your vehicle with two different guidelines. CarseatBlog.com is here to help sort out these confusing times for you!

Each manufacturer has a different manufacturing process for their carseats, whether it’s the way the seats are constructed or the properties of the plastics used. Some carseats have energy management features in them and once the seat has been in a crash, those features no longer work to provide the proper protection for your child. While it’s OK to use a crashed seat to leave the scene of the crash (assuming the carseat isn’t visibly broken), if the manufacturer says the carseat shouldn’t be used again, it shouldn’t be used again. If you are unclear as to whether or not you should replace your seat, always contact the manufacturer. They’re the ones that know their carseats best. The number is on the side of the carseat or on their website, which can be Googled.

Two states, California (CA Insurance Code Section 11580.01) and Illinois (215 ILCS 5/143.32), currently require insurance companies to replace carseats after a crash, though the seats must have been occupied during the crash in Illinois. In California, the carseats don’t need to be occupied to be considered for replacement. By presenting manufacturer crash replacement guidelines to your insurance company, you may be able to have your seats covered by insurance, especially if the other driver was at fault.

If your insurance company doesn’t want the crashed carseat, you should dispose of it in your garbage or find a recycling program that will take it. To dispose of the seat, cut the harness straps and write “Danger, crashed carseat, DO NOT USE” on it in permanent marker. Place the carseat in a black garbage bag and the harness in a separate bag. The cover is OK to keep and reuse if you buy the same carseat again! Bonus points to you if you can destroy the carseat in any way using a saw or blowtorch ;).

Thanks to Jeanum, one of our wonderful moderators at car-seat.org, a lot of the background work has been done for me. Here’s a list of the most popular carseat manufacturers and their guidelines for replacement after a crash.

Baby Trend


Discontinue using the carseat and contact the Baby Trend customer service department at 800-328-7363.



Discontinue using the carseat after a moderate to severe crash. How can you determine what is a minor crash vs. a moderate to severe crash? Britax follows the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) guidelines for a minor crash:

Minor crashes are those that meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • The vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash site;
  • The vehicle door nearest the safety seat was undamaged;
  • There were no injuries to any of the vehicle occupants;
  • The air bags (if present) did not deploy; AND
  • There is no visible damage to the safety seat




Replace carseat after a crash.



Discontinue using the booster seat after a crash.



Discontinue using the carseat after a moderate to severe crash. Combi follows the NHTSA guidelines for a minor crash.



Discontinue using the carseat after a crash.

Dorel (Cosco, Eddie Bauer, Safety 1st)


Discontinue using the carseat after a crash.



Discontinue using the carseat after a crash.



Discontinue using the carseat after a crash.



Replace carseat after a crash.

Learning Curve/The First Years


Discontinue using the carseat after a crash.



Discontinue using the carseat after a severe crash. For minor collisions, Recaro follows the NHTSA guidelines.

Safe Traffic System, Inc. (RideSafer Travel Vest)


Discontinue using vest after a moderate to severe crash. Safe Traffic System, Inc. follows the NHTSA guidelines for a minor crash.

Sunshine Kids


Sunshine Kids follows the NHTSA guidelines for a minor crash. They also have a crash exchange program for occupied carseats that have been in severe crashes.



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