Is a used carseat safe? Maybe. Maybe Not.
There is nothing inherently wrong with a used child safety seat. The main concern is if you don’t know the history, then it is possible it may have been in a crash or damaged in some way. It may be fine to take a gently used car seat from a family member or good friend. However, buying one used on facebook marketplace or at a second-hand store can be risky. Here are some questions to consider even if you are just borrowing a seat from a friend or relative:
Second-hand Seat Checklist:
- Do you trust the previous owner with the life of your baby?
- Is the seat in good working condition with minimal wear and no missing parts?
- Are you certain that the seat was never in a crash, or otherwise damaged?
- Are you certain that harsh cleaners and/or chemical solvents were never used on the harness webbing?
- Are all parts present and working correctly?
- Are the manual and labels all present?
- Is the seat approved for use in your country?
- If there is a recall on this car seat and if so, has it been resolved?
- Did you check that the car seat is not expired?
- Did you answer “YES” to all the questions and do you feel comfortable that it will protect your baby in a crash?
It should also be fine to sell or pass along your own used car seat to a friend or relative, provided you can answer “YES” to these same questions and know that you’d trust the seat for your own baby. If you aren’t certain about one of the questions, anything is possible. That eBay listing for an “open box” or “like new” car seat may have been a damaged item that was returned, you just never know if you don’t know and trust the previous owner.
While we generally recommend that you buy a new carseat, we understand they can be expensive. We do list models in every budget category in our Recommended Seats Guide. In some areas, local health departments, Safe Kids organizations or other non-profits may distribute free or low-cost car seats to families with limited financial means. We also recognize that a used car seat is very likely to be safer than no car seat at all, but the questions above are still very important to the safety of your child.
If you have any questions about the safety of a used car seat, please contact the manufacturer of the car seat for more guidance.
Here are some additional resources:
Child Passenger Safety advocates are not out to terrify you into buying a new seat when a perfectly good used one is available. We just want to make sure parents and caregivers know how to identify a second-hand car seat that may be safe to use for your most precious cargo.