Secondhand Car Seats
Secondhand car seats
Secondhand, "previously used or owned by another; "bought a secondhand (or used) car", Source: Define: Google
People often ask why they cannot use a secondhand seat. The answer is not that a secondhand seat cannot be used, more rather that the buyer needs to take extra caution when purchasing a secondhand car seat.
It is important that you either know the history of the seat, or trust the person you purchase the seat from. A seat that has been involved in an accident may not show signs of damage and sadly not every one is honest about their seats history.
Secondhand car seats may have parts missing and might not meet current safety standards, even though your child seat may still have a standards sticker attached.
Seats made in the 80's can may have the sticker attached, but standards have changed dramatically since then.
Always check that the seat is in working order before buying - this includes checking for:
- The manufacture date
If the seat is over 10 years old from the manufacture date DO NOT buy it.
Some seats have a limited life span of 5 - 8 years, these seats will have a "Do not use after" date marked on the seat shell. ALWAYS go by this date, not the date of purchase. If you suspect the dates have been changed, do not buy it.
Expiry dates are either found on stickers or stamped into the plastic, if the sticker has been removed use this table as a guide.
Manufacture dates can be seen as a clock somewhere on the seat shell, in the event of a "missing" manufacture date sticker.
Cannot find the date? DO NOT buy it.
- A standards sticker
This confirms that when the seat was made and sold it meet current safety standards. If the seat is over 10 years old (or 5-8 years old, for limited life span seats) the standards may no longer be current. A minor change could mean a lot when it comes to child safety.
The seat needs to display either,
UK ECE 44.03 - Orange or red sticker with an "E" and a number in a circle
AS/NZS 1754 - Red and white sticker with "5 ticks"
NZS 1754 - a black and yellow "S" mark safety standards sticker.
If your seat does not display either of these marks, then it does not meet legal standards for sale in New Zealand.
Seats with the British kite mark standard will expire by the end of 2008 and should not be bought or used after this time.
No sticker? DO NOT buy it.
- An instruction booklet
Car seats need to be installed correctly, failure to do so could result in serious injury or death.
All seats have a different set of instructions and should be installed according to the manufacturers instructions.
No instruction manual? Can you find the "right" manual online? If not, DO NOT buy it.
- A complete set of fittings
This refers to coming with everything the seat was sold with. It includes the instruction manual, locking clip, padded inserts, tether bolt, harness straps, the cover and any other accessories as supplied by the manufacturer. Without the fittings your child may be subject to injury or death due to misuse.
Missing parts? Can you buy replacements? If the seat has expired you will not be able to buy replacements from the manufacturer or retailer for that seat. It is not recommended to use parts from other car seats or for other brands.
Cannot buy replacements? DO NOT buy it.
- Known history
Do you really know where that seat has been and how it has been stored? Do you know if it has been in an accident or not? Can you tell if the straps have been washed in bleach, or wiped up after a spill? The seat may have invisible stress fractures that might give way if you and your child are in an accident.
Do not know the history? DO NOT buy it.
- Obvious damage
White stress marks -like those that appear when you twist a milk bottle - may identify a car seat that has been in an accident or mistreated.
Cracks and splits anywhere on the shell are a clue to excessive force, including force from an accident. This includes damage to polystyrene booster seats, do not ignore cracks or completely damaged pieces.
Torn or frayed harness webbing and tether strapping, also identify excessive force or ill-treatment.
Excessive sun fading - lets face it, any item left sitting in the sun all day, everyday becomes brittle and weak with time. Car seats do weaken in direct sunlight. An extremely faded cover is an example of this.
Moldy straps - Vomit, sweet treats and drinks can cause damage to seat webbing and weaken the fibres. Some people will try to remove this mold with bleach, or similar harsh chemicals, this will also weaken the webbing fibre.
Obvious damage? DO NOT buy it.
Buying secondhand car seats online - Trade Me and similar sites
Trade Me state that "you do not have to complete a sale where the item is not as described or the trader has mislead you". If there are issues with the seat do not buy it just because you have made the bid. It's better to receive negative feedback than to spend time in hospital as your child recovers as the result of an unsafe car seat.
Always ask questions on the auction.
Community watch (found at the bottom of all auctions) or reportany car seat auctions you feel breech safety standards, or may pose a risk to any child using it.