Don't buy a second-hand car seat without reading these guidelines!

Since 1 May 2015, South African law states that all children under three-years-old need to be strapped into a car seat when travelling in a car. However, the choice of car seats on the market can be overwhelming – never mind expensive!

You may decide that going the second-hand route is the better choice for you (and your wallet). But how safe is it to buy a second-hand car seat? Buying a second-hand car seat isn’t as straightforward as buying a new car seat, but if you do your research, ask the right questions and know what to look for when you view the car seat, there is no reason another child can’t get many safe and happy travels from a second-hand one.

These tips will help you make an informed and educated decision when buying a second-hand car seat:

  • Do your research! Using the model number of the car seat, ensure that the model you are interested in hasn’t been recalled by the manufacturer. If the person you are buying it from isn’t sure, give the manufacturer a call to make certain.
  • Make sure the seat has not expired. This is usually clearly labelled by the manufacturer on the seat, along with the model number and date of manufacture. It may sound strange to think of a seat expiring, but it’s actually the parts of the seat which can perish, age or wear away. Certain seats may also become obsolete with new safety discoveries. To be safe, you should steer clear of a seat that is older than around 5 years.
  • Make sure the seat has never been in an accident. Confirm with whoever you are buying the seat from that the car seat has not been involved in a collision. Even a minor bumper bashing is a no-go, as the force exerted on it from the collision may have caused damage. Manufacturers offer no guarantees that car seats will work in a second collision and advise against using a car seat that has been involved in one.  However, keep in mind that certain brands, such as Maxi- Cosi or BébéConfort, offer a swap service where, if the seat has been involved in an accident, clients will receive a brand new seat! Certain terms and conditions may apply – make sure to check with your manufacturer.
  • Make sure that all parts are present and correct. Request the owner’s manual that came with the original purchase of the car seat. Make sure the seat is in good working condition – keep an eye out for cracks in the plastic, frayed harnesses or any other damage to the seat.
  • Size matters! The seat should always be the right size for the baby. When your child has grown to such an extent that its head reaches the top of its seat or beyond, the time has come to change to a bigger one.

Just like having comprehensive car insurance is one of the most important financial choices you can make for one of your most valuable assets, having a car seat is one of the most important safety decisions you'll make for your precious child. Be responsible, buckle up and save lives.

Keep an eye out for the next article in our series – where we tell you about the different car seat installation methods and positions. 

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