Some used seats may have no safety problems, especially if they are fairly new and have had only one user. However, any used seat may have multiple problems and must be checked carefully before use. Here are some questions to ask regarding a used seat:
- Has the seat been in a crash?
If so, it should not be used again and should be destroyed. Possible unseen damage may make it less effective in a second crash.
- Does it have a label stating that it meets all Federal safety standards and a sticker with the manufacture date (after January 1, 1981) and model number?
Without these, you cannot be sure if it has ever been recalled. Most child passenger safety educators advise against using a child safety seat that is more than 10 years old. There have been many improvements in ease of use during that time. Older seats may have suffered from exposure to heat, sunlight, or severe cold over the years. It is impossible to know the effect of this exposure.
- Does the child safety seat have all its parts and its instruction booklet?
The label instructions may not be complete or adequate.
- What is its general condition and structural integrity?
Inspect the frame, shell, and harness straps. It is possible to replace pads and straps.
- Has it been recalled?
You need the model number and date of manufacture for this. You can find recall information by calling the NHTSA Auto Safety Hotline at 800-424-9393.
For more information about the proper use of child safety seats, visit the following websites: