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

Since, 1 May 2015, South African law has stated 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). The question you should, in fact, ask yourself is: how safe is it to buy a second-hand car seat? Buying a second-hand car seat isn’t as straightforward and convenient as buying a new car seat. However, 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 your child shouldn’t enjoy 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:

  • Make sure the seat is not expired. 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 5 years. The seat’s expiry date should be clearly labelled by the manufacturer, along with the model number and date of manufacture.
  • Investigate whether the seat has been in an accident. Confirm with whomever you are buying the seat from that it 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 – so make sure to check with your manufacturer about this.
  • 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.
  • Make sure that all parts are present and correct. Request the owner’s manual that came with the original purchase of the car seat. Ensure 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 their head reaches the top of their 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.

Your little one may not particularly want to be strapped up, but teach them about the importance of being in a car seat and make sure you have your safety belt on as well. It’s just as important to make them develop a habit of getting into their car seat so that when they’re driving in a different car and you aren’t present, they’ll remember to buckle up.


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