How to purchase a used baby car seat

Having a new baby can be expensive, even before the baby is born.

Consider safety first when buying a used baby car seat


You spend so much on clothing, diapers, toys, and other gear as you prepare for your little one’s arrival. Luckily, you can buy many of these items used from garage sales, thrift stores, friends with older children, and on websites like Kijiji. This is a smart way to save money. However, with some items, like car seats, there are things to keep in mind to ensure the gear is safe.

Crash History

When possible, ask about the history of the car seat. If it has ever been in a car crash or damaged in any way, it may not be safe for continued use. Most car seat manufacturers suggest throwing any seat involved in even a minor car accident away. If you buy the seat from a friend or relative, or even from someone selling it online or at a garage sale, you can ask about the history. But if you buy it from a thrift shop, there is usually no way to know about the usage history. If you see cracks or loose parts, these are good indicators of a previous accident, and a sign that you should pass on the seat.



Another important factor to consider is the age of the car seat. Manufacturers are always developing new technologies to make car seats safer and more reliable, so an older model may meet current safety standards. If the seller cannot guarantee the age, you may need to do a little extra research. In some cases, you can tell how old it is just by looking at it. Many companies put an imprint or sticker on their car seats, indicating the date it was made or the date after which you should no longer use it. Some companies even have hot lines you can call to ask about the age of a seat by providing specific model details. As a general rule, car seat manufacturers suggest no longer using a seat six years beyond the date of manufacture.


Before buying any car seat, new or used, you will want to make sure it has not been recalled. Transport Canada is a reliable source for public notices about seats with defective or dangerous parts. You can also contact the manufacturer of the car seat to see if it has been recalled at any point in its history.

Instruction Manuals

If possible, try and ask the owner if they have a user manual.  This is important for correct installation of the car seat and to ensure that all the parts you need are there.  If the original manual cannot be obtained, ensure that you can find one online or by calling the manufacturer.   For added security, there are many free clinics and paid professional car seat installation services that you can bring your car seat too.


Overall Condition

Finally, it only makes sense that you would not want to buy a car seat that is in poor condition. If it is missing parts, has broken parts, or looks worn, it is probably not going to keep your baby safe in your vehicle. It is best to buy a seat that comes with its original labels and instruction manuals so that you can familiarize yourself with the seat and how to use it. Remember, your child’s safety is the most important thing to consider when shopping for a car seat. If the condition of a seat makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, do not buy it no matter how great the deal is.


Do you have any other tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!

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