Used Car Seats – Yay or Nay?

used car seats

Buying a used car seats or being gifted one might seem like a great alternative to the cost of a new seat, however they do come with some very real concerns and possible dangers. If you are considering a used car seat, there are a few things to know.

First things first…

don’t worry if you can’t afford a $400 seat…

That’s not a problem, I can’t either! And for the most part, you don’t really need one. There are some great versatile seats that are long lasting that can be found for $75-$150, in fact, that’s what I use. Price does not determine a car seat’s safety nor does it make one safer than the other, if you would like to read more about that, check out my post on buying a car seat.

I actually had a sense of guilt about this when I was shopping for my daughters car seat a few years back because I couldn’t afford “the best” or “the fanciest”. That feeling quickly went away when I learned that there was no “best” and I chose the seat that fit my child, my budget, our vehicle and that I learned to install and use properly. So if you are feeling any of that guilt or are upset that you can’t afford that high priced seat, get that out of your mind right now! 

With that in mind, if you are still considering a used seat, use the following checklist to help determine if the used car seat may be safe to use.


used car seat checklist

This checklist was provided by the Child Passenger Safety Association of Canada

1. Do you know the complete history of this seat? If yes, continue. If no, DESTROY.

2. Does the seat have a label or sticker with the date of manufacture, model name, and model number? If yes, continue. If no, DESTROY.

3. Is the seat expired? Check stickers for expiry dates, or raised lettering in the plastic for an expiry date. Contact the manufacturer if in doubt. If yes, DESTROY. If no, continue.

4. Does the seat have a sticker with the National Safety Mark (circular sticker with maple leaf in the centre)? If yes, continue. If no, DESTROY.

5. Is the seat subject to a public notice (recall), or consumer information notice? If yes, continue to

5b. If no, continue to 6.

5b. Has the defect been corrected? If yes, continue to 6. If no, do not use until defect is corrected, or DESTROY.

6. Has the seat been involved in ANY crash, even a fender bender, whether it was occupied or not? If yes, confirm with manufacturer whether it must be destroyed, and then DESTROY if needed. If no, continue.

7. Has the harness or adjuster strap been washed in the washing machine, submerged in water, or sprayed with any cleaner? If yes, obtain new parts. If no, continue.

8. Are there any cracks, bends, breaks, or signs of stress or wear on the plastic shell? If yes, DESTROY. If no, continue.

9. Has the metal frame (if present) rusted, bent, or broken? If yes, DESTROY. If no, continue.

10. Is a copy of the manufacturer’s instruction manual present? If yes, continue. If no, do not use until a copy has been obtained.

11. Does the seat have all its parts (cover, harness, chest clip, crotch buckle, screws, arm rests, etc.)? If yes, continue. If no, obtain replacement parts or DESTROY.

12. Are the harness straps or adjuster strap worn or frayed? If yes, obtain replacement parts or DESTROY. If no, continue.

13. Do any metal parts show signs of rust or corrosion? If yes, obtain replacement parts or DESTROY. If no, continue.

14. When buckled, does the mechanism lock securely, and remain locked? Does the harness tighten and loosen properly? If yes, continue. If no, DESTROY.

15. Do you trust the person answering these questions with your child’s life – are they truthful? If yes, USE THE SEAT!



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