Many parents are offered second hand car seats, or buy them because they feel they can’t afford a brand new one. We get it. And because it is really important parents get things right with car-seats, we've compiled these tips to help you ensure your child's safety if you are buying a car seat second hand.
1. When buying a second hand car seat, make sure you know the car seat’s expiry date
Car seats come with a “use by” from the manufacturer. Sometimes this runs from the date of the original purchase, and sometimes this runs from the date of manufacture. Some are as long as 10 years while others last only 5.
The reason there are expiry dates, is because the plastics and other components in the seat will degrade over time. The reason they differ, is because car seat manufacturers use different materials to one another. Some are of a lower quality than others.
To ensure your child’s safety, and to save you any future hassles, make sure you know when the seat expires before you buy it so that you can check your baby will be able to actually use it for as long as he or she needs to.
Where can you find a car seat's expiry date?
You can usually find this information on the car seat itself, on a sticker. The owner’s manual will also provide guidance.
2. Inspect second hand car seats for signs of damage or deterioration, or missing parts, before purchase
The obvious signs to look for are:
- any cracks or dis-colouration in the plastic
- fraying of the harness straps
- rusted metal parts
- mould on the harness straps.
If you find any of these things: do not buy.
Also check that the car seat has all the bits and bobs needed to work. For example, some car seats require a stablising bar when in the rear-facing position. If your car seat needs this and it’s missing, then you have a problem. Similarly, some seats will need chest clips. If your seat is missing the clip, it will not perform as it should in an accident.
Which leads us on to tip number 3...
3. Ask for the manual
The car seat will have originally come with an owner's manual. You need this. You need it so you can check that you have all the bits and bobs, and for instructions for installation.
Some car seat manuals are online which makes life a bit easier, however you must double check that the manual you refer to covers the make, model, and year, of the car seat you buy. This is because car seat manufacturers are always pushing themselves to come up with new models of seats. Today's models are not usually the same as previous years.
4. Check the car seat’s history and make sure it has not been in an accident.
The thing about car seats is that, once they have been involved in a car accident, they are no longer safe for use. Car seats that have been involved in an accident really need to be destroyed and/or recycled.
Ask the seller (or donee) what the car seat’s history is. Are they the first owner? Can they assure you that this seat has not been in a car that’s been involved in an accident?
In general we would recommend only buying from the first owner. Second hand car seats are one thing, but third hand car seats just increase your risks.
5. Check that the car seat complies with a legal standard
There are three main legal standards in New Zealand. Your car seat must comply to one of these standards in order to be legal for use in New Zealand. Complying to an out-dated, or other international standard, is not good enough.
What are the legal standards for car seats in New Zealand?
The first is the Australian/New Zealand standard AS/NZ 1754. Usually a red and white sticker indicates that the car seat complies with this standard. Common features include:
- an upper tether strap which is used both rear and forward facing,
- a stablising bar for rear facing use,
- a 6 point harness, and
- a buckle where the buckle tongues can be inserted separately.
Then there’s the American standard, FMVSS 213. If this is safe to use in New Zealand, there will be a ‘S’ standard marking – typically a yellow sticker. American car seats will have:
- a chest clip or harness tie,
- a 5 point harness,
- and an upper tether which is used when forward facing.
- Like New Zealand / Australian seats, buckle tongues are inserted separately.
Finally, there are European seats approved for use in New Zealand. These are identified by an E sticker. The number after the E tells you which country it’s from. These seats usually have a 3 or 5 point harness and may not have a tether strap. The buckle tongues need to be inserted together.
We hope this helps!
We hope these tips help assure you that your second hand car seat is safe to use. Good on you for sorting your little one out with a car seat. However, if you have any doubts whatsoever, please do check with a Child Restraint Technician.
For total peace of mind, you could also consider purchasing a new car seat or hiring a car seat from a reputable company. Yes, it is an expense, but there are actually some really great options that won’t break the bank, like...
✔️ Hiring a car seat
✔️ WINZ quotes
✔️ Or purchasing an ex-rental car seat
Call us today on 04 298 6404 if you’d like to discuss what’s possible.