Taking Candy from Strangers – Why Buying a Used Car Seat is a Bad Idea

As parents the costs of having kids, especially that first outlay of cash for bringing home baby is frankly overwhelming at times.  And the longer you have them the more expensive they keep getting. Clothes get outgrown, sometimes before they even make it on to their little wiggly bodies, bottles you thought would be just perfect they hate and you buy still more.  Books get destroyed, toys outgrown etc.  And so you start to look at used items because you quickly realize that half this stuff never even got used chances are it’s in great condition and it’ll save you a fortune in the process. It’s like you hit gold when you find a awesome buy/sell/trade board right?  However there’s one thing you should NEVER, EVER, EVER buy used. Your car seats.  Why?  Because no matter how much you save it’s not worth not knowing if that car seat will actually save you’re kids in an accident.
We tell our kids “Never take candy from strangers.” We say this because we have no idea what that person’s ulterior motives might be for giving our kids candy.  Do they want to hurt them, do they want to take them, are they just some harmless old person, who knows right?  And yet all too often I see parents tempted into doing exactly that with car seats.  They see a sweet deal on a seat that normally retails for 200-400 bucks for just 50 dollars and say “Well heck yes!  Why not??”  They see the sweets but they don’t see the hidden danger that can be there as well.
What do I mean about hidden danger?  Well car seats are designed to protect your child in a crash right?  But if a car seat has already been in a crash it’s done it’s job and should be destroyed.  Most car seats when they are pulled out of a car accident look completely fine.  But they’re not.  The impact foams have compressed, the plastics may have microscopic cracks in them and the harnesses, tethers and ISOFIX mechanisms have been stretched/strained already.  In a nutshell…they’ve already done their job.  They may not be able to do it twice. Do you really want to put your kid in it to test if it can survive another crash?  I don’t.
The problem with buying a used seat is you don’t know it’s history.  You don’t know if that person was in a massive crash or not.  You don’t know if they picked it up off curbside pick up day and thus have zero clue why it as on the curb.  That is actually a REALLY common practice on many of the B/S/T boards, there are people who I kid you not make a living of picking up old car seats off the curb and then reselling them.  Even if the cover is missing or dirty or if the straps are cut they will go purchase new ones cheap and pop them onto the seat and resell it for 100-200 bucks.  But again they have zero clue WHY that seat was on the curb in the first place. Meaning they could unwittingly be selling you a death trap.  There was a story on one of my seat safety boards recently of a mum who was in a serious car destroying accident.  The car seat was waiting to go out to curbside pick up and before she could write Dangerous Do NOT Use all over it in permanent marker her husband tossed it out.  Within hours it was gone. Someone had picked it up to use or resell.  She frantically took to all the local B/S/T boards and begged for it’s return and explained it was NOT safe to use and needed to be destroyed.  Thankfully someone dropped it off the next day.  Had that not happened some poor parent would have un-knowningly put their kid into a seat that likely would not do it’s job in the next accident.
If you are tight on funds or really want to source a used seat how can you SAFELY do so?  Ask your friends and family.  Only ask people you know will be completely honest about a seat’s history.  Otherwise don’t be tempted by the candy, it’s just not worth it.   And if you do get a used seat make sure you check the dials/manufactures stickers to see that it’s not more than 10 years old.  Older than that and you really need to say thanks but no thanks since that seat has reached the end of it’s useful lifespan.  But more on that another day.  Anyway make sure it’s less than 10 years old AND make sure you get a copy of the owners manual.  If the person doesn’t have one go online and download it from the manufactures website.  Lastly make sure the seat is an AU approved car seat.  It shouldn’t be from Europe or the US those seats have not been tested to AU standards and are illegal for use here, many for good reason, they just aren’t as safe.  All AU approved seats have a sticker on them that clearly states they are approved for use in Australia otherwise, no sticker, no use.
Kids are expensive, and there are so many ways to cut costs and to reduce, reuse and recycle items within the parenting community but please make sure that you aren’t taking candy from strangers when it comes to your car seats it’s just not worth the risk.
Amber also wrote:
The Great Ocean Road and Kids…Why I Hate Car Trips…

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