It is important to check a used car seat or booster seat carefully. The following checklist will help you decide if the seat will provide your child with proper protection in a crash.
A “No” answer tells you that the seat may not be a safe choice.
Eventually, a car seat’s plastic weakens because of exposure to sunlight and changes in temperature. Restraint manufacturers put an expiry date on their products or in their instructions. These dates are 6 to 12 years after the date of manufacture or date of purchase, depending on the model. Do not use a car seat or booster if it is past the expiry date.
Each child safety seat sold in Canada must have a label saying that it meets Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (CMVSS).
New Standards came into effect in Canada on January 1, 2012. It is illegal to sell, loan, rent or give away a seat that does not comply with the new Standard. Many seats made prior to this date do meet this new Standard.
If the car seat has a date of manufacture before January 1, 2012, contact the company to check if it does comply with the new Standard. Only seats that meet CMVSS are legal for use in Canada.
Many car seats and boosters have had a recall or warning. You can call the manufacturer to find out if there has been a recall on the seat. You should have the make, model number and date of manufacture ready when you call.
Ask the previous owner if the seat has ever been in a crash. If it has been in a crash, whether or not a child was in it, it should not be used. The seat may not provide adequate protection if it were in another collision. It’s best not to use a car seat, if you don’t know the history.
The seat’s instruction manual provides detailed, illustrated information on how to correctly use and install the seat. Without it, errors may be made which could threaten your child’s safety. The labels on the seat itself do not cover everything that you need to know in order to use the seat properly. Don’t depend on information from the previous owner – he or she might have been using the seat incorrectly. You can get a copy of the instructions from the manufacturer.
The condition of the seat is very important. The following signs show that the seat may not provide your child with proper protection in a crash.
Cracks, chips and any white, or grey patches, or lines in the shell.
Rust on metal components.
Cuts, frayed edges or broken stitches in the harness, UAS or tether straps.
Tears in the padding.
The instructions to check for missing parts.
Check the weight and height limits of the car seat or booster to be sure that it is appropriate for your child. Make sure that the seat is O.K. for your child’s Stage, i.e. Rear-facing, Forward-facing, or Booster.
Try the seat in the back seat of your vehicle before you purchase it. If it is an Infant/Child seat or Infant/Child/Booster seat, test it in both its rear- and forward-facing positions.
Take apart seats that are no longer safe to use. A discarded restraint that is left intact at the curb may be picked up and used by someone else.
Remove the padding. Cut up any straps such as the UAS, harness and tether straps. These should be disposed of separately from the shell. Blackout the serial number and manufacture date, and write “trash, do not use” on the shell.
Check for any recycling programs in your area that you can use. If there aren’t any, put the shell in a plastic bag and put it out with the regular garbage.