Buying a Used Car Seat Safely: 5 Considerations

When it comes to car seat safety, buying a used car seat may seem like a no-no. But the truth is, you can find a safe, quality used car seat at a cheaper price so long as you go through the proper safety checks and buy from a trusted seller.

If the car seat hasn’t been in an accident, is not close to expiring, is in good, working condition and is not recalled, you can purchase a used car seat safely. Here’s what to consider before purchasing used. 

Is It Safe To Buy a Used Car Seat? 

Yes, it is safe to purchase a used infant car seat as long as you follow proper safety checks to ensure it’s in safe, working condition. Before buying a secondhand seat, check for things like: 

  • Age of the seat
  • Wear and tear
  • Expiration date
  • Crash history 
  • Recalls
  • If the seat has all its parts
  • If the seller is a trusted source 

For things like crash history, you’ll need to ask the seller for the car seat’s history. For things like expiration date, wear and tear and parts included, you can tell by looking at the seat’s model number and general appearance. If these things are in good condition, you’re most likely safe to purchase the seat. 

The Pros and Cons of Buying a Used Car Seat 

A used child car seat is a good option for the environmentally conscious, but the uncertainty may lead some parents to the store for a new one instead. Let’s dive into the pros and cons of buying a used car seat. 

Pros 

  • Less expensive than buying a new seat
  • Better for the planet by reducing gear waste. If parents resold gear instead of throwing it away, they’d eliminate enough waste to fill 17.3 million trash bags

Cons 

  • Uncertainty around the car seat’s history
  • Quality may have deteriorated over time
  • Older seats will expire faster 

How To Buy a Used Car Seat Safely: Checklist 

Buying a used car seat safely checklist

Safety is a priority in many aspects of parenthood. But when buying a used car seat, it should be top of the list. Run through this checklist before making your purchase. 

Ensure the Car Seat Has Not Been in a Crash 

It’s important to check whether or not a car seat has been in a car crash. The NHTSA has specific guidelines around whether or not a seat is usable after it’s been involved in a severe crash, especially if airbags were deployed. A car accident can affect the integrity and safety of the seat.

You should ask about crash history before purchasing a new car seat. Unfortunately, there’s no way to fully know a seat’s crash history and you’ll have to rely on the honesty of the seller. However, most sellers are parents who know the importance of this information and should give you the seat’s full history. (Tip: a trusted reseller with an extensive quality check process can help vet these items as well.) 

Check the Expiration Date 

It might seem silly that a carton of eggs and a car seat have something in common. But both do come with an expiration date. Car seats expire because, over time, the seat will experience normal wear and tear that will cause it to either not meet current safety standards or have safety features that are outdated compared to newer models. Usually, the lifespan of the seat is 6-10 years after the date of manufacture. 

Check the expiration date (usually on the back of the seat) to see if it’s still in working condition. If the expiration date is within the year and you’ll have to change it out soon anyway, it may be more cost-effective for you to purchase open box instead of buying used and then having to make another purchase soon after. 

Make Sure the Seat Has Not Been Recalled 

Car seat manufacturers will recall their products if they discover a part that is potentially dangerous. You can check if a car seat has been recalled on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website by using the seat’s VIN or model number, which will be on the white sticker or label on the back or bottom of the seat. 

Check The Car Seat Is Not Broken or Missing Parts 

It’s important to make sure you’re buying the whole car seat including all of its original parts. Parts can be lost or broken over time, or replaced with something that better fits the family’s needs (like a family replacing the harness on a combination seat when their child outgrows it). For a seat to work properly, you’ll need all those parts installed.

You should also make sure you have the original owner’s manual for the seat to learn about proper installation and safety. If the seller misplaced the manual, you can sometimes find the full PDF online on the manufacturer’s website. If you can’t find a replacement manual online, you should avoid purchasing the seat. 

Buy From a Trusted Retailer or Friend 

The safest way to make a good decision is to buy from someone you trust—whether that’s a trusted online reseller, a friend or a family member. Trusted sources are more likely to give you an honest look at the seat’s history and vet the seat accordingly. 

At GoodBuy Gear, we only sell car seats that are open box (like new!) and are in clean, working and safe condition. All of our products go through a thorough safety and inspection process and we never sell any recalled items. You can learn more about our safety standards here

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Can You Sell Used Car Seats? 

Yes, you can sell an old infant seat if you’re confident it’s in working condition, it isn’t expired or recalled and hasn’t been in an accident. Before listing your seat for sale, look for the instruction manual, check its expiration date and look to see if it’s been recalled. If it’s far from expiration and is in safe, working condition, you can look into selling it to another family. 

How to Find an Affordable Car Seat 

While finding a secondhand car seat for a fraction of the sale price on Facebook Marketplace may seem like a diamond in the rough, you can’t be certain it’s safe. If it seems too good to be true, that’s usually because it is. And with something like car seat safety, it isn’t worth the risk. 

However, there are still great options for finding affordable, used car seats that you can trust. Shopping open box from retailers like us can help you score a car seat that is like-new, quality-checked and still helps you save money. It’s a win, win. 

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