This article was reviewed by Amanda Brown, CPST.
When it comes to car seat safety, buying a used car seat (whether an infant car seat, convertible car seat or booster seat) may seem like a no-no. But the truth is, you can find a quality gently 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 a vehicle motor crash, is not close to expiring, is in good, working condition and is not recalled, you can purchase a gently used car seat confidently. Here’s what to consider before purchasing used.
Is It OK To Buy a Used Car Seat?
You can purchase a used car seat confidently as long as you follow proper safety checks to ensure it’s in good, working condition. Before buying a secondhand seat, check for things like:
- Age of the seat
- Wear and tear
- Expiration date
- Crash history
- If the seat has all its parts
- If the seller is a trusted source
For things like vehicle motor 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 OK to purchase the used seat.
At GoodBuy Gear, we only sell gently used car seats that have passed our GoodBuy™ Car Seat Safety Check. In addition to our standard quality checks, we worked with a car seat design, engineering and safety consultant over an extensive 12-month research and testing period to create a proprietary 30-point safety inspection process for gently used car seats. Our Director of Customer Care, Amanda Brown, who is also a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) oversees our GoodBuy™ Car Seat Safety Check process, which is performed by GoodBuy Gear certified technicians on every gently used car seat before it is listed for resale. Learn more about the GoodBuy™ Car Seat Safety Check here.
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.
- 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
- Makes quality car seats accessible for more families
- 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: Checklist
Safety is important in many aspects of parenthood. But when buying a used car seat, it’s at the 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 motor vehicle crash can affect the integrity of the seat.
You should ask about crash history before purchasing a gently used 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, like us, with an extensive quality check process can help better vet these items. On top of our quality check process, we have all sellers sign a legally binding attestation certifying they’re the original owner and that it has never been in a crash. That way, you can shop gently used car seats with more confidence.
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 six to 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 new or open box instead of buying used and then having to make another purchase soon after.
Note: All car seats accepted for resale at GoodBuy Gear must be more than two years from expiration.
Make Sure the Seat Has Not Been Recalled
Car seat manufacturers will recall their products if they discover a part that is potentially dangerous or unsafe. 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.
Note: At GoodBuy Gear, we closely monitor for recalls and ensure all gently used car seats accepted for resale have not been recalled.
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 of the proper parts installs according to the car seat manual.
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 usually 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.
As a part of our GoodBuy™ Car Seat Safety check, we check that all necessary parts and labels are present according to the car seat manual.
Buy From a Trusted Retailer or Friend
The best 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.
On top of selling open box car seats, we also offer a safer way for parents to shop gently used car seats with confidence. That’s why we created the GoodBuy™ Car Seat Safety Check—to give parents who are interested in purchasing gently used car seats access to the top brands for less, while reducing gear waste.You can learn more about our safety standards here and our proprietary 30-point safety check here.
Can You Sell Used Car Seats?
Yes, you can sell a gently used infant seat if you’re confident it’s in working condition, it isn’t expired or recalled and hasn’t been in a crash. 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.
Want to sell your gently used car seat with us? Read our guide to selling a used car seat to learn if yours qualifies for resale.
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.
The resale market that exists today for used car seats in particular is lacking the transparency and accountability required for parents to confidently make choices that work for their family. That’s why we created the GoodBuy™ Car Seat Safety Check—to give parents who are interested in purchasing gently used car seats access to the top brands for less.
We respect that gently used car seats aren’t for everyone, which is why we also sell new and open box car seats at higher, but still discounted, prices. 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.
Want to learn more about our proprietary GoodBuy ™ Car Seat Safety Check process? Click here: https://goodbuygear.com/pages/gently-used-car-seats
Have questions about your specific car seat? Book an appointment with a CPST through Tot Squad to get the professional help you need.