There are three main reasons for replacing car seats.
When was the last time you measured or weighed your child? It’s important to know your child’s weight and height because car seats are designed to fit children up to a specific limit. And children grow fast so it’s easy to miss the moment when your child reaches the allowed maximum limit of your car seat. Find out more about why weight and height are so important in this blog post.
For post-accident usage and expiration dates of your car seat please remember that user manuals take precedence over any other recommendations or guidelines provided by institutions or experts dealing with child car safety.
Once you are familiar with your user manual, here are some main points to consider when replacing car seats:
- It is widely accepted that car seats should be replaced after a crash no matter if the child was in it or if it was empty at the time of the accident (some argue that a small collision is nothing to worry about; read this post to find out why you should replace it anyway)
- It is not recommended to buy second-hand car seats for this exact reason. You simply don’t know whether a car seat has been in a crash or not or if it’s been mishandled. Additionally, wear and tear is difficult to tell in car seats. You are safer buying a new car seat.
- Don’t be fooled by how a car seat looks. Remember that car seats which look perfectly fine can have damage which is invisible to the naked eye and thus not perform in a crash. For example, plastic elements might have been weakened in a previous accident or by heat during multiple summers or styrofoam could have been cracked.
- Car seats expire. Most car seat manufacturers recommend that you stop using a car seat once it reaches a certain age due to wear and tear of the materials used in car seats. Click here to see some examples of car seat expiration dates.
In summary, there are three main reasons for replacing a car seat. The first reason, when a car seat has been outgrown, requires you to stay on top of your child’s weight and height. The second reason, a car crash, is a definite cause to replace your car seat. Finally, the third reason is a car seat’s expiration date which can be found in the user manual or relevant sticker on the car seat itself. If in doubt, always contact the manufacturer to ask any questions.
Once you are ready to start looking for a new car seat use the free Car Seat Jungle Search Tool to help you navigate through the choices of car seats available to you.