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Home / Buyer Beware: Should You Buy Car Seats Online?

Buyer Beware: Should You Buy Car Seats Online?

How many of us are in Buy Sell Trade groups on Facebook or Instagram?

I can think of at least four off the top of my head that I’m active in. Most of them are filled with moms who are trying to purge their homes of gently used baby clothes and gear, with the rest of us patiently waiting to snag what they’ve got up for grabs.  Sometimes you can catch a great deal on a barely used swing, some outgrown toys and onesies, and sometimes you’ll see a car seat or two.  But before you purchase a car seat from a stranger, ask yourself: do you trust this person with your baby’s life?

Here are a few reasons why car seats should generally not be purchased second hand.

  • Car seats are safety devices, like helmets, and just like helmets they have to be replaced after a crash.  Even a minor crash can trigger changes to the integrity of the seat, but this isn’t known by a lot of people.  Always ask if the seat was ever in a car at the time of any crash, even a seemingly minor fender bender.
  • Car seats that have been purchased second hand have another kind of unknown history.  Have the straps been submerged in water?  Has the cover been washed according to manufacturer instructions?  Are the federally regulated stickers on the side removed or covered up?  Be sure to get lots of photos, including the sticker with date of manufacture.
  • Most car seats have expiration dates that vary between 6 and 10 years. Plastic starts to break down, new safety updates come to the market, and we learn more and more.  It doesn’t matter if a seat has only been used for one year and stored for 6.  If the seat is expired, it’s dangerous. Watch the video below to see why:


Now, I’m not trying to scare you away from accepting a good friend’s help.  However, it’s incredibly important to keep in mind the things you now know when doing so.  Can you trust that this person has followed every manufacturer recommendation with regards to washing and installation?  If they don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s best to stick to the BST groups for legos and baby clothes.

Author: Dana

Dana is the lucky mother to two incredible kids (aged 10 & 6) and the happy wife of Nate. She stumbled around in her adult life for a while before finally realizing that she could get paid to pursue her passion: keeping kids safe. In 2013 she started working at Modern Natural Baby in Ferndale where she eventually became a Child Passenger Safety Technician with additional Special Needs training. Dana also runs the child passenger safety-focused Facebook page Buckle Up Detroit and works with the amazing lady bosses at Metro Detroit Doula Services offering car seat classes, consultations, and more!