Safety Considerations for Secondhand Car Seats

When considering giving or receiving a used car seat, make sure the car seat:

  • Has a label with the date of manufacture and model number: Without these, the car seat cannot be checked for its expiration date or recalls.
  • Is not too old: Look on the label for the date the car seat was made. Check with the manufacturer to find out how long it recommends using the seat.
  • Is free of visible stress marks: The car seat should not have any visible cracks, bends or breaks in the plastic shell or the metal frame.  It should also be free of rust.
  • Comes with instructions: Instructions are absolutely necessary to ensure proper installation and use of the car seat and to verify that there are not any missing parts.  For help locating instructions, check our Instructions/Manuals and Replacement Parts Index.
  • Includes all parts: Used car seats often come without important parts. If parts are missing, check with the manufacturer to make sure you can get the correct parts.  For help locating parts, check our Instructions/Manuals and Replacement Parts Index.
  • Has not been in a crash: A car seat that has been involved in a crash should not be re-used and should be destroyed.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents avoid using a second-hand car seat if they don’t know the seat’s history.
  • Has not been irreparably recalled: To check for recalls, call the manufacturer or contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Vehicle Safety Hotline at (888) 327-4236.  U.S. recalls can also be viewed online through the NHTSA’s Child Seat Recall Campaign Listing.  Canadian recalls can be viewed on the Recalls and Product Safety Alerts page on the Healthy Canadians website.  Being part of a recall does not necessarily mean that a car seat can no longer be used.  Depending on the recall, the manufacturer may provide a remedy kit that can be installed (or may have already been installed by the previous owner) on the seat to allow for continued safe use.