The Good Egg Car Safety Blog

Second hand car seat danger - Case study 3

Can you spot what is wrong with this car seat?


This blog is going to continue our focus on the dangers of buying a second hand car seat without knowing its history with case study 3.

You can read the rest of the series by clicking the following links:

Introduction to second hand seats

Tips for buyers

Case Study 1

Case Study 2

 

for FB OL

 


This car seat was purchased from a well-known auction site for £10 with local collection; to the eye this seat looks in good condition. The advert claims that it has been kept in the garage and never dropped or involved in an accident.

When our expert collected the seat, the seller was a friendly Dad of 6 and they were selling to make room in the garage. The seller told our expert that he was very concerned about child seat safety; he again assured us that the seat had never been involved in a collision and that he would never sell one that had been.

This is a group 0,1,2 car seat that is used rear facing to start with, and turns forward facing later on.

Our expert has studied this seat closely, and we have found the following causes for concern…

 

Under the cover


The foam protection in this seat is severely damaged and cracked, which greatly reduces the protection the seat can offer.



DAMAGED OL

 

BREAK OL

DAMAGED POLY OL

HARNESS OL

 

This seat has not been well cared for, and the damage to the foam raises concerns over the ability of the seat to provide the protection it should be able to give.

 

The harness


The harness on this seat looked to be fine when our expert collected the seat.  However upon inspection of the seat, it became apparent that the harness has been tampered with!



HARNESS 3 OL

 

Have you spotted what is wrong yet?


The hip straps on this seat have been tampered with, the harness is supposed to be a 5 point harness, with the hip straps attached to the seat. This attachment has been removed at some point in the seats life, leaving the harness only able to restrain the child across the shoulders and crotch strap. This is severe damage to the harness and it would be very dangerous in a collision, the force of an impact would only be spread over the child’s shoulders, and the buckle and harness are unlikely to be able to take the additional strain.



BROKEN HARNESS OL

 

There is also no ECE R44 label on this seat, although we know it is a European seat, we are unable to tell to what approval it was tested.

 

The seller


What struck our expert with this seat however, was the seller. When the seat was collected our expert got chatting to him - he’s a Dad of 6, had come back from taking his family on holiday the day before and works in children’s entertainment and with disabled children. He is an extremely caring individual who actively works to improve children’s lives, yet he sold a child seat that is not only very old, but very dangerous.

A seller of a seat may not be aware the seat they are selling is dangerous and believe that it is safe and a bargain for someone – if the buyer also doesn’t spot these damages, the only time they will find out their seat is dangerous is in a collision.

If you have to buy second hand, only buy from someone who you trust, and that you 100% know the history of the seat, a dangerous car seat may cost them their life.

 

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Second hand car seats – Is this car seat safe?

 

Welcome to Good Egg Safety’s blog series on second hand car seats. We are running a number of blog’s to evaluate if it is safe to buy and use a second hand car seat, and what dangers second hand seats pose to children.

As part of the blog series, our expert has purchased car seats from an online auction site to assess through case studies. We have already released the first case study, which you can read here.

 

Is this seat safe?


SEAT BASE OL

 

To the eye, this seat is in good condition. It also comes with a base and the newborn insert  – this seat and base cost £20 which is far less than the cost of buying new.

However, when our expert inspected this seat, it became apparent that it isn’t as good as it appears to be. We have found problems with the polystyrene protection in the seat, the harness and crotch strap. We also have concerns about the base.

 

 The harness...


Harness OL



The harness looks in good condition at first glance, but on closer inspection, it is severely damaged.


altered straps OL

 

The harness has folded and twisted in the past, beyond being able to use it – the harness has had material stitched to it to straighten it out. This hugely reduces the integrity of the harness, causing serious concern over it’s ability to restrain a child in a collision.

 

 The crotch strap...


damaged strap OL

 

The crotch strap has been tampered with, to the point that it is extremely dangerous. It has torn in the past, and been stitched – this crotch strap would not be able to safely take the force of a collision and restrain a child.

 

 The polystyrene protection...


damaged polystyrene OL

 

When we removed the cover of this seat, we found the polystyrene head support damaged. This seat would be unable to spread the force of a collision as well as a new seat would, and the damage here could also cause head injuries to a child, despite being in the very safest rear facing position.

 

 The base...


The plastic base contains many stress fractures. This base may have been previously involved in a collision, dropped or not very well cared for. The plastic of the base is unlikely to be as strong as needed to adequately protect a child and hold the seat in place in a collision.

 

 Is this seat safe?

 

No.  We would go as far as to term this seat a “death trap”.  It is extremely unlikely to protect a child in a collision and should never have been sold on second hand to the last user of this seat.  The person who last used this seat had no idea it was as dangerous as it is.


Our expert is going to keep this seat and use it in training and demonstrations to highlight the dangers of buying a seat without knowing the history.

 

Have you ever used a second hand car seat, then found problems with it?  We want to hear your experiences!

 


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Second hand child seats - Tips for buying

Welcome to the next installment in our second hand child seat series!  This post is looking at how we can use second hand seats as safely as possible.


Whenever possible, your child's car seat should be purchased as a new product, from a retail store who are able to give you good advice.

In purchasing from a retailer and taking advice, you can be sure the seat you buy is suitable for your child, compatible with your car and you will be shown how to fit the seat.  You will also know that your seat is brand new, and can be confident that the seat will do its job should you be involved in a collision.

Sometimes though, financial hardship can leave no choice but to buy a second hand seat, or a family member or close friend offers you a seat that you know is in perfect condition.  In this situation, what can you do to ensure the seat is used safely?

Our Good Egg Expert has put together 10 things to do before you decide to take a second hand seat!



Tip1



Only buy from family or close friends

Is the seat from someone you would trust with your child's life, such as a close friend or family member? Don't be tempted to buy a seat from a friend or family member to spare their feelings!

Only buy a seat you 100% know the history of - if you have any doubts about a seat, don't use it!



Tip2



How much is the second hand seat?

Can you buy a brand new seat for the price of a second hand seat?  There are many options available, and a benefit of buying new is being able to get advice and seat fitment - check out our blog on top seats for under £100!



Tip3



Find out the make and model of the seat.


What seat is it that you're buying?  Is it a well known brand?  Be aware that there are fake seats out there!



Tip4



Check the ECE approval label:

Does the seat carry an approval label?  A seat must carry a label for R44.03, R44.04 or R129 iSize.



Graco 44.03 OLECE LabelOL
 

Tip5



Check that the seat is suitable for your child

Does the seat accommodate your child's weight and height?  If the seat is forward facing, don't move up until the rear facing seat is fully outgrown!  Our chart will help you find out if the seat is the correct group:



Pic5

 

Tip6



Check the seat will fit your car

Some child seat manufacturers have fitting lists or online fit finders to help you find out what is compatible with your car.  Research what will fit your car - does your car have issues with buckle crunch?  Floor storage boxes or forward anchor point?



Tip7



Research the seat

    • Is the seat still currently available?

 

    • Has there been any recalls on the seat?

 

    • If it isn't available in shops now, why not?

 

    • Is it an old seat that is no longer manufactured?



If the seat is currently available, visit a store to see it close up as a new product - what does it look like new and what items comes with the seat.  Ensure the second hand seat has all parts present and instructions!



Tip8



Inspect the seat

Once you know what the seat looks like new, inspect the second hand seat - is the seat shell plastic, foam protection under the covers and harness in good condition, with no marks, rips, dents or tears?  If the seat shell, foam or harness is damaged in any way - don't use the seat!



Tip9



Are safer seats available?

Check out what your options would be buying new, is a safer seat available, or a seat that is more compatible with your vehicle or easier to fit?



Tip10



Get the fitment checked!

If you decide to take the second hand seat, get the fitment checked at a Good Egg Clinic or with your local road safety team (if they do car seat checking).  We won't be able to confirm your seat is safe without knowing the history, but we can confirm if the seat is fitted and used correctly!


 

 

GE

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Second hand car seats case study 1 - Mama's and Papa's Traveller G-Matic

Welcome to case study 1!


Throughout November we are focusing on the dangers second hand seats pose to children and their families.

We are running four case studies on seats that our expert has bought from an auction wesbite - this installment is going to look at the first seat our expert found, it is a Mama’s and Papa’s Traveller G-Matic.

 

The seller online stated:


"The seat has never been involved in an accident, is in good condition and suitable from 0-6 months."

 

close up OL

 

What are the problems with this seat?



First of all, this seat is old, which we can see from the design of the covers and the frame of the seat.  A seat this old will not offer the protection current seats can, and it is unlikely to pass higher impact testing or side impact testing.

This seat is a group 0 rear facing infant seat, these are rarely made in rear facing mode now.  This means a child could only rear face to 10kg in this seat, where most modern seats allow rear facing to 13kg – up to about 12/15 months old.

 

Is it legal?


The seat has an ECE sticker on the rear, which shows it to be an R44.03 approved seat. This means that the seat can still legally be used, despite it’s age.



ECE R44.03 OL

 

However, R44.03 was released in 1995 - so this seat could be anywhere up to 19 years old!

 

Is it easy to fit?


The fitment of the seat is what we are used to seeing on infant seats nowadays, with the lap belt over the baby’s lap and the chest belt around the back of the seat.



Fitted OL

 

The handle also has to be back on this seat, rather than upright. On most modern infant seats, the handle is upright or forward to allow it to act as a roll cage in a collision.

This seat has no newborn inserts or head huggers, and the side impact protection is lacking. Under R44.03 and R44.04 crash testing, side impact protection is not currently a legal requirement,  however many modern R44.04 infant seats will provide side impact protection.

Under R129 iSize side impact protection is a legal requirement which is crash tested.

The harness on this seat is also different to what we see on modern seats.



Harness old OL

 

This harness must be adjusted individually from the back of the seat. This means that the harness is even less likely to be used correctly, as it is very difficult and fiddly to alter the straps as your child grows/to suit their clothing. Also note that there is only one harness position.

The primary concern with this seat – and it should be with any seat you do not know the history of – is that it is second hand. A stranger is telling us that this is going to protect our child’s life – is the word of a stranger good enough?

 

Our expert paid £5.99 for this seat, plus postage – worth the bargain?


No. This seat is now too old to be sure of it’s safety and effectiveness, even if it wasn’t second hand. We have no idea of the history of the seat and the way in which the seat is fitted and used means it most likely won’t be adjusted correctly.

The seat did not fit safely in our expert’s vehicle either – can you spot what is wrong with the fitment of this seat in this vehicle?

 


Mamas and Papa's in car 002

 

So, is this seat safe?

 

No.


This seat is not a safe or suitable child restraint to use.  It is unlikely to be able to pass crash testing,  it has a small seat shell meaning it won't last very long and the seat provides no side impact protection.

Second hand car seats pose a huge threat to children's safety - don't let a child you know be put in danger! Raise awareness!


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Second hand child seats - the dangers...

 

The dangers of second hand child seats

A big concern we have here at Good Egg Safety is the number of seats we see being sold secondhand – be it in a charity shop, car boot sale, online or in the local paper.



2nd hand maxi cosi OL



As part of our ongoing research, our expert has found four secondhand car seats. Throughout November we’ll be running a blog series looking at the dangers these seats pose and the potential risks to children's safety.

If you are a parent or carer and are thinking of buying secondhand, we hope our findings will inspire you to reconsider and choose new!

 

Would you let a stranger look after your baby?

 

 

Stranger Danger

 

Stranger Danger


Imagine if a stranger walked up to you and offered to look after your baby for a few hours.  You've never met them before and have no idea who they are. What would you say?  Your answer of course would be a resounding 'No!'  However well-meaning the stranger may be, you have no guarantee that they would take care of your child. You simply wouldn’t risk it because you have no way of trusting them.

So it is when you buy a secondhand car seat from a stranger.  You only have their word for it that the seat they are selling you will protect your child. You have no way of knowing whether it has been involved in a crash, or even whether it is the right size and type for your child and make of car. Even without realising it, they could be selling you a dangerous – or potentially lethal – seat.

You wouldn’t allow someone you did not know to look after your child without knowing they were thoroughly vetted and qualified. It’s no different when choosing a child car seat.  Buying a used seat from online auction sites may seem like a bargain, but it simply isn’t worth taking the risk.

 

What are the risks?

 


Dangers of Second Hand

 

 

Stay tuned for the first case study blog which will be released on Monday 17th November!


 

 

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Reusing child car seats

Is it safe to re-use car seats?


Many parents understand the safety risks involved with buying and using second hand car seats and avoid doing so. You do not know the history of the seat, you may not have the instructions, vital parts may be missing from the seat (unnoticed by seller or buyer), and it may have been involved in a collision.

 

But what’s the story for reusing a car seat you have had from brand new?  Is it safe to use again?  Do car seats expire?


For reusing child car seats, manufacturers recommend that car seats more than 5 years old are no longer used.  This is due to the seat potentially not being able to provide the same level of protection that a new child seat is able to.

Over the 5 years that you have had that car seat, car seat safety will have improved dramatically, the primary reason to upgrade your seat is due to new technologies and developments coming forward that make new car seats even safer.

Here is a comparison of a 10 year old car seat, and a new car seat. The old seat is a Britax Trio suitable from 9kg - 25kg (below left), and the new seat is a Joie Stages suitable from 0 - 25kg (below right).



                                                               1L                    1R



The first image below shows the ECE approval for the above Britax restraint, which shows it is approved to R44.03.  The second image below with the orange approval label below is off of the new Joie Stages seat, showing it is approved to the latest R44 approval - R44.04.


r44.3

Joie Stages



Both of these seats have an easy adjust head rest and harness, but the head support and side wings on the new seat are noticeably deeper.  The new seat can offer safety and protection to children, that the old seat would not do as well due to the shallow side wings.

The new seat offers 3 recline positions, unlike the old seat.

The new seat offers rear facing up to 18kg, unlike the Britax which is forward facing only.

 

Don't the plastics in the seat break down?


The plastics of a seat do begin to degrade, but the process takes a long time.  Seats that are constantly left in the car and exposed to extreme changes in temperature, or seats stored near a radiator or somewhere that has fluctuating temperature (like the attic) will begin degrading more quickly, as will seats that are used in very hot or very cold countries.  Plastic does degrade over time, but not so rapidly that the seat will break apart in a collision once it turns 5 years old.

 

Hang on... my seat is Group 1,2,3 - it's designed to last me 11 years!


The recommendation to upgrade seats after 5 years is just that, a recommendation.  It doesn't mean that seats will become dangerous after 5 years. The primary reason the recommendation is 5 years use for a child restraint is due to the advances in technology, resulting in safer seats being manufactured - the new i-Size regulation is a good example of this.  It does not mean that a group 123 seat is unsafe after 5 years, but it may not perform to the same standard as a new restraint.

 

I want to keep hold of my seat for my next child, where should I store it?


The best way to store your child car seat is to first clean it, wash the covers (do not wash the harness), hoover all crumbs out and make sure the buckle is free of food.  When the clean covers have been replaced, wrap the seat in a blanket, and then a big sheet of plastic or bubble wrap.  Then store your seat in a cupboard.  Avoid storing it near radiators, in a garage, attic or outhouse - these all experience large differences in temperature.

reusing a child car seat

 

Tip1

 

Check the harness for any visible signs of wear, fraying or rips.  If there are any do not use the seat.

 

Tip2

 

Check the seat for any signs of damage, do not reuse child car seats if you can see any damage.  Be aware that not all damage is visible to the eye.

 

Tip3

 

If your seat has polystyrene foam under the covers check it for any cracks or crumbling parts – again, if you find anything like this or to cause concern do not use the seat.

 

Tip4

 

Check the ECE certification of your seat. A seat certified to R44.01 or R44.02 should no longer be used.  Seats approved to R44.03 and R44.04 may still be used and the newest standard is R129, i-Size.  You can check the verification by locating the ECE sticker on your seat, which will look like this:
 
Group 0 car seat label

 

Tip5

 

Reusing child car seats that have been stored for a number of years before should be carefully considered and looked at.  If your seat is a number of years old it may not offer the same level of protection you would expect, buying a new up-to-date seat will be the only way of ensuring maximum protection.

 

Tip6

 

It is very important to ensure the seat is suitable for the child's weight and that it is compatible with the vehicle(s) it may be used in.

 


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