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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Really good article.
I think it's especially important to take note of this section:
"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 no longer being able to provide the same level of protection as it once would have.
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."
And that it's not that your seat is just gonna crumple and bend just like that if it's 5 ears old.
It's important to always check the condition of the seat with covers off, and to think about during those 5 years, the seat probably did come in and out of a few cars, maybe went on a trip to a different country? Maybe got changed out and put back in, and maybe you even moved house and it got shipped some where.
All are factors to consider.
Personally I don't think that I would have to change my seat after 5 years looking at the izi Plus, but that would have to be something I have to look at when the time comes.
Roughly we do say 10 years after all.
[…] I gave her all your previous tips, but one thing I suggested was that they make sure they prioritize what they need new vs. what they can get second hand. However, she has told me that they plan to use a 15 year old carseat (almost 16 years old) that was her sister’s. Her sister says it is safe as it has never been in a collision, and is a child-minder, so she puts a lot of weight into her sister’s words. In the UK I worked in maternal child health and we had loads of pamphlets as carseat safety in the UK lags behind, but all my literature is long gone! I’ve made the point about carseats expiring (only in the UK they don’t have the same set expiry dates like we do on this side of the pond), and about advances in technology. My friend will only accept UK rules not “best practice” from America/Canada as feel carseats are very costly and there’s a perfectly good one waiting for them. I’ve searched high and low and thankfully found one good site: http://www.goodeggcarsafety.com/blog/reusing-child-car-seats/ […]
Thanks for the comment!
A seat which is nearly 16 years old will be unlikely to now meet current safety testing, there have been some big advances in car seat safety over the years, and a new seat will provide much better protection.
There are infant seats available in the UK from £30-£40, which are very good. If any further help is needed, we can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
The Good Egg Team
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