Today, I had a really weird experience. My baby outgrew his infant car seat a few months ago and I wasn’t sure what to do with it, as none of my friends/family are pregnant right now or in need of one, so I decided to post it for sale on the LetGo app.
It took a couple of weeks, but I finally had someone interested enough to come buy it.
This is the weird part. The couple that bought it just glanced over it, passed me the money, grabbed it and left. No questions.
Now, I know the car seat I sold was perfectly safe, and has five years left of use until expiration, but how did that couple know?
I’d like to think, they just thought I looked like a nice enough person and wouldn’t sell someone a janky car seat. But I doubt it. I have a feeling they didn’t ask any questions, because they didn’t know what to ask.
So, what should you ask if you’re on the market for a used car seat? (Which by the way, if you are, I get it! Infant car seats are not cheap. And they are used for such a short while!)
#1: What is the date of manufacture?
The car seat, and it’s base will each have their own manufacturer’s date, usually they’re the same or almost the same if they were purchased at the same time. If either date of manufacture is five years or more past, don’t buy it.
#2: Has it been in any accidents?
If it has been in any accident at all, don’t buy it.
#3: Is it involved in any recalls?
This is where you can check if you’re not sure: https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/recalls/childseat.cfm. If you find that the car seat does have recalls, don’t buy it.
#4: Are all parts of the seat in working order and have all parts of the seat been maintained per the car seat’s manual?
Check out the car seat’s buckles, if they are installed properly and if they buckle and unbuckle properly. This is a little known fact, but if the straps, shell, or cover have been removed from the car seat and washed in the washing machine and/or with harsh detergents, they are sometimes rendered unsafe – so ask the previous owner how it has been cared for, and check the manual for it’s cleaning recommendations. Also, look at the base and ensure the carrier connects and disconnects to it properly. And make sure that it’s latch system is in working order. If anything seems off, or doesn’t feel right to you, don’t buy it.
#5: Does it come with the manual?
Installing a car seat properly without the manual is not possible. Although, sometimes you may able to download it online or get another one from the manufacturer. But if you can’t get another one and the manual is missing, don’t buy it.
#6: Has it been on an airplane?
I’m having trouble actually finding any sources online that confirm this, but at the risk of sounding paranoid, I’m still adding this one to the list. Have you seen how baggage is handled in airports? I don’t think I’d be comfortable using a car seat that has been through that. So, if it’s been on an airplane, don’t buy it.
*Also, if you’re in the U.S. check out this page from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to find out where you can get your car seat installation inspected, get help with installation, or even get it completely installed – usually for free!
**One last tip: Before hitting up Craigslist, or LetGo, or Facebook Marketplace check with your friends and family for car seats. It’s always more comforting to get something used when it’s from somebody you know and trust. Also, if they realize you’re in need maybe they’ll even be willing to pool some money together to buy your baby a new car seat – you never know!