Well, this one has been a bit of grey area to me for some time now. You know? This whole second hand car seat purchase debacle. And for anyone with a pulse and half an ear, they must have heard of the dangers of second hand car seats and to just stay away from them, and are sitting in that grey with me too. Grey because on one hand we want to encourage everyone to secure their kids in a car seat by any means necessary – because car seats save little lives, no question about it. However, given South Africa’s economic demographics, that’s not always possible. For many households, brand new car seats are often deemed unaffordable or seen as a luxury, thus, more often than not second hand seats become their only option.
The dangers are associated with second hand seats is that a)unless one knows the owner,one cannot be sure if it was in a severe accident and b)one is not always too sure if that seat model was recalled. And these concerns are real and need to remain top of mind, but there are ways of helping to mitigate them. So as a seller of these car seats, you have a huge responsibility in ensuring that the car seats you put up for sale are still safe and reliable. Because, what you as the seller cannot ever lose sight of is that those very seats could make the difference between life or death for a little child.
So whether it’s because your little one has outgrown that car seat and you need to be able to afford the next size up. Or maybe you’re done having kids and now there’s that car seat just taking up space in the house, staring at you. Or perhaps you have a snazzy high-end car seat straight out the top draw, and want to give another child an opportunity with it. Whatever your reasons for deciding to sell that car seat on Gumtree or other platforms, you may understand the responsibily that goes with it, but not sure were to start? How do you ensure you’ve fulfilled your responsibility? Well, let me help you out…
Here below I’ve listed 11 key questions you need to ask yourself before attempting to sell that car seat:
1.Do you know the FULL history of that car seat?
If you don’t know the FULL story or history of that car seat, you cannot sell it. Because you would need to know very key things about that seat before you could safely and responsibly pass it onto another family. What are these key factors? Well, see number 2 below.
2. Was it ever in an accident?
Even if there was no child in the car seat at the time, having been involved in a car crash compromises that car seats integrity and ability to safely secure a child in the event of a crash. In fact, many car seat manuals warn that the car seat can never be used again after involved in a moderate to severe car crash.
But what if it was just a fender bender? Should the car seat now also be deemed as no longer usable? Well, here’s the thing, there are a few car seat manufacturers that do clarify that in the case of a “minor car crash”, the car seat would not be compromised at all. But what exactly is a “minor car crash”?
Well, according to a Britax source, a minor crash is one that meets ALL of following criteria:
1. The vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash site; AND
2. The vehicle door nearest the child restraint was undamaged; AND
3. There were no injuries to any of the vehicle occupants; AND
4. The air bags (if present) did not deploy; AND
5. There is no visible damage to the child seat.
You as the owner and seller have the responsibility of being honest about this before putting this car seat up for sale. A child’s life depends on it.
3. Any missing pieces?
Be sure there are no missing parts. Use the user manual to help check and ensure all parts are present and still in good working order. Eg. If the Styrofoam inserts in car seats, which act as shock absorbers and prevent serious injuries, are absent, the seat cannot function as it should.
Check that the plastic has not become brittle- which often happens if you mostly park your car in the sun.
4. You do still have the user manual, right?
Unlike the rest the user manuals that we lose after five minutes or simply disregard in this life, keeping that car seat manual close at hand is so crucial to ensuring the safety of the little ones who will be in those car seats. Not only will you need that user manual to check for all the parts(see above), but also to pass onto the next potential owner to help ensure that seat is properly installed or cleaned. Not having that essential user manual to refer to is one the most common and gravest mistakes people make with car seats. (See more common mistakes here.) The smallest installation error could have dire consequences for the child it was meant to secure.
It is your responsibility as the seller to ensure you sell the car seat WITH its proper manual. If you seemed to have misplaced it, check the internet for an online version thereof.
5. Have you added anything?
Many parents think that they are doing their child a favour by perhaps adding extra layers of foam to the upholstery to make it more comfy. But in reality, all they are doing is creating an untested and unsafe configuration of the car seat that now, as is the case with added padding, takes the child out of the safety zone of the car seat. These seats may look simple enough, but they are actually complex and well-thought out designs that have been subjected to thorough testing. Any adjustments to it, risks its integrity. Car seats are also ergonomically designed for the safety and comfort of your child, therefore, no additional padding is required.
So be sure you have not added anything to the car seat.
6. Have you fixed anything?
Any visible wear and tear on the car seat that proves it to be less than reliable is a sign to toss it – not sell it.
Don’t attempt to fix straps by hand stitching or stapling them together. As you can imagine, these quick DIY jobbies actually completely compromise the car seats ability to safely secure a child in a crash. Those straps will simply tear apart in the moments following impact.
Also the use of non-specialized glue in reattaching the Styrofoam inserts in car seats (which act as shock absorbers and prevent serious injuries) cannot be risked, as using the wrong glues dissolves the Styrofoam, thus rendering it useless. Similarly with handmade covers. You may fancy yourself rather handy with the cotton and thread, but car seat covers are an integral part of the seat design and add to the safety of the seat. This is even more so in the more modern seats, and thus handmade covers cannot replicate the safety features. So save your sewing skills for other crafty areas and leave the safety of children to the experts by not fiddling.
As a seller you need to be sure that you are not selling a car seat that has been compromised through the addition of any non-manufactural parts, or has been “fixed-up” in any way.
7. How old is that car seat?
You cannot sell a seat that is more than six years old. With the leaps and bounds that technology advancements make on an almost daily basis, the safety measures improve all the time, and some seats may actually have been recalled. In fact, some of the older seats may not even work well enough in today’s cars.
NB! Whilst not all, some car seats do actually have an expiration date on them – who knew?! So to check if your seat does have one, check the seat in good light and very carefully before thinking of selling it.
8. Does it have its Badge of honour?
Ensure that the seat has an orange sticker on the plastic of the seat that clearly shows the weight limit of the seat. This helps guide buyers to ensure the seat is suitable for their child’s weight and height.
Also, it helps buyer find make and model to check for recalls.
(You as the seller can also check with Wheel Well about models and recalls if in doubt.)
9. What about buyer Viewing and Fitment?
Allow the potential buyer to view the seat in person and check the car seat fitment in their own vehicle with you present.
The car seat needs to fit the potential buyer’s vehicle as intended, and the only way to ensure that is for the buyer to physically try and fit it.
10. How clean is it?
Guys, it’s no secret that those car seats can get awful grubby in no time. Because, HELLO: kids. But often that usual grub can get out of hand very quickly.
In fact, scientists at University of Birmingham took swabs from 20 cars and homes and found 100 dangerous types of bacteria per square cm of car seat compared with 50 different bugs on the average household toilet. Bacteria found can lead to nasty illnesses including E. coli and Salmonella. (Read the full
So before you think of selling it, carefully follow the cleaning instructions as per the user manual. (see why you need to hold onto those manual?!They know everything.) And yes, there are very special and specific washing instructions, as not following them could also result in compromising the car seat.
11.How about some expert advice?
Joburgers take note!!!!! If you are in the joburg area and you really want to have complete peace of mind when taking on the responsibility of selling(or buying) a second hand car seat, your best bet is to take your car seat to Wheel Well to be thoroughly checked and cleaned by experts there.
Remember, that by ensuring that the second hand car seat meets all the above safety requirements before selling, you not only are increasing the value of your seat, but more importantly, you are giving the gift of safety and peace of mind to another family.
And thanks to platforms such as Gumtree, (and being empowered with this awareness now), you really do have options where second hand car seats are concerned. So if you are in the market for one, you can find affordable second-hand seats on Gumtree over here. Get clicking already!
If you’re a buyer, then the same principles apply, and you need to be thorough in your inspections, for the buyers guide, see here.
Here’s to knowing better, and now doing better. #CarseatFullstop.
Let’s help save little lives and share this information. X