When Should You Use Car Seats AFTER an Accident

Question 1:  Ever wonder why it is recommended NOT to buy a USED child car seat? 

Question 2:  How do you know if a car seat is safe to use after an accident?

Here is What You Need to Know:

You need to know if the car seat was involved in a vehicle crash, and what type of vehicle crash.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that all car seats be replaced after moderate to severe crashes.   Minor crashes typically do not require car seat replacement.

Here’s an easy way to understand crash severity, as defined by NHTSA.*

  • If the answer to any of these questions is YES, then the vehicle crash was MODERATE or SEVERE.
  • If the answer to every question was NO, then the vehicle crash can be considered MINOR.

As previously mentioned, the NHTSA urges the replacement of any car seat that was in the vehicle in a MODERATE or SEVERE crash.

Car seats need to be replaced after a moderate to severe accident, but they also must be properly repaired or replaced if the manufacturer has issued a RECALL.

Question 3:  How will you know if there has been a recall?

  1. First, always pay attention to child safety recalls. Visit http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/problems/recalls/childseat.cfm or http://www.safercar.gov/ and sign up to receive emails for car seat and booster seat recalls.
  1. Next, be sure to fill out and send in the car seat registration card that you receive when you purchase the car seat. Completing this quick information card will allow the manufacturer to contact you in case a safety-related defect is discovered.  If you no longer have the card, simply visit the manufacturer’s website and follow the instructions to register your car seat or booster seat.  If you still have questions, call NHTSA’s toll-free Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236 with the following key data points:
  • Manufacturer
  • Model Name
  • Model Number
  • Date of Manufacture
  1. Once you’ve filled out the required information, the manufacturer is required to notify you of any recall for your car seat or booster seat.

If your car seat is recalled, get it fixed immediately per manufacturer’s instructions.  If you have another  car seat or booster seat, use it until the recalled seat is repaired.  If you don’t have another car seat or booster seat to use, keep using the recalled seat while you wait for the repair kit (assuming the recall information indicates it is safe to do so.)  Remember, it’s better to use a recalled seat than no car seat or booster seat at all!  Aim to get the recalled car seat fixed as soon as possible.

Here’s a quick review of the answers to those original questions.