Although it may not be obvious at first sight, after a serious accident your child restraint system (CRS) may not be in the optimum condition any longer. It might have sustained small interior and external fissures and its different components may have been affected, thus reducing its efficiency. This is why the Accident Prevention and Road Safety division of Fundación MAPFRE puts such an emphasis on the importance of replacing your child seat after an accident.
In this respect, we're not only talking about accidents that might cause serious damage to the vehicle or the child seat. Minor incidents can also damage child seats as well as seat belts. This is why we recommend an in-depth check-up by an expert. In this case, the best idea is to take the CRS to the manufacturer so they can confirm that it is still in a perfect state of use.
Indeed, the manufacturers of child restraint systems themselves recommend replacing the seat after an accident. If the airbags have deployed, if the seat belts have done their job, if the car has been hit in any way... it's almost certain that the child seat will have been affected too. However, in the case of minor accidents it's quite possible that the CRS is fine. Nevertheless, you need to be 100% sure, as the number one objective is for your child to be completely protected in the event of another, possibly more serious, accident.
One of the main concerns is the possibility that the child seat will have sustained invisible damage to its interior, or to the anchoring systems or locks, with distortions or stress to the plastic parts. If you continue using the same CRS after braking sharply or hitting something, the seat will not offer the same protection as before and your child may be exposed to injury.
Some manufacturers recommend replacing the child seat immediately in the case of an accident at an impact speed of over 10-20 kilometers per hour. We recommend you read the article "Speeding and child seats: what happens when you brake suddenly or are involved in a collision?". If the seat can be repaired, we also recommend that you check and replace, where necessary, all the vehicle's seat belts that were activated in the collision.
Replacing child seats
In the knowledge of the importance of maintaining the safety of children after an impact, there are now several manufacturers in Spain offering a child seat replacement service after an accident. If you are in any doubt whatsoever, the best solution is to get a new child seat. They also provide financial assistance for parents who may not be able to afford a new child restraint system.
Bébé Confort (Dorel) offers this service free to its existing customers. If you have had an accident and the child seat was involved, the brand offers the possibility of changing it for a new seat at no extra cost. It doesn't matter how old the seat is or even if it is outside the official warranty period. The brand will change the child restraint system if it has been involved in an accident at a speed of over 50 km/h if the accident did not involve a collision with another vehicle, provided that the child was sat in the seat at the time, or when there is visible damage to the child seat.
It will also replace it if the accident happened at a speed of over 30 km/h and a collision with another vehicle was involved, provided that the child was sat in the seat at the time or when there is visible damage to the child restraint system.
According to the manufacturer, to request this service it is necessary to submit the claim to the insurance company and/or the police report, photos of the vehicle after the accident, the completed Bébé Confort accident form and the child seat involved in the accident.
The manufacturer will deliver a similar seat to the one involved in the accident as quickly as possible to ensure your child continues to travel in safety. They will also take charge of picking up the old child restraint system and delivering the new one.
The brand contends that thanks to this service it can continue "investigating and designing new and safer child seats." "The possibility of making a first-hand analysis of the performance of our child seats in an accident gives us the chance to learn from your experience and continue designing ever-safer products," they continue.
You can request this service through the brand's Customer Service department.
Kiddy is another of the manufacturers that offers this service with its "accident replacement service plus". To take advantage of it, you simply need to send them the seat along with the police accident report. Obviously it is important that the report mentions the child seat. The manufacturer undertakes to replace it with a CRS of equal value at no cost whatsoever. It guarantees this service up to three months following the accident.