For how long can a child restraint system be used? Can we extend its life and use it for siblings? When should be through it away? Here we answer many of the questions we ask ourselves on this matter.
Knowing when it's time to change car seat can be a complicated task. In order to solve all your doubts, at Fundación MAPFRE we have prepared an infographic where we address when to change the child restraint system. The passage of time and the use of the car seat are two key aspects.
How many years can we use a child restraint system for? According to different manufacturers, the useful life of a CRS is around 6 to 7 years. Although it all depends on how much we have used it and its condition, wear and tear is inevitable and materials deteriorate so it might not be in optimum condition. As soon as the seat deteriorates, it must be thrown away.
We must bear in mind that we are talking about child restraint systems that must protect children and need to be in perfect condition. Furthermore, we are talking about a product of considerable cost, especially rear-facing car seats, so we need to find a balance. On the one hand, we should not throw away the car seat too soon, but we should not extend it too long either. In any case, the CRS should be changed when we doubt about its safety and is no longer fully functional and effective. At the slightest doubt, we recommend taking the car seat to a specialized store for a check-up, although we strongly recommend taking it to the manufacturer itself.
It should be borne in mind that what affects a child restraint system the most is wear and tear.
In any case, we should always change the seat if the straps are not in good condition and are visibly worn. Also if the ISOFIX does not work properly, if the seat base does not lock, if any element is missing, if the indicators do not work... Apart from these indications, of course, you should always change a CRS when it is no longer suitable for the child according to the child's height and weight or no longer meets the needs that the child requires, either permanently or temporarily. Here we offer advice on how to change your car seat.
In this regard, it is also very important to change CRS if you have been involved in a sudden braking or a traffic accident. It should be noted that the seat may have internal damage that is not visible. It all depends on how this incident happened and, of course, it should always be changed if safety elements such as the airbag have been activated. This means that the braking or accident has been sufficiently important for it to act and, therefore, the car seat will also have been affected. It does not matter whether or not the child was seated in the child restraint system. It is sufficient that the car seat was anchored and fastened at the time of the accident for its integrity to have been compromised.
It is very difficult to determine the degree of damage to a car seat after a sudden braking or collision. On many occasions there is damage that may not be visible: damage to the internal structure, anchorages, fastenings, deformations, stretching of the plastic, etc. If we continue using this damaged CRS, it will not provide protection as before and our children could suffer injuries in the event of another sudden braking. Here we discuss the affect of speed and what happens when there is a sudden braking or collision.
TIPS FOR EXTENDING THE USEFUL LIFE OF A CAR SEAT
-Look after the child restraint system. Do not force it, bang it or pull on the harnesses. Frequently check the condition of the harnesses. Avoid forcing it and check that there are no broken parts.
-To slow down the aging of the materials, we recommended reducing its exposure to sunlight and high temperatures. Sunlight (ultraviolet radiation) and high temperatures can shorten the life of a CRS. We suggest parking the vehicle in suitable places, preferably protected from weather conditions.
-We also recommended covering the car seat when not in use, especially if the vehicle is going to be in the sun for a long time.
-Booster seats elevate the child so that the seat belt can be properly fastened. In general terms, boosters have a better resistance to wear and tear and age slower. In any case, we must bear in mind that they are not eternal and that use and the passage of time also affect them.
-Adequate cleaning of the child restraint system must be carried out periodically so that the materials do not deteriorate.
-It is always recommended to uninstall the car seat if it is not going to be used for a long time and store it in a safe place, preferably in its own box and with the user's manual, as well as with all the necessary elements such as the base or the support leg.
Finally, from Fundación MAPFRE we would like to emphasize the frequent technological and safety advances that are made year after year. Newer car seats incorporate this technology or materials, making them safer. This is one of the reasons why it is neither advisable to over extend the useful life of a car seat. The newer the car seat, the more advanced its elements will be. In addition, it will have undergone more recent safety and standardization approval tests (R-129).
Finally, we remind you of the Fundación MAPFRE infographic on when to change child restraint system.