At MAPFRE FOUNDATION we wish to explain why you need to be careful.
First of all you should be aware though at first sight the seat looks in perfect condition, if it has been involved in a major accident, forget about it straight away. Even if it doesn’t appear so, after the serious accident the seat may not be in optimum condition, it could have micro cracks on the inside that are not apparent. If it has been involved in an accident at over 15 km/hr. it would be better to buy a new seat. A serious accident could mean one in that the airbags fired or where the seatbelts had to be changed or when the car had to be towed away from the accident.
Like many plastic products, the seats deteriorate over time. They are made to be safe not last forever. Although plastic is the perfect material to protect children, over time it suffers accelerated aging, especially when exposed to sun or stored in a damp area like a shed. Time and deterioration may cause the seat not to react to an impact the same as it would have when new.
One part that suffers heavy wear is the harness. The harness is a key part of child safety as it provides the necessary support, although only when properly adjusted, (for example the slots from which the top straps come through must be in good order) Prolonged use of the seat, damage caused when installing it, the harness or even some cleaning products all cause wear and tear to the seat which could result in it being dangerous for the child by finding itself unprotected by a loose harness or worn fixings.
Sometimes the seats have been used very little and look new but although they look it, it doesn’t mean they are. One way of checking the age of the seat is to check the certification sticker. Wear to the chair can also make the sticker unreadable. The regulation in force now is R44/04, anything before that is prohibited for use within the EU apart from the version R44/03 that can still be used.
Apart from wear and tear, the idea of passing on seats from one generation to another or between friends may result in bits being lost such as the instructions which advise on correct fitting the seat to the car seat. The loss of an important part or the instructions can cause us to install the seat wrong limiting any protection it provides.
Remember, reusing a child seat is not the same as inheriting baby clothes; your child’s safety may be at risk. If you are in doubt about the deterioration of your seat, better to buy a new one. Child safety improves everyday as the latest child seats improve and become better. If you are not sure which is the best seat for you, the MAPFRE FOUNDATION can provide more advice you from our website.