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Can I use a second-hand Child Restraint System?

Can I use a second-hand Child Restraint System?

09/03/2016

The same child seat that it shared among members of a company, friends and even family. Most times, we do not know how that child restraint system has been handled, how old it is, if it has been involved in an accident, if it is suitable for our child's height and weight... the manufacturers themselves assume no liability for second-hand child seats. 

In the article "What precautions should I take to use a second-hand child seat?" we offer guidelines to be taken into account when choosing a safe child restraint system that is not new. It's a common belief to think, unaware of the risk we are assuming, that choosing a second-hand seat is an expense we are saving. We're not only talking about that seat that someone's given or lent us, but also second-hand seats that can be purchased over the Internet. Before buying a child seat, it's extremely important to know its history and have the opportunity to personally verify its condition. 

Different manufacturers claim that child seats have an expiration date. Therefore, it's not strange, especially in the USA and Canada, to find stickers on the CRS indicating the date until which the child restraint system can be safely used. This measure is quite useful as an orientation as to its approximate manufacture date. This is not the case in most European countries, wherefore we must rely on the explanations given by its previous owner.

LIMIT DATE: 6-YEAR LIFETIME

Normally, 6 years is the recommendable maximum period for using a child seat. Why? The truth is that the passing of time and daily wear affect all products including, of course, child seats. During 6 years they withstand daily use of the youngest members of the family, weather conditions (intense heat during summer and cold during winter). This causes the plastic to expand and contract, losing its original shape. The child seat suffers deterioration over time. In addition, we must take into account its exposure to braking, accelerations and how it has been handled.

WHAT DO THE MANUFACTURERS SAY?

The manufacturers defend, in their own instructions, that "it is very important to refrain from using second-hand items, given that complete safety can only be guaranteed by items used by their first buyer". Furthermore, they also request that the label that bears the model's chassis number not be removed for the purpose of guaranteeing authenticity. 

Another manufacturer comments that "after an accident, even if slight, or an accidental drop, the child seat may suffer damage that is not always visible at first sight". As a result, under these circumstances they recommend its replacement. How can we know if the child seat we are purchasing second-hand is not being sold specifically because it has suffered an impact or has been involved in an accident?

If we use a CRS that is damaged, deformed or excessively deteriorated, something that may occur through daily use, the product may have lost its original safety features. Therefore, it will fail to be efficient in the case of an accident, the main reason for which we need the child seat to begin with, to prevent injuries to the youngest members of the family in case of an unexpected event.

And not only that, it's also important that the product comes with all of the necessary elements and that, of course, the product has not been object of any modifications or additions without the manufacturer's approval.

Definitely, the child seat must also include its instruction manual. Nevertheless, it's a problem that can be resolved by visiting the manufacturer's website. Most include these manuals.

We must also verify whether the child seat has been taken off the market for any reason and that, of course, it has the corresponding approval.

ECE R44/04 APPROVAL, BASIC REQUIREMENT

Remember that child seats must be approved. To verify this, we must check that it complies with the ECE R44/04 standard. If the child seat does not meet this standard, the best option is to refrain from accepting it. The reason? This standard means that the model has passed certain tests in Europe. In other words, the child seat complies with the requirements of regulation 44, version 04, of the EEC: regulation ECE R44/04. 

We must bear in mind that in other countries, such as the United States, Canada or Australia, other similar regulations are applicable. This is something that we must not overlook if we wish to purchase a child seat outside the European Union. It must count with the European approval to be valid in Spain.

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