The child seat
In Germany, children who are traveling in the car must be placed in a child seat. Unfortunately, new child seats are quite expensive, which is why many parents wonder whether a used and therefore usually cheaper model is also sufficient. The range of child seats is huge on Ebay and flea markets. Since these are only used by the previous owner for a certain period of time, they are often very well preserved at first glance and are also unbeatably cheap.
In the following sections we explain why you should opt for a new child seat despite the often very tempting offers for a child seat. Remember now: Your child's safety should always be a priority!
The danger of an accident
A child seat is not only there to take the child from A to B in traffic, but primarily to protect the child in the best possible way in the event of an accident. For most parents, the only idea is that their offspring could be more seriously injured in an accident than they themselves are a nightmare.
Parents should therefore be aware of the possible dangers that a (no longer) road-safe child seat can entail before buying.
Prefer to buy used or new child seats? - What you should definitely pay attention to when buying a child seat!
Age and material
The most important aspect that parents should keep in mind when buying a child seat is material fatigue. A child seat that is old and has already been used very often is no longer in the best condition and can therefore no longer offer perfect safety. A used child seat has already stood in freezing (in winter) and heated (in summer) vehicles. Not infrequently for hours. The material was therefore exposed to extreme temperature fluctuations. In summer there is also the strong UV exposure. Summer is the greatest enemy of every child seat, no matter how high-quality the material is.
As a result of regular use and the temperature differences, every material becomes cracked, porous and unstable in the long run.
The production date
If an accident occurs in road traffic, immense forces act against the vehicle and the child seat. The child seat should actually withstand these forces. This is the only way to protect the health of a child in the best possible way in the event of an accident. If the parents choose a used and porous child seat, this security is simply no longer available. Everything else is a fallacy.
With used child seats, the force yields and breaks very quickly, so that the child is hit by the full external impact of the accident. This increases the risk of injury to the child many times over.
It is not without reason that the manufacturers of child seats state in the product descriptions the lifespan of the child seat. The lifespan is usually five to ten years. The production date is noted in each seat, so that parents have the opportunity to always find out exactly how long their child seat is still ready for use and, above all, safe. Sometimes the date of production is hidden on the seat. However, it is guaranteed to be on it.
In the case of used child seats, it can very often be observed that they are offered online or at flea markets without safety-related parts. For example, the belt pads are often missing. Belt pads were not attached to the seat by the manufacturers without reason. If the upholstery is missing, security also suffers. In addition, many child seats are only approved for use if all parts belonging to the seat are available. By removing certain parts, some child seats lose their approval.
The unclear history
If you decide to buy a used child seat, this is also very critical due to the history of the product. Each child seat can only protect a child as best as possible in the event of an accident. An exchange is urgently needed after an accident.
An accident can damage the inner material of a child seat. This damage is not always visible from the outside. Even if the child seat is only a few days or months old, it no longer offers definitive safety for the child after an accident.
With a used child seat, you do not have the opportunity to completely reconstruct the history of the seat. Your child's safety should also be an absolute priority if the potential seller assures you that there has been no accident. If in doubt, you should count on the seller not telling the truth to sell the child seat quickly and profitably. Of course there is also the possibility that the seller used the seat himself. This makes it impossible for you to understand the history of the seat.
If you really want a used seat, then it is best to buy it from your friends or relatives. You can usually trust your closest caregivers. These people will most likely tell you honestly if the child seat has ever been involved in an accident.
The seal of approval
The safety standards of child seats have been tightened in the past few years. A law entered into force in April 2008 stating that child seats with the test number ECE R 44/02, which were valid until the end of 1995, may no longer be used. If you decide to buy a used model, make sure that it complies with the test standard ECE R 44/03 or ECE R 44/04. The test number should always start with 03 or 04. You can recognize this from the test label.
Current security standards
The development of child seats continues. Models that were considered particularly safe and innovative yesterday are already outdated today. As with vehicles, the strict safety standards that apply in the EU save numerous lives in road traffic every year. So when you are buying a child seat, be careful not to just save a few euros if possible, instead make safety a top priority.
Checking before buying
If you absolutely cannot convince yourself of a new child seat, please pay attention to the following points when buying a used model and check them carefully before buying:
- Are the belts torn or crushed? Can you see fraying on the edges? Are all accessories (e.g. shoulder pads) available?
- Can you see cracks, deformations or pressure points in the seat body? These can also be very small. Make sure to remove the cover for a thorough quality check!
- Minimize the risk of incorrect operation by checking whether the instructions for use are available. It may be possible to request replacement instructions from the manufacturer. Also check this before buying!
- Do all associated parts of the seat snap into place easily and correctly? Can the individual parts be easily opened again? Check this in particular on seat belt buckles and locking systems. Also make sure that nothing is splintered or glued to the systems.
Final recommendation - would you prefer to buy used or new child seats?
A child seat has the primary function of optimally protecting a child in traffic. Many child seats that are offered used can no longer do this. Therefore, when buying, always pay attention to how old a child seat is and what condition it is in. If necessary, take another person with you to the purchase and check together whether the seat may have already been involved in an accident. Four eyes see more than two.
Please also note: The best possible safety is only provided by a perfectly fitting child seat, which is virtually chosen by your own child!