Car Seats: can you buy a second hand car seat?

Second hand car seat? The arrival of a new bundle of joy can be exciting and often daunting. There is no denying that these little cherubs are going to cost you a small fortune over the years. Considering the cost of a car seat, stroller, camp cot and other high ticket items it can be a very costly exercise. Are there some places that you can skimp to fit everything in the budget? With the new laws in South Africa car seats are definitely one of the necessities, but could you get away with a second hand car seat?

Second Hand car seat safety

Car seat prices range depending on the model that you buy. We, at Bambino, encourage parents to look at this cost not as an expense but rather as an investment into your child’s safety. Many of the car seat options available today can grow with your child, this means that the cost can be thought of as being spread over a few years. Car seats are an absolute necessity and research shows that they can reduce the risk of death for infants by 70% and by 47–54% for children aged 1–4 years.

With the laws changing to make car seats legally compulsory, there is a growing trend of purchasing a car seat second hand. The bargain car seat that you found at a garage sale may not be a real saving in the long run. While it may seem innocent enough, second hand car seats are a huge safety risk. There are a few factors to consider which we outline below:


Buying a second hand car seat

When purchasing a car seat, here are some of the important factors that you need to consider:

Seat History:

Even if you are buying a second hand car seat from a friend or family member, you have no real way of knowing the car seat’s history. If the car seat has been in any from of motor vehicle accident we do not recommend that they are used. Even if the car seat was involved in a light “fender bender” the integrity of the car seat can be damaged. Often the seat will show no signs of damage but could be rendered ineffective in a major collusion. Also note that there is no distinction between whether the car seat was occupied or not during the time of impact. You also have no indication if there is a part that has broken or gone missing over time. Many of the second hand car seats will not undergo a safety check before being sold and they are sold “voetstoots”.


Correct Seat Installation:

Manuals are provided with any new seat and help with various questions that you have regarding the seat, as well as guides for installation. When you purchase a second hand car seat this information is missing. It is then up to you to contact the manufacturer for any replacement parts or installation information. If you purchase a new seat from a retailer, many include the free service of installing the car seat for you and will contact the manufacturer on your behalf.


Expired Car Seats:

The age of the car seat is also crucial. Car Seat manufacturers recommend that a car seat is disposed of when it has expired. If you are using a car seat hand me down, you can’t really be sure of the age of the seat. New technology allows for many advances in car seats and your old seat may not be compliant with the current safety standards and laws. Most car seats will have a sticker underneath the seat displaying the manufacture date. For most infant seats the expiry period is around 6 years, while boosters have a longer age span of around 10 years. This depends on the make and model of the seat. Many parents will be able to buy a car seat that they can use for multiple children, depending on their age gap.



If you have a little one, you will know dirty their car seat becomes. In fact, at a study at the University of Birmingham, car seats were found to be dirtier than the average toilet! The car seats had 100 different strains of dangerous bacteria including E. coli and salmonella bugs! This should be a reminder to parents to get their car seats cleaned regularly and of concern when purchasing a second hand car seat.


The price of a new car seat can be at a very high price tag, but can you really put a price on safety? At Bambino we strive to bring in a range of car seats to cater for all budgets. If you would like to get some information about car seat safety please contact us so that we can assist.

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