Car seats:Buying new or second hand – insights

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#CarseatFullstop. Every child. Every time. No matter what.



I have joined the CarseatFullStop campaign this year to raise awareness, on the importance of child safety seats in every child under the age of 10/12. I am sure you are already convinced of purchasing your car safety seat if you are reading this.

Buying a car seat, whether new or second hand is the best investment you will ever make for your family. Since 1 May 2015, South African law states that all children under three years old need to be strapped into a car seat when travelling in a car.In a most recent study released by the AA, says that only 7% of children in South Africa are strapped in, so there is plenty to be done with regards to awareness.

With the laws changing to make car seats legally compulsory, there is a growing trend of purchasing a car seat second hand.  Whether you are buying a new or a second hand car seat, consider it a worthy investment for your family.

So what do you need to look out for ?

While I was pregnant, we went about researching car seats and tossed between a brand new car seat vs buying a second hand car seat. These are the things we considered before making our decision new vs used:

Enhanced safety and innovations: Manufacturing companies of the car seats are continuously working on improving design and safety of car seats. Materials used are being improved as well as the look and feel.  Another good fact to know is,  the warranty period and if it is used, the balance on the warranty. Used Car seats may not have installation and care instructions which are imperative for proper installation and care.

Car seat history: This one is especially for the people buying online sites and from strangers.The fundamental reason buying second hand seats is dangerous is because there is no way to be 100% sure of where it comes from and that it hasn’t been in an accident.

Most car seats have to be replaced if they are in an accident, even if there was no child in it. It is imperative to know the history of your car seat. Second hand car seats, that were involved in accidents may not be structurally perfect. Look out for worn out harnesses as red flag on a second hand car seat, as well as check the plastic base for any signs of stress or cracking – this only happens if the seat is in an accident as that would make it unsafe.

Cleanliness:  You should never buy a car seat that doesn’t come with a user manual that give instructions on installation and cleaning. Used car seats usually have spill and scuff marks.

Okay, so now that you have decided between new or used, there is still more information to consider on which type of Car seat you will actually purchase listed below:

  • A baby needs to be in a rear-facing infant seat until they are 13kgs or their head is more than 1 inch from the top of the seat back. This is usually around 1 year’s old.
  •  You should never ever forward-face a child under 13kgs or 1 year’s old.
  • A child should be rear-facing for as long as their car seat (and your finances) allows.
  • If at all possible, you should invest in a car seat that can rear-face until at least 18kgs (between 3 and 4 years old).
  • You can currently purchase one approved car seat in South Africa that allows for rear-facing up to 25kgs, which is between 4 and 6 years old.
  • Once a child outgrows the 5-point harness toddler seat, they should be moved to a full back booster seat with side impact protection until they are over 1.5m tall or over 36kgs (you need to ensure that the car seat you buy allows for this).
  • An incorrectly installed car seat is NOT safe. Always follow the installation instructions in the car seat manual.
  • ISOfix is NOT safer than a car seat that is properly installed with a seat belt.
  • ISOfix is said to be safer only because of the high chance of a person installing a car seat incorrectly.
  • The car seat harness should not be twisted at any point when fastened. The twists compromise the ability of the harness to properly and evenly “catch” and support the body in a crash.
  • A car seat harness is only tight enough when you cannot pinch the fabric of the belt between your fingers at all. You should not be able to get more than 2 fingers beneath the harness and your child’s collarbone.
  • A bulky jacket, jersey or blanket underneath the car seat harness can create a lot of slack between the harness and your child when the force from the crash compresses the material. This can lead to your child being ejected. You should rather place the blanket or jacket over the child once they are secured in the harness.
  • Unless an aftermarket product has been crash tested with a car seat, it could stop the seat from functioning as it is designed. Belt positioners, additional covers, inserts, neck pillows, restraints of ANY kind. There are some accessories that HAVE been crash tested, they will be branded with a reputable car seat company’s name.



Mr Sofeke in his Ferrari Carseat

Mr Sofeke in his Ferrari Car seat


#CarseatFullstop supports South African NPO Wheel Well, in Joburg, and encourages
people to donate the seats their kids have outgrown. Wheel Well collects seats that people no longer use. They check them to ensure they are safe, and safely repair and clean those that can be reused or responsibly dispose of those that cannot. Those seats are then gotten to those in need for an affordable donation.


car seat

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