Consumer Reports: Do not buy used car seats

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Safety experts at Consumer Reports say there's one thing you should think twice about buying used: car seats. (WLS)

Kids grow fast. Many people buy used baby gear and kid clothing at garage sales, consignment stores and on Facebook, but safety experts at Consumer Reports say there's one thing you should think twice about buying used: car seats.

Like most parents at this car seat safety check, Traci Cohen wants confirmation her son's car seat is secure.

"Coming to the car seat check just makes me feel that much more safe - that it's in correctly," Cohen said.

She bought her son's seat new, but many parents receive hand-me-downs or buy a used car seat.

Safety experts at Consumer Reports caution against buying one second-hand if you don't know the seat's full history.

"Even if a car seat looks fine, it may have internal damage that you can't see. We test hundreds of car seats and after those crash tests, there is sometimes damage that's not evident," said Jen Stockburger, Consumer Reports Car Seat Expert.

Even a seat used by an older sibling that was never in an accident might not be OK. Car seats actually have an expiration date, roughly 6-10 years from the date it was manufactured, which is printed on every seat.

"Sometimes they're on the side. Sometimes they're on the side up here. Many, many, seats have them on the bottom. But somewhere there will be a sticker that gives you, at the very least, a date of manufacture," said Sarah Ludwig, Child Passenger Safety Technician Instructor.

"Car seats have an expiration date to assure that the components haven't degraded over time and that the seat meets the latest in safety standards," Stockburger said.

Safety doesn't have to cost a bundle. The Cosco Scenera Next is a Consumer Reports Best Buy, for around $45, which gives moms like Cohen one less thing to worry about.

"It makes me feel much better as a first time mom, knowing I've done everything I could to make sure he's as just as safe in the car as I am," Cohen said.

If a car seat is expired or has already been in a moderate-to-severe crash, it's important to - literally - destroy it, so no one pulls it off the curb when you toss it out.

Consumer Reports suggests removing all covers, cutting the straps, and clearly marking the plastic shell with "Do Not Use," or bring an old car seat to trade-in events held at large retailers, like Target.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2018 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit
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