When should you replace your car seat? That’s a tricky question. Car seats are designed to protect a child in an accident But like helmets, they’re not designed to protect against multiple accidents. The foam in bicycle and motorcycle helmets can deteriorate after a major impact, and it won’t protect as well the next time there’s (hopefully not) an accident. Same thing with child seats—the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that child seats are replaced after an accident.
Unfortunately, the NHTSA says to replace child seats, but it doesn’t say when you should actually do so. Should you chuck out that Recaro if you roll into a K-Mart shopping cart? You can keep it if the accident you just experienced is “minor,” says the NHTSA, and featured these things:
- Nobody was injured.
- You could drive away from the accident.
- The airbags didn’t go off.
- The door closest to the seat was undamaged.
- The seat looks undamaged.
When should you replace your car seats, however? If your accident was “major:” if it shuts down an interstate for a few hours or makes it to the evening news, or if you’re in no condition to read this post. But today’s car seats are made of stronger stuff than the child restraints of yesteryear, and anything short of a rollover will render a car seat still functional to keep your loved ones safe and sound.