Should I Replace My Car seat after an accident?
Often, parents first thoughts after a car accident are the health and wellbeing of their children who are in their automobile. After everyone gets the medical treatment they need, thoughts turn to getting their car fixed and property damage taken care of.
One important item to consider is your child’s car seat. While child car seats provide protection during an accident, a damaged car seat may not protect your child as intended. Manufacturers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have issued guidelines about when to replace car seats after an accident.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that car seats can be reused after a minor crash, but not after a moderate or severe accident. The NHTSA uses a five part test to determine if you should replace your car seat. You can re-use your carseat if:
1. your car was drivable from the accident site;
2. the door closest the seat was not damaged;
3. no occupants had any injuries;
4. the airbags did not deploy; AND
5. the car seat has no visible damage.
If your case cannot meet all the above requirements, then the NHTSA says you should replace your car seat. However, some manufacturers do not follow the NHTSA test. Call the manufacturer of your car seat or visit their website and get the manufacturer’s guidance on car seat reuse.
Sometimes, the guidelines from the NHTSA and your car seat manufacturer won’t agree. If it were my children’s car seat, I would follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Please also remember to install your car seats properly.
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