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Buying Guide: Child Car Seats

As a parent who drives, nothing’s more important than the safety of your smallest passengers. Learn how to protect your precious cargo with this primer on child car seats.

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Child Car Seats: A Primer

Automotive safety is always an important concern for drivers, but it’s even more critical when you become a parent. Suddenly, you’re responsible for not only your own life, but the life of your child as well. You want to do everything you can to ensure your child’s safety, and a crucial part of that involves the installation of a quality child car seat in every vehicle you own. Here are some important things you need to know before you buy a child car seat.

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1. Child car seats need to be the right size

Child car seats are designed to fit children of a specific age and weight range. Always check the car seat packaging before you buy to make sure you’re getting the right size seat, and never try to make do with a seat your child has outgrown.

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2. You need to install a child car seat properly

Even the highest quality child car seat will do no good if it’s not installed properly. Nevertheless, studies by law enforcement personnel and child safety advocates have found that a majority of child safety seats are installed incorrectly. To check the fit and installation of your child safety seat, considering paying a visit to a child car seat clinic, or your local police station or fire hall. Both law enforcement officers and emergency response personnel are well-versed in proper car seat installation, and can help you make any necessary adjustments.

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3. Buying a used child car seat can be risky

Normally, if you want to save money, buying a car accessory secondhand is a viable option. A child car seat, however, is not something you want to skimp on. A used child car seat will likely be cheaper than buying a new model from a store, but there’s no way of guaranteeing it’s up to modern safety standards. Worse yet, there could be hidden damage to the seat that would cause it to fail in the event of an accident.

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4. You need to check for child car seat recalls

Millions of consumer products are recalled every single year, including plenty of car seats. Sometimes the recall is for a small problem, but other recalls are more serious, involving the structural integrity of the safety seat and its performance in a crash.

Always check for recalls before buying any child safety seat-and check again before you install it in your vehicle. Do not rely on the store to know about every recall, either-you can never be too careful when the safety of your child is at stake.