Exercise caution when buying second-hand child seats

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Is that second-hand child seat safe? An RACV survey found more than one-third of cars bought from second-hand stores were not suitable for use.

Parents are urged to be cautious when buying second-hand child restraints.

RACV has surveyed the second-hand child restraint market to sample the quality and safety of child restraints being sold. Of the 164 second-hand restraints examined, the majority (114) were from online sellers, reflecting how most restraints now change hands. The other 50 were from second-hand stores.

The survey showed that 36% of store-sold restraints and 14% sold online were not suitable for use. They were worn-out, damaged, too old or even illegal overseas models. Not only would these restraints be a waste of money, they are potentially dangerous.

Even though many of the restraints were in good condition, RACV advises parents to ask lots of questions before buying. It is common for sellers to omit important information about the quality of the restraint.

Expectant mum Karlee (pictured), who bought a good-quality child restraint recently, said: “There were plenty of pictures and I was able to look at the restraint before I bought it.” She saved $400 on a restraint that she’s going to use for less than 12 months.

Parents shouldn’t be deterred from buying second-hand provided they know what to look for.


For videos and more tips on choosing and using child restraints, visit racv.com.au/childrestraints


See childcarseats.com.au to compare the safety and ease of use of child restraints and booster seats

RACV proudly stands behind our Accredited Auto Care Centre network, which repairs vehicles at more than 40 locations around Victoria.


Only buy a restraint that meets the Australian Standard. A sticker will show that it meets the AS/NZS 1754 standard. It is illegal to use overseas models or restraints meeting the 2000 or older standards.

Don’t use a restraint that’s more than 10 years old. A separate sticker should show the year of manufacture. Consider how long your child will need the restraint. Newer restraints are likely to be safer.

Check that all parts are in good condition. There should be no signs of wear and tear, and the buckle should click in to place securely.

Know the history. Damage might not be obvious, so it’s important to check if the restraint has been in a crash. A restraint that’s been in a crash must be destroyed and should not be for sale.

Check the safety rating. Compare the safety of seats at childcarseats.com.au

Check the restraint is suitable for your needs. Is the restraint the right size? Will it fit in your car?

Ask for the instruction manual. The manual will have instructions on fitting the restraint correctly. Some manuals can be downloaded online from manufacturers.

To understand the mobility issues that are important to RACV’s 2.1 million members, and what RACV is doing to help address those issues, visit racv.com.au/directions.


Following up on this report about the safety level of used child car restraints, RACV’s public policy team bought second-hand seats to find out what was being sold in the market.

One, bought for $59, appeared in reasonable condition but closer inspection revealed it was manufactured in 1999 and had suffered some damage. Another restraint, bought for $99, was manufactured in 2004. Restraints older than 10 years are not recommended for use as their safety is not guaranteed by the manufacturer. Date stickers are sometimes removed, printed small or hard to find.

If you’re not confident in what you’re buying, look for another restraint.

Written by Elvira Lazar
July 01, 2015