Part of our Newborn Series, one really important safety concern is traveling with your newborn. Ensure you and your precious cargo get to where you need to go with this important car seat safety check!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. This post is a sponsored collaboration between cars.com and Mommy Engineering. I received compensation to write this sponsored post. For more information about this disclaimer, please visit our disclosure page.
There are many different types of infant seats that will help protect your baby during an accident. You can decide to purchase a new car seat, used car seat, or keep your previous car seat from your past baby. Whichever you decide, it’s important to always check your infant seat.
10 Car Seat Safety Check
Check For Recalls
- Whether you decide to purchase new, used, or keep you last car seat, you should always check to see if there has been a recall. If you had registered it when you purchased it, you should’ve been notified by the manufacturer of any recalls but if you bought it used, it’s possible the previous owner may not have disclosed this information to you.
- If you find that it does have a recall, follow the appropriate steps issued by the manufacturer or simply call them. They may be able to send you a kit to fix the issue. Check for Recalls Here
Check The Expiration Date
- Depending on the type and brand of your car seat, expiration date may vary. You can find the expiration date information printed on the back or bottom. Infant car seats and its base can expire 5 to 6 years after the manufactured date. Convertible All-in-One seats last quite a bit longer, usually over 8 years. If it is expired, you will need to get a different one. If your car seat is expiring soon, like within the range in which your new baby will be using it, then you should get a different car seat.
- For budget purposes, you could use the seat until the expiration date is up and purchase a new one later as long as the integrity is excellent.
Check if Your Child Has Exceeding the Weight and/or Height Limit of Your Car Seat
- Every seat will have weight/height/age requirements and limitations. Make sure you read the instruction manual that came with your seat and check your state’s current car seat standards. If you have lost or never received the manual, you can easily find a copy online or get the information from the manufacturer directly.
Check if Car Seat is Becoming Loose
- You should be checking this every time before you place your baby in the seat. Especially if you’re using your seat belts to secure your seat instead of the latch or tethering system. I’ve found that seat belts come loose more often than any other way.
- If you are having problems with installing yourself, your state usually hosts car seat safety checks with the local police or fire department and they will put it in correctly for you. You can find this more information about these with your OB and pediatrician or simply call your local police or fire department. You definitely need to have a secure car seat as a loose seat is useless.
- Click here to check out information on how to install different car seat types and learn about the latch system on cars.com.
Check if Your Car Seat is Still Reclined at the Correct Level
- As with car seats becoming loose overtime, the seat may also move from its appropriate reclined level for your baby’s needs. Every seat is different as some allow 2-3 levels of recline and some have up to 8. Make sure you adjust the recline level as necessary.
Check for Wear on Car Seat from the Sun
- With infant seats, you won’t see as much wear from the sun since most often these are not left inside the car. You can usually tell if the seat has had some exposure to the sun of the fabric of your car seat is fading or faded.
- Most importantly you should check if the base and infant seat has plastic that is warping in anyway. Warping is a sign that the car seat’s integrity is no longer any good and should be replaced immediately. Plastics can become brittle and break and the plastic found on car seats are no different. In an accident, your car seat may not hold up in an impact.
Check for any Cracks in the Plastic
- Like the last check, this could happen from warping of the plastic or damage from falling, dropping, or being thrown. If you find a crack, the integrity of the seat may be okay depending on the location and size but safety comes first and you should replace it anyway.
Check for Broken or Loose Parts
- Loose bolts should be taken care of right away and broken parts should be ordered from the manufacturer and replaced right away. In the meantime, the seat should not be used.
Check for Ample Padding
- You should check for padding especially around the side impact supports and make sure there isn’t any wear in those areas. You may be able to find replacements online or through the manufacturer as long as the model has not been discontinued.
Check for Damages to your Seat Belt that’s Holding the Car Seat, Latch System, or Tethering System
- As parts on your baby seat can wear and break, so can the parts from your car used to secure your car seat. Check your seat belts for holes and fraying. Make sure to check that your latch system is still sturdy and secure.
Looking for more information about car seat safety check?
If you’re interested in comparing different vehicle models with different car seat types to see which works best, check out Cars.com, they have three certified child passenger safety technicians that write the car seat check reports on their website. Cars.com uses this grading scale:
A: Plenty of room for the car seat and the child; doesn’t impact driver or front-passenger legroom. Easy to find and connect to Latch and tether anchors. No fit issues involving head restraint or seat contouring. Easy access to the third row.
B: Plenty of room. One fit or connection issue. Some problems accessing third row when available.
C: Marginal room. Two fit or connection issues. Difficult to access third row when available.
D: Insufficient room. Two or more fit or connection issues.
F: Does not fit or is unsafe.
Below is an example with the 2018 Toyota Camry:
Have you checked your car seat for this car seat safety check?
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