Buyer beware: car seats may be “expired” at second-hand stores

car seat

(KWQC) – Lots of garage sales are starting up this weekend around our area and topsellers are always childrens’ items, but be careful when it comes to second hand car seats.

Did you know they have expiration dates? Typically, newer car seats will have the model number and expiration date on the bottom. Sometimes they are on stickers or even imprinted onto the plastic.

If you plan to hit area garage sales or consignment shops this weekend, looking at expiration dates is an important point to be aware of.

“When a car seat comes we make sure it’s not expired,” said manager at 2nd Time Around Consignment Shop Amy Holm.

She said she throws away 8 out of 10 car seats she receives at her store in Clinton, because they’re just not safe anymore.

“I would make sure it’s not on the recall list, it’s never been on an accident,” she said. “You always want to double check that.”

Before she sells something, she looks at expiration dates and checks for any signs of damage. She said she calls the manufacturer phone number, located on most car seats and makes sure the product hasn’t been recalled.

Holm said she often sees un-safe car seats at thrift stores and garage sales.

“You wouldn’t believe all the expired recalled things,” she said.

Then, she said she’ll let the owners know they’re selling something that’s expired.

“A lot of people have thanked me, a lot of them say well if it sells it sells and I don’t have that attitude whatsoever,” she said.

Today, KWQC also found an expired car seat at a different thrift store. The expiration date read: “DO NOT USE THIS PRODUCT AFTER DECEMBER 31 2013.”

“It makes me feel like they don’t care…Like they’re careless and not looking after the safety of children,” said Holm.

But Lt. Mark Kakert with the Davenport Fire Department said buying second hand isn’t worth the risk.

“Let’s say that the car has been in a crash and then someone puts it out of service and then you put it back in service it could be damaged and you don’t even know it’s damaged,” he said. “Try not to buy car-seats at yard sales or thrift stores or things like that.”

He said it’s the best way to keep your children safe.

“I think the big thing is that car seats if you aren’t the original owner then you don’t know the history of the car seat,” said Lt. Kakert.

He said when you buy a new car seat, make sure you register it with the manufacturer.

“That way if there is a recall or anything then you’ll get a notification from the company. Another thing is seats do expire. The new seats do have a limit on them, so read the directions and find out when the seat does expire or when they want you to take it out of service,” he said.

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration said it’s especially important to pay attention to car seat expiration dates for your child’s safety. The NHTSA said materials can wear down and overtime they can develop hairline fractures in the plastic which can shatter in a crash. The seat belts can also become elastic over years of use and fail during an accident.

Lt. Kakert said every Saturday there is a Quad City Fire Department that hosts as a “fit” station, where they will help you properly install a car seat or check to make sure the seat is still safe.

Contact your local fire department to find out when it’s happening near you.

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