Child seat replacement
The experts agree that you need to replace a child car seat after a moderate or severe crash, but what about a fender-bender? Here’s some guidance on minor crashes and car seats.
You’ve had a crash. There wasn’t much damage to your car, and the child car seat looks fine. You may wonder if it’s really okay, though.
Your first step should be to check the manufacturer’s manual that came with your seat (or find the manual online). It may advise that the seat doesn’t need to be replaced after a minor crash.
What’s a minor crash?
Many car seat manufacturers use the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) guidelines to define a minor crash. The NHTSA considers it’s a minor crash if all these things apply:
The vehicle could still be driven after the crash;
The vehicle door nearest the child car seat was undamaged;
No one in the vehicle was injured;
The air bags (if present) did not deploy; and
There is no visible damage to the child car seat.
We’ve investigated what happens to the seats in minor crashes. Our research put new and used child car seats through multiple crash tests that simulated a vehicle impact into a concrete barrier at 15 km/hr. They were tested both when empty and with a dummy in place. Then the seats were tested for damage, including X-ray inspections.
Even after the equivalent of 50 minor crashes, none of the seats showed any damage or deterioration.