A quality child car seat can seem expensive when buying it. Maybe you look upon it as an investment, which you can pass down to your other children. If you have been in a car accident recently, it has probably left you out of pocket. There may be repairs to your vehicle to pay for, and perhaps you had to pay for a rental car. You may have legal fees to pay and may have lost earnings due to injuries.

The prospect of spending another few hundred dollars on a new car seat for your child is not ideal, especially if you have more than one to buy. It can be tempting to look at the seat and decide it is okay or will last another few months until they grow out of it.

Unfortunately, if you had another car crash your child could suffer additional injuries due to unforeseen problems with that car seat. Car seats can look fine but have hidden damage from an accident that makes them unsafe. Sometimes a car seat is safe to use after a crash, but you need to know how to decide. The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued these guidelines:

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Always replace a car seat after a moderate or severe crash. If it was only a minor crash, you might be able to keep it. They define a minor crash by five factors:

  1. You cannot see any damage to the seat.
  2. The door closest to the car seat was not damaged.
  3. No-one inside the car was injured.
  4. Airbags did not deploy because of the impact.
  5. You can drive away from the crash.

If you are unsure, throw your current car seat away and buy a new one. Remember, there may be invisible damage. While you may struggle to afford a new seat, you can never replace your child.