A child seat can save your child’s life when they are too small for a standard seat belt to protect them. Yet, like most safety-related things, they will only serve their function if they are in good condition and used correctly.
Will a car crash make them unusable?
There is no easy answer
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that you should always replace the child seat when your car is involved in anything other than a minor crash.
They say that if the seat shows signs of damage, the door by it was damaged in the crash, or the vehicle had to be towed away; then you should definitely replace the child seat. The same applies if any airbags were activated or anyone was injured.
What if no one was in the seat at the time of the crash?
It does not matter. You still need to use the guidelines above to make your decision. If in any doubt, err on the side of caution. While replacing a child seat is an expense you can probably do without after a crash, the cost of not doing so could literally be your child’s life if a more serious crash occurs in the future.
Avoid buying used seats
Many people put their child seats up for sale once their kids grow out of them. While recycling things is normally an excellent idea, in this case, buying new is safer. Not all vendors would be honest and tell you if they had a crash with the seat in their car.
Remember that you cannot predict the actions of other drivers. It only takes one negligent one to cause a crash that could harm your child, leaving them with injuries that need extensive compensation.