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Do you need to replace your child’s car seat post-crash?

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2024 | Auto Accidents

Car seats help to protect children when accidents occur. After a collision, many parents are left wondering whether their child’s car seat needs to be replaced to ensure ongoing safety. The simple answer is: it depends on the severity of the crash. 

If you have recently been involved in a wreck, understanding when/whether to replace a car seat can help to better ensure that your child remains protected as you travel moving forward. 

Decisions reflecting your unique circumstances

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has published guidelines to help parents determine both the severity of a crash and whether a car seat replacement is necessary after a particular kind of wreck. According to the NHTSA, car seats do not always need to be replaced following a minor crash. A minor crash is one that meets all of the following criteria:

  • The vehicle could be driven away from the site of the wreck
  • The vehicle door positioned nearest to the car seat was not damaged
  • None of the passengers who were present in the vehicle sustained any injuries in the crash
  • The airbags, if any were installed in the vehicle, did not deploy
  • There is no visible damage to the car seat, regardless of whether it was occupied at the time of the collision or not

If your situation meets all these criteria, the car seat may not need to be replaced. However, it is always advisable to consult your car seat manufacturer’s guidelines, as some have stricter replacement policies than others. 

With all of this said, if any of the NHTSA’s criteria for a minor crash are not met, replacing the car seat is important for maintaining your child’s safety. The integrity of the car seat may be compromised, even if no visible damage is apparent.