Do I Need To Replace My Car Seat After An Accident?
Why You Should Replace Your Car Seat After A Crash For Increased Car Seat Safety
Should you replace your car seat after a crash? It depends on the severity of the crash you were involved in based on NHTSA’s (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) five criteria (listed below) and what your specific car seat manufacturer says about that specific child restraint.
Many car seats need to be replaced if they were in a vehicle that is involved in a crash, even if the child was NOT in the car seat during the crash. The seat will undergo some damage even if the seat were empty and even more so if the car seat was occupied.
In a substantial crash, the crash forces may be enough to bend the steel in your car’s frame, therefore, obviously enough to damage the plastic in your child’s car seat (even if you cannot see the damage).
Does Your Car Seat Or Car Seat Booster Need To Be Replaced?
In the past the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommended to replace a child restraint whenever it was in a crash no matter the severity of the crash.
However, NHTSA has revised that recommendation in an attempt to reduce the number of children without a child restraint while their crashed restraint is being replaced and reduce costs for consumers and insurance companies.
NHTSA Cites Child Car Seat Safety Studies
NHTSA cites several international studies which showed that after minor vehicle crash tests, even when there is visible stress to the child restraint, the restraint still performed well in subsequent crash tests.
NHTSA’s policy on replacing child restraints after minor vehicle crashes to the following:
- NHTSA recommends that child safety seats and boosters be replaced following a moderate or severe crash in order to ensure a continued high level of crash protection for child passengers.
- NHTSA recommends that child safety seats do not automatically need to be replaced following a minor crash.
Minor Crashes Are Those That Meet ALL Of The Following Criteria:
- The vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash site
- The vehicle door nearest the safety seat was undamaged
- There were no injuries to any of the vehicle occupants
- The air bags (if present) did not deploy
- There is no visible damage to the safety seat
Will Your Insurance Company Replace Your Booster Seat Or Car Seat After A Crash?
Most insurance companies will replace your car seat in a crash without question. Most likely, you will have to buy a new seat and the show the receipt to the insurance company, then they will reimburse you.
What To Do With The Crashed Seat If It Needs To Be Replaced?
You may have a couple of options depending on where you live. Some cities have recycling programs for car seats. If you cannot find a place to recycle your car seat you’ll need to dispose of it. To dispose of it properly, you want to essentially make it unusable by anyone else by cutting the straps and removing any detachable parts.