Where to Buy Used Car Seats? Best 2023 Guide for All Parents!

Are you a parent looking to save some money for your upcoming car seat? You're not alone! Buying a car seat can be expensive, and more and more parents are turning to buy used car seats as an affordable alternative.

But where to buy used car seats? What should you look out for? We've got the answers in our comprehensive guide to buying used car seats in 2023.


Take Away Key Points:

  • You can buy used child restraints only when you're 100% sure they are safe
  • You must know their age history, expired parts, labels, manuals, crash history, and overall condition, as well as various recalls for optimal use
  • When in the slightest doubt, do not buy second-hand restraints; instead, opt for the brand-new models

Should you use a second-hand car seat? All you need to know

If purchasing a new car seat might be challenging, especially if you're a parent in need, you may turn to a used car seat from your friend or family members. Or, you choose to find the best place to purchase used car seats.

But how do you find the best place to buy them, and are these car seats safe for your little one? Refer to our guide to find all the crucial information regarding this topic.

1. Do car seat manufacturers support purchasing used car seats?

car seats to recycle or not to recycle

No, car seat manufacturers do not support purchasing used car seats. While it is possible to safely purchase a used car seat, several risks are associated with buying a second-hand car seat.

For example, it is difficult to verify the age of the seat and its crash history, and some car seats may have expired or be missing parts. Additionally, there is no way to guarantee that the car seat has not been involved in a collision. For these reasons, buying a new car seat from an authorized retailer is best.

2. Is it legal to buy and use old car seats?

It is legal to buy and use used car seats. However, it is essential to take certain precautions. It is recommended that you verify the car seat's history before using it, as well as make sure that it appears in good condition.

You must check the expiration date and see whether the manufacturer has made certain recalls for the second-hand car seats you want to buy. Ideally, all the parts should work properly to allow your kids maximum safety features. You must inspect the used car seats thoroughly and ensure there are no cracks and a high risk of injuries.

Additionally, it is important to ensure that the car seat meets the safety guidelines for your state. In Texas, for example, children must be secured in an appropriate car or booster seat until they are 8 years old. So, find the proper sticker and resources to ensure the used car seat can protect your kids in the vehicle.

3. Places that buy used infant car seats

When buying used rear-facing seats for infants, there are a few different options. You can buy them locally from Facebook Marketplace, eBay, or Good Buy Gear. However, it is crucial to know the entire seat history and be 100% certain it has never been in a crash before purchasing.

4. What are the safety considerations for a used car seat?

If you're thinking of using an old car seat to keep your child safe, here are the factors worth considering:

Age & expiration

Confirming the age of a used car seat before you buy it is crucial. You can find a manufacturer's label on the back or bottom of the seat that provides the manufacturing date.

Car and booster seats are typically valid for 6 to 10 years after manufacture, but individual models may have different expiration dates, which should be checked in the instruction manual.

Furthermore, mandated labels for model information and contact details of the manufacturer must be present on one of the car seat labels by law. If these labels are missing from a car seat, it is best not to use them as they provide information important to recall alerts.

Storage duration and temperature of storage locations do not affect the expiration date - even unused seats beyond their expiration date may not provide the required safety.

Original car seat parts & manufacturer's manual

Before buying a used car seat, it is essential to make sure that all the parts are original and still present to complete the full car seat. Some parts may be lost over time, such as a replacement harness, plastic parts, or other parts on the car seat, which might lack a key piece necessary for crash protection. Unless you collect all the parts, kids won't be safe in crashes.

Additionally, you should have a copy of the instruction manual to guarantee the correct model installation - this can usually be found as a free PDF download on the manufacturer's website.

Car seat crash history

Before buying car seats, it is important to determine whether the used car seat has ever been in a major or minor crash. This is due to varying rules on replacement criteria by manufacturers and NHTSA. For example, some manufacturers state the seat should be replaced after every minor crash, while NHTSA assesses based on factors such as airbag deployment and severity of impact.

If you know the prior owner, you can likely assess the crash history confidently and know if something is wrong with the desired model. However, with strangers, this may not be possible, and even if no visible damage is seen, you cannot inspect and assume that the model is safe to use if involved in serious crashes.

Car seat's wear and tear

is it illegal to use an expired car seat

The straps on a car seat are likely to be buckled and unbuckled multiple times and installed and uninstalled often. Unfortunately, this can gradually lead to parts breaking, fraying, or loss. That said, while some may appear worn out due to age, other car seats may look new even though they've been around for a long time.

It is important to check for any signs of damage or cracks carefully. Also, bear in mind that too much exposure to extreme temperatures and direct sunlight can cause the car seat's plastic to degrade and materials to lose their quality. Therefore, ensure you complete your checklist to ensure your baby's safety while riding.

Trustworthy car seat sellers

When buying a used car seat from a stranger, note and verify the accuracy of the information provided. Then, make an informed decision, as you ultimately trust them with your child's safety.

Consider if you can trust sellers on eBay or whether the person at the yard sale has maintained the seat correctly. Unless you have a trustworthy source, it is generally advised to invest in a new seat for your child.

So, what's the final car seat checklist?

The main factors on your checklist should include:

- age of the desired car seat

- crash history

- original parts

- expiration date

- labels and manuals

You can find all the required factors to check HERE.

Finding the most affordable car seats

Below you can find the best places to buy second-and child restraints - infant, forward-facing, and booster seats. And we offer you steps on how to do so.

Accessing your community resources

Check with your local Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) office for vouchers to purchase car seats. If this isn't an option, investigate state-run programs and charities and businesses offering free car seats/vouchers to qualifying parents. Research and make a few calls; it could be worth the effort!

Inquiring police departments and local hospitals

Hospitals and police departments may offer assistance in finding affordable car seats for your kids. For example, hospitals may give vouchers after completion of their prenatal program, whereas specific police departments do community drives to provide car seats to people in need.

It is legally required for your baby to be in a car seat before leaving the hospital, so hospitals also often help find a car seat that fits your budget. Contact your OB/GYN too, for more information about local resources for free or more affordable car seats.

Calling 211

The United Way's 211 services can be extremely helpful for those in need. The staff on the phone lines can help find an affordable car seat and other basic needs like food and rent. In addition, dialing 211 eliminates the need to make multiple calls to seek help - it is a resource available in all 50 states.

Do your research & shop around

Do your research when shopping for a car seat - compare prices and shipping costs, and look at style and safety features. Ideally, try to find a car seat that fits your baby for some time before buying a new one.

Consider weight limits too: big car seats are not necessarily the best option for newborns, so look for one starting at the newborn weight and up. Many online retailers offer free shipping as well. And check whether the car seat has been recalled. If it has certain recalls for the manufacturer, you need to replace it with other safer car seats.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it OK to buy a used car seat?

It is possible to buy a used car seat safely, but it is important to take certain precautions. Before purchasing a used car seat, you should verify the seat's age and ensure it has not been involved in any crashes. In addition, check if the car seat had certain recalls.

Additionally, it would be best to buy car seats with manufacture dates within the last six years. Finally, inspect the car seat for any wear or damage before purchasing. By following these steps, you can ensure that your used car seat is safe for your baby.

What does Target do with old car seats?

places that buy used infant car seats

Target provides an opportunity to recycle old car seats with their Car Seat Trade-in Event. Customers can bring in their old seat and receive a 20% off coupon for a new car seat, stroller, or select baby gear.

Target also offers Dual Grip Traction technology which helps minimize unwanted movement and protects car seats and upholstery from dirty stains, spills, and compression damage.


To revise, you can buy a used car seat from your friend or even a stranger, but you must follow the safety standards to ensure the best use. If you know:

- expiration date

- car seat history

- original parts

- crash history

- manufacturer recalls, labels, and manuals

you can use the seat for your child. Otherwise, opting for a new child restraint system would be best.

Avatar of Kathy Warner

Kathy Warner

Kathy is a busy mother of two and a CPS technician for more than eight years. Her mission is to awaken parents to the importance of child passenger safety and show them the right practice. You can read more about her here

Leave a Comment