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Buying a car seat

If you are looking to buy a car seat there are important things to consider.

To give your child the best protection when travelling, the restraint needs to be right for your child and fit the vehicle correctly, following the manufacture instructions.

Getting the right fit

The car seat needs to be right for your child now and as they grow. It is recommended that you look to purchase a restraint from an outlet that has a child restraint technician or experienced staff who can assist you, answer your questions and provide advice as needed. Child restraint technicians can be found on NZTA's website. 

Before you buy

  • Try your child in the car seat, making sure you are happy with the harness system and you can correctly fit it now and adjust it as your child grows.
  • Try the car seat in your vehicle, not all car seats fit all vehicles and it needs to be installed correctly. Look in the vehicle manual, there will be information about installing car seats (child restraints) and the features the car has to assist with installation.
  • If the car seat you are looking to buy can be used both rearward and forward facing, install it in each direction to make sure it will fit correctly in both. Follow the instruction manual as you go.

The Warehouse also stock a range of Plunket recommended car seats.  Car seats can also be purchased from specialist nursery stores and other retailers.

Buying a second-hand car seat

Purchasing a second-hand car seat may be a cheaper option but how can you be sure the restraint is going to protect your child in a crash or sudden stop? It is strongly recommended that you avoid buying second-hand if possible.

If buying over the internet you need to know that you can return the restraint if it doesn’t fit securely and correctly in your vehicle.

Ask the owner of the car seat if it has ever been involved in a crash. If it has, even a minor one, don’t buy it. You can’t always tell if there is damage or weakness to the restraint after a crash.

Check the car seat isn’t too old. Look on the back of the restraint and/or the instruction manual.

You may find a date of manufacture or a "don’t use after…" date on the restraint or in the instruction book. A car seat shouldn’t be used after it is 10 years old, some as few as six years from manufacture.

If you’re thinking of buying second-hand, this checklist will help you decide if the car seat you are looking to buy will be right for your child, fit your vehicle and be in excellent condition to offer best protection.

  • Can you try the car seat in your vehicle? Not all car seats fit all vehicles and it can be difficult returning the seat you have purchased if it isn’t right for your vehicle.
  • Can you sit your child in the car seat to make sure it is right for their size now and as they grow.
  • Does the car seat have a Standard label that shows it meets a Standard approved for use in New Zealand? If you are unsure check out the NZTA website for a list of approved Standards.
  • Is there an instruction manual with the car seat.
  • Make sure it hasn’t been in a crash. A seat that has been in a crash can be weakened and this may not be visible.
  • It has no fraying on the harness straps. This would weaken the harness.
  • The buckle works well and has no rust. Try the buckle to make sure it clicks correctly.
  • It’s not too old. Car seats have an expiry date (some seats have a six year life, others up to ten years).
An interesting link from Plunket
Here’s something I read on the Plunket website I thought you might find interesting.
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