Think twice before buying used car seats

Consumer Reports: 'It may have damage you can't see'

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SAN ANTONIO – Kids grow up fast, so many parents buy used baby gear and kid clothing at garage sales, consignment stores and even on Facebook. 

But safety experts at Consumer Reports say there's one thing you should think twice about buying used -- child car seats. 

Consumer Reports cautions against buying one secondhand if you don't know the seat's full history.

"Even if a car seat looks fine, it may have damage you can't see," said Jen Stockburger, of Consumer Reports. "We test hundreds of car seats, and after those crash tests, there is sometimes damage that's not evident."  

Even a seat used by an older sibling that was never in an accident might not be OK, Stockburger said.

Car seats actually have an expiration date, roughly six to 10 years from the date it was manufactured.

"It's printed on every model, sometimes on the side, sometimes on the bottom. Somewhere you'll find, at the very least, the date of manufacture," said Sarah Ludwig, child safety seat technician and instructor.

Car seats have an expiration date to help consumers avoid seats with components that may have degraded over time, Stockburger said. It also helps consumers determine whether a seat meets the latest  safety standards. 

And safety doesn't have to cost a bundle. The Cosco Scenera Next is a Consumer Reports Best Buy for around $45.

If a car seat has been in a moderate to severe crash, Consumer Reports said you should destroy it so it doesn't end up in someone else's car.   

Large retailers such as Target also have trade-in events. 

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