PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Kids grow fast, so many of us buy used baby gear and kid clothing at garage sales, consignment stores, even Facebook, but safety experts at Consumer Reports say there's one thing you should think twice about buying used.
The one thing you should really be careful about getting secondhand is car seats... and even car seats used by an older sibling may not be safe.
Like most parents, Traci Cohen wants confirmation her son's car seat is secure.
"Coming to the car seat check just makes me feel that much more safe, that it's in correctly," she said.
Traci bought her son's seat new, but many parents receive hand-me-downs or buy a used car seat.
Safety experts at Consumer Reports caution against buying one second hand if you don't know the seat's full history.
"Even if a car seat looks fine, it may have internal damage that you can't see. We test hundreds of car seats and after those crash tests, there is sometimes damage that's not evident," said Jen Stockburger, Consumer Reports Car Seat Expert.
Even a seat used by an older sibling that was never in an accident, might not be OK. Car seats actually have an expiration date. Roughly 6-10 years from the date it was manufactured, which is printed on every seat.
"Sometimes they're on the side, sometimes they're on the side up here, some - many, many, seats have them on the bottom - but somewhere there will be a sticker that gives you, at the very least, a date of manufacture," said Sarah Ludwig, Child Passenger Safety Technician Instructor.
"Car seats have an expiration date to assure that the components haven't degraded over time and that the seat meets the latest in safety standards," said Stockburger.
And safety doesn't have to cost a bundle. The Cosco Scenera Next is a Consumer Reports Best Buy, for around $45 dollars, which gives moms like Traci Cohen one less thing to worry about.
"It makes me feel much better as a first time mom, knowing I've done everything I could to make sure he's as just as safe in the car as I am," she said.
If a car seat is expired or has already been in a moderate-to-severe crash , it's important to literally, destroy it so no one pulls it off the curb when you toss it out. Consumer Reports suggests removing all covers, cutting the straps, and clearly marking the plastic shell: "Do Not Use."
Or, you can bring an old car seat to trade-in events held at large retailers, like Target.
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Consumer Reports: Should you buy used car seats?
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