Manufacturers design car seats to protect your children in case of a car accident. According to the NHTSA, car seats and booster seats provide protection to infants and children up until 13 years of age. When you choose an age-appropriate seat, your child has a higher chance of escaping a moderate to a severe accident without severe injuries.
However, following an accident, you need to consider replacing the car seat. Even if the car seat looks undamaged, the material breaks down following an accident and may not provide the same level of protection.
What is a moderate or severe crash?
You cannot drive your car from the scene in a moderate or severe crash. Odds are, you had to have a tow truck take your car. If you or your children sustained injuries because of the accident, your damages may determine whether your accident is moderate or severe. Any injuries, however, should indicate a need to find a new seat. Vehicle airbags do not generally deploy in minor accidents.
When can you keep a car seat?
After a minor accident, you do not necessarily need to replace the car seat. In a minor fender bender, your airbags may not deploy and you may experience no injuries as a result. If you cannot see any visible damage to the car seat and believe the accident to be minor, you may not need a replacement. However, if you had a minor accident where the other car hit the child’s door, you should still replace it.
If you have any concerns over your child’s seat, replace it. Sometimes, it makes sense to err on the side of caution.