While you would be hard-pressed to find somebody who wasn't aware of the vitality (and legal necessity) of car seats for infants and children, there are several details pertaining to their proper use that many of us are not so clear on. Let's take a look at those areas around which there is some confusion.
Is it okay to buy a car seat second hand?
Generally, no—certainly not from somebody you do not know. The reason for this is that car seats are no longer considered to be in good working order once they have been involved in a collision. While it may seem cynical to doubt the honesty of a potential seller who tells you the seat they are selling has never seen an accident, you can never be too sure. With something this serious, you are better off not hazarding the risk.
On a related note, can I reuse my car seat between my children?
Since you know beyond all doubts whether or not a car seat in your ownership has been involved in a collision, this is safe to do. However, bear in mind that car seats do expire. Check the date before you install it to ensure that it is still effective.
Can my child's clothing really impact car seat safety?
Absolutely. Bulkier clothing such as winter jackets can really interfere with your ability to get a proper fit when securing your child in their seat. For this reason, you should remove such large articles before adjusting your child's car seat.
Does it matter where the front clip rests?
Yes. The reason it is called a chest clip is because it is meant to sit at chest level. If you are uncertain about whether or not you have the clip in the right location, do your best to keep it in line with your child's underarms.
How do I know how tightly to fasten the car seat to the car?
As a general rule, the tighter, the better. At most, you should be able to nudge your car seat from side to side by a maximum of two centimetres.
Is it okay to wash my car seat?
As with any piece of gear that sees daily use by a child or infant, dirt and mess will accumulate on a car seat, and certainly for health and hygiene purposes, you want to address that. However, your best bet in doing this is to wipe it with a damp cloth. Avoid immersing it in water as this can cause it permanent damage.