Car accidents are traumatic experiences that many people encounter during their lives. Depending on the accident’s severity, some victims can get away with minor injuries and damage to their cars, while others face harsher consequences.
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However, once you are back on your feet, or if the accident was minor, you should not hop back in your car so easily. Suppose your car was involved in an accident, no matter how superficial. In that case, you need to inspect it thoroughly because some components may no longer be safe. For example, your car seat might not be usable after an accident.
Car Seat Condition in Car Accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car seats are generally unaffected in minor car accidents, meaning you should not automatically replace them. Inspecting these seats is advised, but no law forces drivers to replace their car seats after minor collisions. It all depends on the car seat manufacturer’s instructions.
However, the NHTSA also states that the seats should be replaced if a vehicle was involved in a moderate or severe car crash accident. You should follow your car manufacturer’s instructions for your specific car seat. But what exactly constitutes a minor, moderate, and severe car crash accident?
Minor Car Crash Accident
A minor car accident situation is when there are slight damages to your vehicle that do not impede your vehicle’s ability to operate. If you have not experienced severe injuries, then your car accident may also be considered minor. Still, a common characteristic of a minor crash is that no one experienced any injuries.
For example, a minor car accident can result in busted tires, cracked windshields, busted headlights or taillights, or a slight fender bender. Generally, if you can drive away from the accident scene with your car, then it is considered a minor accident. Car seats are rarely affected in minor car accidents, but still, it depends on where the damage is located.
Moderate Car Crash Accident
When it comes to moderate car accidents, things take a different turn. For example, suppose you have a child safety seat. In that case, the NHTSA recommends that you should replace it in the event of a moderate car crash accident.
Moderate car crash accidents involve significant injuries, however, disabling permanent injuries fall into the severe car crash accident characteristics. Rear-end or side collisions are considered moderate car crash accidents. These sorts of accidents occur at speeds between 25 and 45 miles per hour, and you should definitely check your car seats and see if they need replacing after your recovery.
Severe Car Crash Accident
In severe car crash accidents, the last thing you have to worry about is your car seats, which will most likely be significantly affected. These accidents occur at fast highway speeds and involve large vehicles or semi-trucks.
Your car will be totaled, and the monetary losses are significant. Still, the saddest part comes in the form of permanently disabling injuries. It goes without saying that in these scenarios, you will most likely need a new car.
Should You Replace Your Car Seat After an Accident?
Although there was a time when car seats were replaced no matter the accident’s severity, nowadays, you should replace your car seat according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Some manufacturers always recommend that you should replace your car seat after an accident despite the severity of the accident. One such manufacturer is Graco.
Generally, five criteria depict whether or not you should replace your car seat after a minor car accident, and they are as follows:
- If the vehicle involved in the accident needed to be towed away from the accident scene, you should replace your car seat.
- If the vehicle door closest to the car seat was damaged, you should consider replacing it.
- Someone inside the vehicle was slightly injured
- The airbags in the vehicle deployed, and this includes seat belt airbags, side curtain airbags, seat side airbags, or knee bolster airbags.
- There is visible damage to the car seat, such as cracks, creases, stretched webbing, stress marks, broken top tether stitching, or broken pieces.
If the car seat is not the first seat situated near the damaged area, you shouldn’t worry about replacing it. However, a general inspection is recommended nonetheless.
What to Consider About Child Car Seat After an Accident
Keeping our children safe should be a top priority, and we shouldn’t take anything for granted. That’s why, if you were involved in a car crash, no matter how minor, you should definitely check the integrity of the child’s car seat.
You should consider replacing your child’s car seat even if the accident occurred while the seat was empty. It will experience some crash forces that could compromise its safety despite being empty.
For example, during a car crash, the car seat will experience a drag force, and the seat will be held back by the lower anchor straps or the tether straps. During this event, damage that isn’t necessarily visible at first glance might occur.
This will weaken the overall integrity of the car seat. If you are involved in another car accident, later on, the child’s car seat might not perform its functions at its full potential. Because of this, you should definitely check your child’s car seat after an accident and consider replacing it.
If your car seat manufacturer is Greco, for example, under the user manual for infant car seats, the Graco Snug Ride Classic Connect 35 states that you should replace the infant restraints and base after any sort of car crash, no matter how minor. Always adhere to your car seat manufacturer’s instructions for a safer ride!