Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I think there is a problem with my safety seat?
How can I check my child safety seat for recalls?
What should I do if my car seat is recalled?
How can I register my child safety seat for future recall notices?
Can I reuse my child safety seat after a crash?
Can I use a second-hand child safety seat?
When can I turn my child forward-facing?
When will my child be ready for a booster seat?
Is my child ready for an adult safety belt?


What should I do if I think there is a problem with my child safety seat?

 If you think your child safety seat has a problem that could be a safety detect, call the child safety seat manufacturer and the DOT Auto Safety Hotline at 1-888-DASH-2-DOT (1-888-327-4236) to report it. Many serious problems are discovered from reports by parents.

 


How can I check my child safety seat for recalls?  

  • Call the toll-free number provided by the child safety seat company or visit its web site for information. The contact information for the child safety seat company can be found on one of the labels attached to your child’s safety seat.
  • Call the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's toll-free Auto Safety Hotline at 1-888-DASH-2-DOT (1-888-327-4236), or visit the NHTSA website at www.nhtsa.dot.gov .

If the child safety seat is recalled, be sure to get it fixed right away!


What should I do if my child safety seat is recalled?  

Many problems are minor, but some are serious, all problems should be fixed as soon as possible. If you do not have another child safety seat to use, keep using the recalled one while you wait for the kit, if the recall notice says you can. Using a recalled child safety seat is almost always safer than letting a child ride in a safety belt. Have your recalled child safety seat fixed right away, purchase another child safety seat, and / or follow the child safety seat manufacturer's instructions on continued use of the child safety seat.

 


How can I register my child safety seat for future recall notices?

New child safety seats come with registration cards. When you buy a new child safety seat, be sure to register it. If you have an older child safety seat, call the Auto Safety Hotline at 1-888-DASH-2-DOT (1-888-327-4236) or the child safety seat manufacturer to find out how to register it. Child safety seat manufacturers need you to register your child safety seat so that they can send you a letter if the child safety seat is recalled. If you move, be sure to notify the manufacturer.

 


Can I reuse my child safety seat after a crash?

Current research shows that child safety seats are very tough and still provide good protection even after being involved in a minor crash. A minor crash is one in which ALL of the following apply:

  • Careful inspection of the child safety seat including looking under movable padding, doesn't show any cracks or warping that might have been caused by the crash,
  • The vehicle in which the child safety seat was installed was able to be driven away from the crash,
  • The vehicle door nearest the child safety seat was undamaged,
  • There were no injuries to any of the vehicle occupants, and
  • The air bags (if present) did not deploy .  

It is very important to NEVER use a child safety seat that has been involved in a moderate to severe crash. Talk with your car insurance company about replacement of all child safety seats that have been involved in a crash.

 


Can I use a second-hand child safety seat?

Use the checklist below. If all statements can be checked, then the second-hand child safety seat may be okay to use.

  • The child safety seat has labels stating its date of manufacture and model number. (This information will be needed to find out if the child safety seat has a recall or if the child safety seat is too old).

  • The child safety seat has no recalls (Contact the manufacturer, some problems can be fixed).

  • The child safety seat is less than 6 years old. (Normal wear and tear, and exposure to the elements, may cause the seat not to work as well after 6 years).

  • The child safety seat has all its parts (Some parts can be ordered from the manufacturer).

  • The child safety seat has its instruction book. (This can be ordered from the manufacturer).

  • You know the complete crash history of the child safety seat and it meets guidelines for continued use.

 


When can I turn my child forward-facing?

The safest way for infants and growing baby's to ride is rear-facing in the back seat. Rear-facing child safety seats protect the growing babies head, neck and back in a crash. Your child should ride rear-facing until at least 20 pounds and one year of age, longer if possible to protect his/her developing muscles and bones.


When will my child be ready for a booster seat?

A child should ride in a child safety seat with an internal harness until they reach the maximum harness limits. Most forward-facing child safety seats have a harness limit of 40 pounds. If your child is riding in a convertible child safety seat with a harness limit of 40 pounds, after 40 pounds he/she should be put into a booster seat. If your child is riding in a combination car seat with a harness limit of 40 pounds, after 40 pounds the harness should be removed and your child safety seat can be used as a booster seat. Check your child safety seat  instructions carefully to determine the harness limits of your child safety seat.


Is my child ready for an adult safety belt?

 Safety belts are designed for small adults who are at least 80 pounds and 4 feet 9 inches tall. Until age eight, most children have not developed strong hipbones, and their legs and body are to short for the adult safety belt to fit correctly. A safety belt that does not fit properly can cause severe internal injuries to a child. A booster seat positions the safety belt properly on a child's growing body.

You can determine if your child is ready for an adult safety belt by taking this 5-step test in every vehicle your child rides in. Your child should:

  • Be tall enough to sit without slouching,
  • Keep his/her back against the vehicle seat back,
  • Keep his/her knees completely bent over the edge of the seat,
  • Keep his/her feet flat on the floor, and
  • Be able to stay comfortably seated this way for the entire trip.

If the safety belt does not fit properly, your child should use a belt-positioning booster seat. Illinois law requires children to use booster seats until age eight; however, if your child does not fit properly in a safety belt at age eight DO NOT RUSH YOUR CHILD OUT OF A BOOSTER SEAT! The safest way for your child to travel may be with a booster seat.