Car accidents are one of the scariest things we can experience as parents—even if everyone is okay. Crashes can happen when you least expect it, and they can happen even when you’re doing everything right! That’s why it’s best to always be prepared by practicing defensive driving, reducing distractions, and keeping everyone strapped safely in their seats. 

But, when a crash does happen, what do you do with your child’s car seat? This is a question a lot of parents have, and the answer isn’t just as simple as trash it or keep using it. So, we’re dedicating our post today to car seat replacements after an accident. We’ll give you the info you’ll need to make the right, safe choice for your family! 

Here’s what to do with your car seat after a collision:

What To Do With Car Seat After Accident

It’s important to look into what to do with your car seat after an accident, even if there’s no visible damage. Because in a collision, your car seat is put under a lot of stress to protect your child, and there can be plenty of damage under the surface, making the car seat unfit to handle another crash. So, what should you do after an accident? First, we need to do some digging. 

Foremost, classify the type of crash you were in. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) classifies a minor crash by the following criteria: 

  • The car can be driven away from the crash site.
  • The door closest to the car seat was not damaged.
  • No one in the vehicle sustained any injuries.
  • No airbags deployed. 
  • There’s no visible damage to the car seat.

Once you know whether you were in a minor or major crash, check your owner’s manual for any information regarding collisions and car seat replacement. It may specify the action you should take! If it doesn’t, call the car seat manufacturer to get their recommendations. 

Do You Need to Replace Car Seat After An Accident?

A good rule of thumb is to replace your car seat after a crash. However, car seats can be expensive, and not every car seat manufacturer says car seat replacement is mandatory after a minor collision. Brands like Chicco, Clek, Graco, and Doona will tell you to replace it every time, whereas brands like Britax, Cosco, Maxi Cosi, and UPPAbaby approve reusing the car seat if it’s a minor crash. 

So, though there’s no car seat accident replacement law or clear-cut rules, you can find the information you’re looking for by calling your booster seat or car seat manufacturer and talking through the details of the crash. 

Does Insurance Cover Car Seat Replacement After an Accident?

If you do need to replace your car seat, don’t be quick to buy a new one before talking to your insurance provider! Some insurance companies replace your car seat if you’re in an accident. In some states like California and Illinois, insurance companies are even required to replace child safety seats in crashes. Contact your insurance provider to find out if this applies to you! 

How To Dispose Of Car Seat After Accident 

Option 1: Look into car seat recycling in your areas. 

First, research car seat recycling in your area. It may be something you can do in your community!

If you can, call them for instructions on recycling. 

Option 2: Consider the Target car seat trade-in event. 

If you’d rather not mess with the recycling or disposal process, the best thing to do is take your seat to the Target car seat trade-in event!

You simply take your car seat to Target during the special event (which is usually in April) and they take the car seat as-is and you’ll receive a 20% coupon to use on other baby gear. It’s the best deal! 

Option 3: Follow these steps to throw it away.

1. Cut the straps.

If you’d rather get rid of the car seat now, go ahead and start by cutting all the straps on the car seat and the car seat base (if applicable.) You can use a seat belt cutter tool to make it really easy! 

2. Remove all soft goods.

Next, rip out all the padding and fabric. Feel free to cut it too. The goal here is to make the car seat unusable. 

3. Write DO NOT USE with a Sharpie. 

Take a Sharpie next and write “DO NOT USE” over the inner foam and the outside stickers. 

4. Put all parts and pieces in a black trash bag.

Now, put all the pieces in a black trash bag and tie it closed. 

5. Toss it.

Simply toss it in your regular trash can! You’ve safely disposed of your damaged, expired, or otherwise unusable car seat. 

Has your car seat been in a crash?

Getting a crash with your child is a difficult experience, no matter how severe it is. We hope knowing what to do with your car seat doesn’t have to be a part of the stress! If your manufacturer says it’s time to replace, come back to us for help finding a replacement seat!

Use this post to understand the car seat buying process and then grab one of our Car Seat Buying Kits that makes the process easy, fast, and stress-free. At Safe in the Seat, we’re here to help!

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