Can a child restraint system be repaired?

A collision can cause imperceptible damage to harnesses, fasteners or the structure of the CRS

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The question of whether a child car seat can be repaired can arise for any parent after having suffered a car accident. In most cases, it is probably not a major collision, but rather a minor one that leaves no injuries or after-effects on the passengers, just a big scare. This question may also arise if your child car seat has been damaged by an unexpected fall or by daily use.

On the other hand, this question is often dismissed out of ignorance, but just as with a motorbike helmet or an adult seat belt, when you are involved in a collision you must remember that any restraint system or protection should be checked thoroughly after a collision. The problem lies in deciding who should check the child seat.

A collision can cause imperceptible damage to harnesses, fasteners or the structure of the CRS

As a general rule, approved child restraint systems are tested for a single crash event. In other words, it is ensured that, when properly fastened and positioned in the car, a CRS will protect the occupants in the event of  a collision.There is no guarantee a CRS will be able to protect the child beyond that event, and this is due to the forces and stresses that the harnesses, fasteners or anchorage system have to withstand.

During a collision, the forces that the CRS must withstand are enormous and could damage the structure, bend the steel or generate invisible cracks that cannot be detected by simple inspection. These are the most compelling reasons, moreover, for recommending that a CRS should not be repaired unless it is repaired by the manufacturer, who can best determine the extent and importance of the damage.

In addition to this, it should be noted that if the ISOFIX system is not used and the CRS is secured by seat belts, the latter may also have been damaged and should also be checked. Therefore, if you are involved in a collision you should consider replacing the child restraint system as a precaution.

A very different case would be if the padding materials become deteriorated, for example, or other elements of the CRS that are in no way related to harnesses, fasteners or anchor points. In such cases, these parts can be repaired in specialised shops. But in the event that any sensitive part of the CRS is damaged, the device must be replaced.

In other countries’ safety policies, e.g. the USA, we can see that CRS replacement is always recommended in the case of moderate and severe collisions, but not mandated in the case of minor collisions.

How to know whether a collision is minor? The following conditions must be met all at once:

  1. The vehicle can continue on its way without any problem;
  2. The door closest to the CRS system has no damage at all;
  3. None of the occupants is injured.
  4. The airbags have not deployed AND
  5. There is no visible damage to the CRS.

In such cases, a change of CRS is usually not necessary. However, we recommend that you thoroughly check the child restraint system and, when in doubt, it is advisable to have it checked by a specialist.

What about second-hand child restraint systems?

The reasons given here above as to whether or not a CRS should be used after a collision are more than enough to make it clear that a second-hand device is not something we can easily rely on. Not only because of the possibility of the car seat having been involved in a collision but also because we do not know the history of the device.

The history of a child restraint system can be very diverse, and when a person offers their child restraint for sale they usually have no certificate of the safety of the device, no accident record, and may not even have registered a possible recall of the CRS.
As with cars, a service recall may be triggered by the detection of a production fault by the manufacturer, who withdraws the product from the shops and proceeds to repair or replace it without affecting the warranty or the safety of the device.