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Can you spot a non-compliant or counterfeit car seat?

Here are 5 Tips to help you identity a Non-compliant or Counterfeit Car Seat


Medical providers and car seat technicians have noticed a recent increase in the number of counterfeit car seats being purchased by unknowing parents. This is a major safety concern, as lower-priced knock-offs tempt well-meaning parents but may not protect their children in a crash. Counterfeit seats are sold across the web, including on major online retailer websites that allow third party sellers, such as Amazon, eBay, Walmart or Temu. Do you know how to spot a counterfeit seat? Read on to learn the red flags of non-compliant seats.

Risks of Counterfeit Car Seats

Counterfeit car seats are life threatening for child passengers, as they do not offer the same protections as car seats that meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). These seats are often made with cheaper material that does not hold up in a crash, or are missing key safety features. To be compliant in the U.S., all car seats must include the following:

  • A 5-point harness with straps that go over the hips and shoulders
  • A chest clip
  • A splitter plate behind the seat
  • Labeling with specific weight and height limits
  • Manufacturing label with name, model number, date of manufacture and/or expiration dates
  • Registration card and manual


Tips to Spot Non-Compliant or Counterfeit Car Seats

1.       Look for labels

Car seat labels are a good indicator of a legitimate car seat. All legitimate car seats will contain a manufacturing label with name, model number, date of manufacture and/or expiration dates, and a warning label with a yellow header that states, “This child restraint system conforms to all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS).” The labels will be in both English and Spanish. In addition to missing labels, look for grammatical errors on labels, which are another red flag.

2.       Check for missing parts

As stated above, all seats in the U.S. must have specific parts to be compliant with federal guidelines. Those parts include: A 5-point harness with straps that go over the hips and shoulders, a chest clip, and a splitter plate located on the back of the seat. If a car seat is missing one or more of these parts, especially the chest clip, it is a sign that the car seat is non-compliant with U.S. standards or is a counterfeit.

3.       Make sure that the manual and registration card are included

Car seats must be sold with a manual and a registration card. Any car seat that is not sold with these required documents is more likely to be non-compliant or illegitimate.

4.       Register your car seat

Registering your car seat is always a good idea. This is how the manufacturer will be able to alert you to any recalls or other pertinent information regarding the seat. However, registering your car seat can also help prevent you from using counterfeit seats, since each car seat is connect to the manufacture with a unique serial number. If you are able to successfully register your seat, it helps verify the legitimacy of the seat because some counterfeits will have fake or duplicate serial numbers that would not register properly.

5.       Exercise caution when buying from third-party sellers

When purchasing car seats second-hand from online sellers, it is important to understand the risks. You are not able to verify the history of the car seat, nor the authenticity. Try to buy car seats from reputable sources, such as directly from the car seat manufacturer, or other major retailers.


Next Steps

Before purchasing a car seat, be sure to check for red flags using these tips. If you determine that you have a counterfeit car seat, discontinue use immediately and contact the retailer to notify them that they sold a counterfeit. You may even be able to recover the cost of the seat if you used a credit card or purchased through a major retailer such as Amazon. If you want assistance evaluating your car seat, or with car seat installation, find a technician near you.


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