After an Accident & Disposal

Child restraints are designed as a life saving device, and as such once they have been under heavy force or pressure their functionality is then unknown. While the seat may still "look fine", the strain on components may have done enough damage that the seat may not function correctly if continued to be used, and pose potential harm to your child.

We strongly recommend (along with pretty much all child restraint manufacturers) that after any impact, regardless of size, or type, that your child's seat be replaced. You'll find a list of ideas to help you safely dispose of your car seat. The biggest concern is that the seat may otherwise be reused, and doing so, its safety function is unknown.

Over time plastic and components used on car seats break down due to the elements, including harmful UV rays, environmental changes, and daily use. Car seats also see ever improving technology, standards amendments and so on, and as such a seat of 5-6 years old may no longer present modern features that offer greater protection to your child, and more so with seats 10+ years old.

Degradation of car seats is not always visible to the human eye, and there's no way to "test" the integrity of the child restraint (at least without further damaging the seat). A seat cannot be recertified to be used after its expiration, or after an impact.

It pays to check with your insurance company if they cover child restraints as part of your policy. Could you afford to buy a new seat after an accident if your policy does not cover car seats?

*Some seats have a limited life span of only five years while others a maximum life span of twelve years from the date of manufacture. If you're unsure how old your child restraint is, or want to know if it has expired refer to our page "Manufacture and Expiry Dates" for more information.

If your seat shows any of the following, do not use the seat and immediately take it for disposal,

  • A broken seat shell anywhere on the seat
  • Torn or fraying harness webbing anywhere on the seat
  • Glass shards on the seat, under the cover and in small gaps
  • Stress marks anywhere on the seat shell, these look like the marks a twisted milk or fizzy bottle get.
    cracked car seat shell The seat on the left shows obvious damage to the underside of the capsule. This seat would not be safe to continue using. Not all damage is visible however and the seat function is unknown following a crash or extreme force.

Check with your local Plunket Car Seat Rental Scheme to see if they offer child restraint disposal in your area. There may be a small fee for this service.


If your town offers an inorganic dry collection you can dispose of your car seat this way, however we suggest you do the following

  • Remove the cover
  • Cut the harness
  • Destroy the plastic shell
  • Write over the seat "Not safe for use in a vehicle" if you are not able to destroy the shell - please note that people may still try to use the seat shell, this is why we advise that you destroy it using a sledge hammer or similar.

As this prevents them from being re-used, on sold or being given to a family in need.

Should neither be an option in your area, please follow the above steps and place into your general waste collection. Should you have some great ideas on how else to use it, or have done something creative with an old seat, feel free to share it with us.