Your Child Car Seat Inspection and Safety Check Resource

How to get a child car seat inspection and safety check from a certified technician, plus FAQs for using a child car seat and ensuring your little one’s safetyFree Child Sleeping photo and picture

There are no car crash cases more tragic and heartbreaking for us as auto accident lawyers than the ones that involve infants and children. Children are the “most precious cargo” in our car, which is why every parent should know the proper ways to use a child car seat — and where to go for a child car seat inspection and safety check by a certified technician. By doing so, you’re taking a crucial step to ensure your children’s safety.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that an estimated 46% of car and booster seats are misused in a way that could reduce their effectiveness. So, to help protect children in car accidents and to prevent injuries due to improperly installed car seats, we encourage all parents to get a car seat inspection and safety check done by a child passenger safety technician.

According the Centers for Disease Control, child car seat use reduces the risk for death to infants by 71% and to toddlers (1-4 years old) by 54% in passenger vehicles, while booster seat use reduces the risk for serious injury by 45% for children ages 4-8 years when compared with seat belt use alone.

Here are answers to some common questions about child car seats. They’ll help you keep your little ones safe and secure while traveling:

Where can I go to get my car seat installed?

Who can check car seat installation? These sites provide a list of car seat inspection sites within your area:

What is the child car seat law in Michigan?

The child car seat law in Michigan as it stands now states:

  • Children under 4 years of age must be “properly” secured in a “child restraint system” and positioned in a motor vehicle’s “rear seat.”
  • Children 4 years of age or older, but less than 8 years of age, and “who [are] less than 4 feet 9 inches in height” must be “properly secured in a child restraint system in accordance with the child restraint manufacturer’s and vehicle manufacturer’s instructions …” (Note: Michigan’s child car seat law does not address the issue of the positioning of such children, i.e., whether they must be seated in the rear seat or whether they may be seated in either the rear or the front seats.)
  • Children 8 years of age or older, but less than 16 years of age, must wear a seat belt — regardless of where they are seated in the vehicle, i.e., the front seat or the back seat.
  • Children 16 years of age or older — if seated in the front seat as either a passenger or an operator — must wear a seat belt.

How can I be sure I have a safe toddler car seat?

When using a child car seats, Krystal Kleidon, a paramedic who runs the Australia-based women’s blog Project Hot Mess, says parents should always be sure they are strapping their children in properly by determining:

  • How tight am I making the straps on my child’s seat?
  • Can my child pull his arms out of them?
  • Can I only fit one or two fingers underneath the straps?

Is it OK to get a used child car seat?

We highly advise you not to purchase a used child car seat. You may be risking your child’s life when you use a previously owned child car seat or booster seat. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends that you don’t buy or use a used car seat that:

  • Is more than 6 years old or has passed its expiration date. Plastic gets brittle as it gets older, so a seat that’s too old could break in a crash. You should check the manual or call the manufacturer to get a specific expiration date for that particular model of car seat.
  • Is missing parts or its instruction manual.
  • Doesn’t have a label with the date of manufacture and model number. You will need these to check to see whether the car seat has been recalled.
  • Has previously been involved in a car crash. The seat may look OK on the outside, but it could have unseen cracks or fractures within it that stemmed from an accident, making it unsafe.

Is it absolutely necessary to fill out the registration card that came with my new child car seat?

Yes! This way the manufacturer can contact you directly if the child car seat is being recalled and give you further instructions, such as where to get the seat fixed or how you may obtain a repair kit. With manufacturers also offering online registration, you’ll be able to receive recall or safety notices through email or text.

Is it OK for me to strap my child into the child car seat while she’s wearing a winter coat?

No. A puffy winter coat requires loosening the car seat straps, providing a less secure fit. Instead, to keep your child warm, drape a blanket or coat over your child atop the strapped, secured harness.

How long should my child be in a rear facing car seat?

Generally speaking, children must be in a rear facing car seat until they’re 2 years old or until they reach the highest weight or height limit recommended for their car seat. This is based on both Michigan’s child car seat law and the recommendations of the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning.

When should I switch my child from a forward facing car seat to a booster car seat?

According to the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning:

  • For a five-point harness, forward facing car seat: “All children 2 years or older, or those who have outgrown the weight or height limit of their rear-facing seat, should ride in a forward-facing car seat with a harness for as long as possible up to the highest weight or height allowed by the car seat.”
  • For a booster car seat: “All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their seat should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle lap/shoulder belt fits properly, typically when the child reaches 4’9″ tall at 8-12 years old.”

Where can I learn more about a child car seat inspection and overall safety?

Among the best resources for child car seat safety:

Learn more about how to protect yourself and loved ones in our Car Accident Resource Center