How to spot a counterfeit car seat

On Your Side is watching out for your family. Here's what you need to know to spot counterfeit...
On Your Side is watching out for your family. Here's what you need to know to spot counterfeit car seats.(Arizona's Family)
Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 3:59 PM CDT
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - With the cost of just about everything increasing, lots of parents are looking for bargains, especially on bigger purchases like car seats. But that hunt for a deal could be dangerous if you end up with a counterfeit car seat. Jim Garnand, a certified car seat technician, has helped moms and dads install thousands of car seats over the years. “Every so often, you come across a counterfeit one,” he said.

Telltale signs of a fake car seat include fewer labels, no chest clip, and a flimsy design. Garnand showed On Your Side an example. “You can see it’s not even cross-stitched,” Garnand said. “It’s much thinner strap and the whole seat weighs probably as much as the padding on this other one.” We put it to the test, comparing the weight of a real car seat and a fake one. The real car seat weighs more than 20 pounds, while the counterfeit seat is less than five pounds. “Some counterfeit car seats are probably more dangerous than no car seat at all,” Garnand said.

Blanca Villasenor, a senior injury prevention specialist at Phoenix Children’s says it is critical to purchase a car seat from a trusted source. Big retailers are a safe option.

“There are a lot of fake websites out there. You want to look for the website itself of the manufacturer. If you’re still not sure that you’re at the right website, you can always call the manufacturer and just verify their product name and number as well,” Villasenor said. “With those counterfeit car seats, they probably have not been crash-tested so it’s unknown how that counterfeit car seat is going to perform or how it’s going to protect the child.”

If you already bought a car seat and think it might be a fake, take it to a car seat technician who can evaluate it. If it is counterfeit, dismantle it, cut the straps, and throw it away. Consumers can use the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Car Seat Finder to search car seat ratings.