How to Choose the Best Child Safety Seat for Your Used Car

Child car seats have come a long way in the last few years, as have traffic safety laws. Car seat manufacturers and parents alike have a better idea of how to help keep children safe in the car–and that includes choosing the right seat for each child.

Unfortunately, with so many different seats on the market, it can be difficult to choose the right one for your older vehicle. Every used car model has a different setup: LATCH anchors in different locations, seats that tilt at different angles, fold-down benches, and other unique considerations. Before you choose the car seats for your child and vehicle, consider some of these important steps.


First: Know the Laws

Both Kansas and Missouri have specific laws that are designed to keep children safe, and are as follows:

  • Rear-facing infant car seats are required until the child is at least 1 years of age.
  • Rear-facing car seats, either infant or convertible, should be used for children between the ages of 1 and 4 years.
  • Front-facing car seats can be used once the child meets the specific seat manufacturer’s guidelines, which is usually by weight (40 pounds is standard), height (4’9”), or age (4).
  • Booster seats can be used for children, aged 4 to 8 years, who weigh less than 80.
  • Seat belts should be used for children between 8 and 14 in the back seat.

Kansas and Missouri, while they do have strict child safety laws and stricter penalties for disobeying those laws, haven’t updated those laws in several years. In order to keep your child as safe as possible, go beyond the law to understand the best practices that will keep your children safe in the car. This includes:

  • Keeping infants in rear-facing seats from their first car ride until they’re at least two years of age, and up to four years, if possible.
  • Using forward-facing convertible car seats for children who no longer fit in rear-facing seats, younger than 8 years old, and weight over 80 lbs.
  • Keeping children in appropriate booster seats until they are at least 4’9″ tall and 80 lbs.

Note that safety recommendations are usually minimum recommendations. Many car seats are designed to allow larger children to fit safely in them, so always check your seat manufacturer’s manual.

Finding a Great Fit for Your Car

Not every child car seat is made for every vehicle or every situation. You may need to fit three car seats across a single row, create a specific configuration in your vehicle because of school pick-ups or fussy kids, or easily remove and reinstall a car seat on the fly. As you’re considering these factors, try some of these tips:

  • Try before you buy. Many stores will let you test out a car seat in your car before you buy it, saving you a lot of trouble in the long run. So take advantage and test the car seat in your vehicle. Make sure that you can get a strong, secure fit and that there aren’t any problems with attaching it to LATCH locations.
  • Read the manual. Yes, it’s a boring document, but it also contains a great deal of vital information that can make it easier for you to get a snug fit for your new car seat.
  • Choose a seat with your needs in mind. If you’re looking for a slim-fitting seat, Graco has a Slim Fit model that will make the most of tight spaces. The Diono Radian is known for its compactness, while the Clek Foonf is known for its slender design. But there are dozens of highly rated child safety seats from which to choose, so do your research!
  • Try different configurations. Trying to fit several kids in your used car? Rearrange them until you find the safest, most effective arrangement for everyone. Try to keep every seat tethered properly in place. Be willing to try out different combinations of seats, including moving one child up to a “bigger kid” seat in accordance with safety regulations.
  • Work with a CPST. A Child Passenger Safety Technician will be able to recommend the most effective car seat for your vehicle and your children, allowing you to get a better, safer fit.
  • Get your seat inspected. Kansas and Missouri have several certified locations that will inspect your installed car seat for free. Check the NHTSA site for installation and inspection centers near your home.

Choosing a car seat is a big decision–almost as big as choosing your car. So make it count!


If you need a safe used car in the Kansas City area, consider taking a trip to McCarthy Pre-Owned Supercenter. We have hundreds and thousands of used SUVs, cars, trucks, and minivans for sale, making us one of the largest used car lots in Blue Springs, MO. Get pre-approved for used car financing online, then call us at 816-224-7500 or visit our Blue Springs pre-owned car dealership at 3030 NW South Outer Rd. We’ll set you and your family up with a reliable vehicle.