How do I Choose the Best Rental Car Seat?

Autumn Rivers

Many rental car agencies allow customers to rent car seats when traveling with infants. Your child's safety depends on your discernment when it comes to accepting a temporary car seat for your rental car, so it's good to learn some details to consider first. One of the most important aspects to ascertain is that the rental car seat is in good working order, with no cracks or broken buckles. Another detail you can usually detect right away is its cleanliness; a dirty car seat can result in your child picking up germs during your travels. Additionally, make sure the seat fits properly in the rental car, is the correct size for your infant and has not expired.

A rental car seat.
A rental car seat.

The rental car seat you choose should be free of cracks and dents in the plastic, because they can make the entire seat too weak to properly protect your child in an accident. Look over the entire seat carefully to find any weak spots or spots that show excessive wear and tear. Inspect the harness and buckles, too, before you accept the temporary car seat. Though a twisted belt can be easily remedied, a buckle that does not latch is unacceptable. If you are able to latch the buckle, pull on the harness to make sure it stays in place.

Rental car seats should be in good condition in case of an accident.
Rental car seats should be in good condition in case of an accident.

Some rental car companies may forget to clean their rental car seats before offering them to customers. Thus, while you are inspecting the seat for damage, take its cleanliness into consideration. If there are crumbs, dirt, or sticky areas on the rental car seat, request a different one or wipe down the seat with soap and water or antibacterial wipes. You should also turn the car seat upside down to get rid of any crumbs. These steps should allow your infant to sit in the rental car seat without getting sick from picking up old food or bacteria left the seat by its last occupant.

Check the expiration date of the rental car seat, because some agencies forget to throw out old seats. This kind of product is not considered safe for use after it expires; the plastic tends to break down after about five years, making it too weak to withstand the impact of a car accident. The rental car seat should list its expiration date on its bottom or side, or at least its date of manufacture, which should not be more than five years prior.

While you are looking for this information, also check for weight and height limits, which should be listed in the same area as the date. If you cannot find it, ask the car rental agency for the manual, because using a seat that is too large or too small for your child will not offer the proper protection in an accident. Be sure the car seat also can be properly installed in the car you're renting. Some car seats are not compatible with all cars, and improper installation also affects the seat's effectiveness.

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