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Discontinued Don't Buy child car seats

What is a Don't Buy child car seat?

By Lisa Galliers

Article 1 of 13

Put us to the test

Our Test Labs compare features and prices on a range of products. Try Which? to unlock our reviews. You'll instantly be able to compare our test scores, so you can make sure you don't get stuck with a Don't Buy.

What is a Don't Buy child car seat?

Any child car seat that scores 40% or less in our car seat test automatically becomes a Which? Don't Buy. 

A car seat can become a Don't Buy for several reasons:

  • it performs so poorly in one or more of our crash tests
  • our testing uncovers a serious safety issue
  • it's so difficult to install, there's too high a risk of getting it wrong, which would reduce the crash protection it's suppose to provide
  • or because of another safety reason such as not being able to get the harness tight enough to secure a baby properly

It is our recommendation that you do not buy a 'Don't Buy' car seat because our testing shows it doesn't provide the best protection as other higher-scoring models we've tested.

If you already own one of our Don't Buy, read the review to find out what we recommend you do. If we recommend it to be replaced with a better model, you can find our highest scoring Best Buy child car seats.

Isn't car seat safety regulated?

Yes. All child car seats sold in Europe are tested to ensure that they comply with the United Nations regulation ECE R44 or R129.

These regulations set out the minimum standard of protection that a seat must offer in a crash, and only seats that comply with ECE R44.03 or ECE R44.04 or R129 can legally be sold.

So what's the problem?

Which? believes that ECE R44 is not rigorous enough. So since 2001 we've carried out our own independent and more demanding crash tests of child car seats with a group of European car clubs and consumer organisations. 

Crash test video: good and bad child car seats

Not all car seats protect equally well in our more exacting crash tests – scroll up to watch our crash test video and see the difference between good and bad results in our tests. Beware – the footage can be a bit harrowing.

Our more stringent tests differ from ECE R44 in several key ways:

  • Our front crash test is carried out at a higher speed than ECE R44 – about 40mph instead of 30mph.
  • We include a side impact crash test, which ECE R44 does not require.
  • Our side impact testing is the equivalent to two cars crashing into each other at 30mph

Our car seat test experts believe these tests are more representative of real-life crash situations and that choosing a Which? Best Buy child car seat will help to give your child the best crash protection.

Driving up car seat standards 

Over the last decade many manufacturers have responded to the higher standard required to get a good score in the Which? child car seat tests by improving the side impact protection, strength, and ease of installation of their child car seats. 

But until the regulatory tests that all child car seats must pass to be sold are as stringent as we think they should be, we will continue to test child car seats to our own higher standard.

How we test car seats - find out more about why our reviews are different