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Which? Don't Buy child car seats

Don't Buy car seats fail to provide adequate protection in our tough crash tests or have another serious safety issue.

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We've been testing baby and child car seats since 1967. In those 50 years, we've crash tested hundreds of seats from all manufacturers, including Britax, Recaro, Graco and Nania. Our specially designed crash tests go further than the legal minimum standards manufacturers have to meet.

  • Our safety testing has uncovered seats where the forces of the crash have ripped the harness out of the seat, sending our test dummies flying. We've seen Isofix bases with connectors that break under the strain, slamming our test dummies straight into the passenger seat in front, and seat belt routing that's so poor it pulls violently up into the neck of our test dummies, or straight into their abdomens.  
  • We make an ergonomics assessment of each seat to make sure your child will be in the best position when travelling. Our checks include the position your baby will be held in while he or she travels, which is especially important for small babies; the support for the head and legs; how roomy the seat is for your child and how much space there is for them to grow.
  • Our experts, along with parents and children, try out each seat to see how easy it is to install in your car. If it's not installed correctly, it won't work properly in a crash.
  • We fit each car seat into three different makes and models of cars (using both Isofix and seat-belt modes) to find out how much space each child car seat takes up. Our tests will tell you if you'll have space to transport your other children safely while the car seat is in, or if you won't be able to use the front passenger seat.

Isn't car-seat safety regulated by law?

Yes. All child car seats sold in Europe are tested to ensure they comply with the United Nations regulation ECE R44/04 or R129 (which i-Size is a part of).

This regulation sets out the minimum standard of protection that the seat must offer in a crash, and only seats that comply with ECE R44/04 or R129 can legally be sold.

Why is Which? testing different? 

We don't think ECE R44/04 is 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.

Our video above shows you the differences between a Best Buy and Don't Buy seat, and how our tests highlight potential issues.

Choosing a Which? Best Buy child car seat, when installed and used correctly, will help give your child the best crash protection you can. 

Driving up car-seat standards

Over the last decade, many manufacturers have responded to the higher standard required in the Which? crash tests by improving their seats' side-impact protection, strength and ease of installation.

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.

Which? has been a leading voice in child car-seat safety and we will continue to test child car seats to our own tougher crash tests to highlight the best and worst products.

Find out which child car seats are Don’t Buys and which are Best Buys by taking out a £1 trial to Which?

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