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Taking your Own Child Car Seat in the Rental Car

By: Tracy Whitelaw - Updated: 7 May 2013 | comments*Discuss
Child Car Seat Hiring A Car Contract

Every parent worries about their child’s safety and well-being at all times, especially on long road journeys when they may be strapped into a child restraint or baby seat for lengthy periods of time. For most parents, there will be a decision as to whether to take their own child safety seat or rely on that of the car rental companies if they’re hiring a car. There are a number of points to consider when deciding, but overall, it’s probably more beneficial to take your own child safety seat.

Car Hire Companies and Baby Seats

Many car hire companies will offer the optional extra of a child safety restraint to people who are hiring cars. It can sometimes be easier for people to simply hire a baby seat when they get to their destination as it means that it doesn’t need to be carried in the plane as extra luggage. Most larger car hire companies will have a number of different sized restraints available, so you must let them know in advance the age of your child and the type of restraint you need.

However, some car companies are no longer offering child safety seats as an option, simply because they don’t feel confident enough that the seat will be safe.

Most baby seats are bought to withstand an impact only once and to be properly cared for throughout the life of their usage. When it comes to baby seats in a rental, there’s no guarantee that it will have been cared for so there may be deficiencies in its safety mechanisms. For this reason, there are a number of extremely important checks that should be carried out before you accept a car rental baby seat.

Crucial Checks for Car Rental Baby Seats

  • Do not use a seat belt that is more than 5 years old
  • Ask for a copy of the car seat manual if it is available
  • Check the seatbelts are positioned correctly in the right holds on the seat
  • Test that the buckles don’t detach when you pull hard on them
  • Check the seat for any signs of wear and tear – in particular look for, twisting, broken buckles, cracking, or harness deterioration

Unfortunately many used car seats don’t show outward signs of weakness, so deterioration may be difficult to spot. You should consider checking the car seat as an essential aspect of your rental agreement and don’t leave the lot with something you’re even the slightest bit concerned about.

Horror Stories about Car Hire Companies and Baby Seats

Many car hire companies do try to maintain a number of new baby seats for their customers to ensure that they’re providing the correct service and type of restraint for children. Sadly, many fail to provide seats that meet the high standard we should all want for our children. There are numerous horror stories around that tell tales of car rental baby seats being dirty, smelly, in bad states of deterioration or even front facing (which are now banned in many countries).

As well as this, there are often parts missing, no manual and incorrect fittings. Some larger car hire companies will have a technician fit the seat properly for you, but many are happy for you to fit it yourself. If you do so, you risk incorrect fitting and potentially putting your child at risk.

Taking Your Own Child Seat

Overall it’s certainly worthwhile taking your own child seat if you’re planning to rent a car. You can have it fitted by a professional and will have the security and peace of mind that the seat is the best you can get for your child. Knowing that it hasn’t been through any drops, collisions or other incidents means that you’ll be 100% certain that you have the right size, shape and style of restraint for your child. Kiddicare have a great range of baby seats, and child booster seats.

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Great.Very well-written, and incredibly useful. its really interesting to many readers. I really appreciate this, thanks optional extra of a child safety restraint to hiring cars.
James - 7-May-13 @ 6:48 AM
How do you know that your child seat... 'hasn't been through any drops, collisions or other incidents' after you have left it in the hands of airport baggage control?!
yummymummy - 11-Apr-11 @ 4:44 PM
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