Unsafe Rental Car Seats: Rental Agency Puts Infant at Risk

deliciousbaby

New member
Some of the regulars on this site will remember a story I posted earlier this year about unsafe car seats at a car rental agency in San Diego. After our story ran, ABC picked it up, and the company, Advantage Rent-a-Car, promised it would never happen again.

Well it did...

http://www.deliciousbaby.com/journal/2008/jul/27/danger-rent-car-rental-agency-puts-infant-risk/

The agency rented an infant seat manufactured in 2000 to a mom and her six month old daughter. I flew down myself to check it out before writing my article, and what I found shocked and upset me.

I got a lot of feedback and help from this forum the last time around, so I would like to ask for your help again.

I know that this problem is not limited to just one rental car agency (or just one location) and I'm documenting more stories like Barbaras in an effort to bring more attention to this issue and to get the rental car agencies to change their practices.

If you have personal experience with renting a car seat (good or bad) please send me email and let me know. I will not share your information unless you give me permission. I would also like to hear from anyone who is interested in doing what I did in their own hometown.

Thank you so much
Debbie Dubrow
email: debbie AT deliciousbaby DOT com
http://www.deliciousbaby.com
 

TechnoGranola

Forum Ambassador
WOW! Very scary!

I have one question. You mention, more than once, in your article that seats expire after 5 years. One time you state it is CA law. So, does CA require you to discontinue use of a car seat BEFORE the manufacturer's expiry date? I thought the only seat with a 5 year expiry was the Peg Perego infant seats. Graco infant seats can get you up to 7 years, other manufacturer's are 6, etc. Do manufacturers have to make seats with different expiry dates for CA?
 

scatterbunny

New member
So sad to hear this is still a problem. :(

A couple things I noticed as I read the article:

*the photo at the top shows an incorrectly installed infant seat.

*this quote is confusing, since Graco says their seats are good for six years (sometimes closer to seven, since I believe they use December as the standard month it expires). What part of CA state law indicates only five years is acceptable?

She was shocked to find out later that it had been manufactured in 2000. California law mandates that it should have been retired in 2005.
*this quote makes it sound like installing with the LATCH system is safer than installing with a seatbelt, and that CPSTs recommend installing with LATCH over a seatbelt when available. That isn't entirely accurate, however. LATCH was designed to simplify installation, since there are many different seatbelt locking types; however, a LATCH install is not always easier, and it does not always result in a more secure installation. Not having the base, though, is a problem, since, in my experience, installing most infant seats without the base has a definite learning curve.

Though the car seat had clearly been used with a base (which would have included the latch belt recommended by most safety experts) the base was nowhere to be found.
*in reading the comments, I see lots of folks mentioning lap children on flights, and how "lucky" they were that their children were old enough to be forward-facing, since a rear-facing seat would have been much harder to install. It might be nice to include some information on carseat safety in general in another blog entry, maybe directing folks here? At the least, talk about why lap children are not safe on a flight, and why rear-facing beyond the usual 1 year old/20 pounds is safest, and why harnessing to at least 40 pounds is safest, and why boostering until a child passes the 5 step test (as opposed to simply meeting state minimums to do without the booster) is safest.


I hope I didn't come across as nit-picky, I love your blog, and think you're doing a great service to families with this series of articles. :)
 

LISmama810

Admin - CPS Technician
OP- Thanks for posting that! I do remember your previous story.

I have one question. You mention, more than once, in your article that seats expire after 5 years. One time you state it is CA law. So, does CA require you to discontinue use of a car seat BEFORE the manufacturer's expiry date? I thought the only seat with a 5 year expiry was the Peg Perego infant seats. Graco infant seats can get you up to 7 years, other manufacturer's are 6, etc. Do manufacturers have to make seats with different expiry dates for CA?
California's car seat law (general) does not specify a date. However, according to the DMV link in OP's story, there does appear to be a five-year limit for car rental agencies. I didn't know that before now--interesting.
 

TechnoGranola

Forum Ambassador
OP- Thanks for posting that! I do remember your previous story.



California's car seat law (general) does not specify a date. However, according to the DMV link in OP's story, there does appear to be a five-year limit for car rental agencies. I didn't know that before now--interesting.
AH, the 5 year limit is specific to rental agencies. Now THAT makes more sense!

I think it would be great if references to the 5 year limit in the blog could be updated to reflect that the 5 year limit is for rental agencies to follow. Else, I think it might confuse some parents.
 

deliciousbaby

New member
Thanks so much for the feedback.

Yes, the CA law is that rental car agencies cannot rent seats more than 5 years old. In the case of Barbara's car seat, it was both past the legal rental date according to California law and the expiration date printed on the seat.

I'd be delighted to link to more information about car seat safety. I hesitate to write my own articles on this subject since the information is so technical, changes over time, and different sources often give different information. Since I'm not a car-seat tech, it's tough for me to navigate.

What resources should I be linking to? I will add them to the bottom of the unsafe car seat story & also to the page about flying with carseats.

Finally, thanks for all the support so far. This is an important issue. It's easy to say that parents should never rent car seats (and I agree with that statement) but the reality is that most parents don't know the risks & that the rental agencies really should be doing better. There's just no excuse for a for-pay service that puts children at risk like this and I think it's up to all of us to hold the agencies accountable to do better.

Any other feedback? Anyone have a story they want to share?

Debbie
 

TerraJo

New member
:jaw: Wow! We actually went to this Advantage Rental Car a few years back. We had a car reserved, got to the place, saw the condition of the car seats and hightailed it over to Hertz! (Which had very nice car seats by the way, all wrapped in plastic and smelling like it had just been cleaned) It was disgusting. They brought out a variety of seats and they were all horrible. My son was around 1 1/2 or 2 at the time and the seats that they had for him were filthy and were not car safe AT ALL. I didn't realize that this had become news.

And if these are the seats that they had in 2007 ( http://www.deliciousbaby.com/journal/2007/dec/22/advantage-rent-cars-frightening-car-seats/ ) I know for a FACT that at least two of them were there when we went in 2005. Nasty!
 

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