It’s a regular Monday morning and I’m driving my little boy to childcare. I strap him into his car seat, crank up The Wiggles and off we go.
It’s an everyday scenario for so many parents. But recently I discovered that the safety of car seats and baby capsules – as well as other parts of our cars – can sometimes be deceiving.
Earlier this year, several parents in the US were shocked when they tried to take their babies home from the hospital when staff identified their capsules as dangerous, missing important safety architecture like chest clips.
They were later revealed to be low-quality and incapable of protecting a baby in an impact. According to a report on US site Motherly, counterfeiters and criminals have been selling dangerous fake baby capsules and hybrid car seat/strollers, even on reputable sites like Amazon, placing children at risk.
I couldn’t believe it. But when I looked back at what I did before my son arrived, I was relieved to realise it was the right thing. We’d carefully chosen a baby capsule to get fitted in the weeks before our son arrived, and it filled us with confidence. We knew we’d be able to bring him home from the hospital safely, ready to start our life as a family of three.
But how could us parents be sure our cars are as a safe as possible? I asked for a little advice from an expert – Fabiola Dos Santos, Senior Brand Protection Specialist at Toyota.
To avoid purchasing a counterfeit baby capsule or seat, Fabiola advises parents to select and buy from an authorised retailer who sells genuine car parts.
“Always ask, how can I be sure? Counterfeit shoes won’t harm or kill you, but a counterfeit baby capsule could and even experts struggle to tell them apart,” Fabiola tells Mamamia. “If you’re buying online, the risk is even higher. If the deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is.”
It’s worth noting that in Australia, it’s the law for all children to be safely fastened in the correct seat for their size and age, to help prevent serious injury in the case of a crash. For newborns up to six months, this is an approved rearward facing restraint.
When it comes to your child’s safety, it’s always best to buy this kind of item from a brand’s website, rather than taking a risk with a third party.
Safety goes beyond car seats, though. The most straightforward car check you should do before driving your newest passenger home is “to take your vehicle to your local dealer for a car service, to check that it’s been fitted with genuine parts only”, according to Fabiola.
“We wouldn’t buy a capsule or a stroller that’s unsafe,” Fabiola explains. “So it makes perfect sense to do your research with car parts.”
In a recent survey of parents, the Federal Chamber of Auto Industries, Australia’s peak body for the auto industry, found that for every 10 hours research for a baby capsule, most parents don’t know what their car will be repaired with. The majority indicated spending just 15 minutes researching their car’s insurer and PDS.
There are significant consequences of using fake parts in your car, and even small pieces can pose a risk, explains Fabiola. This impact goes well beyond massive repair bills. The Federal Chamber of Auto Industries (FCAI) initiative Genuine is Best has seized and tested many counterfeit items against genuine parts.