LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death and injury for children older than age one, so safe car seats are an absolute must. But they can also be expensive.

That’s why more and more parents are venturing online to shop, hoping to find a good deal. But that’s where you need to be careful.

Experts at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland say to beware of knockoff car seats that fail to meet federal safety standards.

They say counterfeits have flooded the market in recent years which puts children at a greater risk of getting hurt or killed in a crash.

Counterfeits can be hard to spot. U.H. Rainbow officials say to check the straps. Certified, safety tested car seats have wide straps and five-point harnesses for the shoulders hips and between the legs.

They say fakes commonly have narrow straps like those you’d see on high chairs and strollers and have three-point harnesses. Also look for the labels. Counterfeit car seats typically do not have the warning and informational labels that appear on approved car seats.

On those labels they must indicate that the seat meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213, which regulates child seats.

Experts say they should also have installation and use instructions the manufacturer’s name and contact information model number and date of manufacture as well as weight and size guidelines and an “Air bag warning” on rear facing child seats.

If you do buy a counterfeit seat U.H. Rainbow officials say stop using it and buy another one.
A child car seat does not have to be expensive to be safe.

They also suggest buying from a major U.S. Retailer or established seller of child products which will increase your chances of getting a certified seat.