I have more information on the Fisher Price car seat shown our article on Advantage Rent-a-Car's Frightening Car Seats.
After receiving reader tip saying that her 15 year old son had used a similar car seat, I did some more research on that model. The Fisher Price 9100 & 9101 T-Shield convertible seats were manufactured between 1985 and 1995 (meaning that the car seat pictured is between 12 years and 22 years old!) Wow! No wonder it looks so worn out.
Most manufacturers suggest replacing a seat 5 to 8 years after the date of manufacture, because current safety seats may have better safety features than older seats, but in no case should a car seat be used after 10 years.
Furthermore, this car seat model has been subject to a eight different recalls (though the one pictured might have missed all of them) Do you think anyone at advantage has taken the time to check the car seat for recalls when they didn't take the time to clean it after use?
Now that I've learned more, I'd like to update our recommendations to parents:
- Call ahead to the specific office you will be renting a car seat from and verify that they have new, well maintained car seats available for your date of travel.
- Make sure that the seat is installed snugly and that the latch or seatbelt is threaded through the proper channels
- Find the individual "birth date" of the seat. It should be on a computer printed label stuck to the side or back of the seat. Don't use a seat that is older than 5 years.
- Check the seat carefully for evidence of cracking, twisting, worn harness webbing or broken buckles. Once you have latched the buckles, pull hard to make sure that they do not detach. If there is any visible damage, do not use the seat
If you are on site at the airport, it is easy to walk to another agency and ask them whether they'll honor the rate for your reservation (if they have extra cars, they are likely to). If you're off site, it's harder to walk away, but never take the risk of putting your child in a car without a properly functioning car seat.
Car Seat.org's listing of T-Shield car seats
Listing of Eight Recalls for the Fisher Price 9100 Car Seat
Advantage Rent-A-Car: Link
California Car Seat Law: Link
Advantage Rent-a-Car's Frightening Car Seats.