No Fixed Abode: I'm Going to Give This Away, and You're Going to Help Me

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

An army, they say, is always best equipped to fight its last battle. Perhaps that explains why I spent approximately three hundred and fifty dollars on February 17, 2014 to buy a Britax Pinnacle 90 car seat. Not that I was dissatisfied with the Safety1st Air seat that had shielded him from a blizzard of flying glass and very possibly prevented him from a fatal head trauma just forty-three days prior. Far from it. But I wanted to put John in the absolute best car seat money could buy from that day forward. After all, I’d spent about two thousand bucks on the LaJoie custom seat in my little Plymouth Neon — shouldn’t I go out of my way to find the car seat that would do the best job of minimizing any future impacts?

As fate would have it, my son and I were involved in just one minor crash in the three and a half years that followed, courtesy of an amiable stoner who bumped his Mazda2 into the back of my Accord at just above walking pace during this past winter. Although the Pinnacle is rated for children up to 4’11”, John already feels cramped in it at four-four, so earlier this year I swapped the big Britax out for the smaller Freeway SGL booster seat.

What to do with the Pinnacle? I could sell it on Craigslist, trade it in at one of the used-kids-stuff places. Or I could try to pass along a little bit of the good karma that has attended me and my boy ever since we bought it. Which is where you, the TTAC reader, come in.


Chances are that most of my readers have never given much thought to just how deadly a car crash can be for a small child. Not only are they improperly sized for traditional belt-and-airbag restraint systems, they are also fundamentally less impact-resistant in all sorts of really scary ways.

When I was the same age that my son is now, I read The Scarlet Ibis and it stayed with me to this very day. Children are fragile, whether they are sick or healthy. Yes, I realize many of us grew up without ever seeing a child seat. I also vividly remember the day when Brother Bark and I convinced some stupid neighborhood kid to put Black Cat firecrackers in his mouth. Let’s not overly romanticize the past simply because it didn’t kill us.

It’s obvious on the face of it that a lot of American families don’t have the ability to spend two weeks’ worth of minimum wage on a child seat. In my travels around the country I see a lot of children in seats that are old, worn, damaged, or just plain cheap. Sometimes there’s no child seat at all. I can’t fix this problem for everybody, but I can fix it for one family.

What I’d like you to do is to tell me the story of a family who could use this seat, either in the comments below or directly to askjack@calamarco.com. I’ll pick somebody a week from now and ship the seat to them at my expense. At this point somebody is sure to bring up the fact that they are still waiting for their Texas Edition badges so this is a good time to tell that story, which is as simple as this: Somehow I managed to lose the box of badges (or have it stolen out of my car) while I was preparing to ship them, and I haven’t managed to find a supplier for a whole bunch more badges. I’ll get that done at some point in the future.

In the meantime, however, this is your chance to put a deserving child in a safe car seat that, according to Britax guidelines, is still good for five more years. Help me find a kid who really needs the seat. And since some of you misanthropes out there can’t do anything that doesn’t also benefit you directly, I’ll sweeten the pot: The winning story gets a size-XL shirt commemorating our absolutely disastrous participation in the Lemons Gator-O-Rama 2013.

So what are you waiting for?

Jack Baruth
Jack Baruth

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  • Jkross22 Jkross22 on Sep 26, 2017

    When our Britax car seats got outgrown, I posted them on CL for $40. Someone got a smokin' deal, my family got dinner paid for and a needy family got a great car seat. Did the same thing with our Recaro booster seats but for less. When you see someone pull up in a beat up truck, you're reminded how lucky you are.

  • Yankinwaoz Yankinwaoz on Sep 27, 2017

    I don't have any kids. But damn! I had no idea that the kid car seats biz is so damn complicated. I think that warrants some interesting posts on TTAC. I always though that your auto insurance company just give you a kid seat, or subsidized it. I remember USAA telling me that years ago. Never had a kid so I never took them up on the offer.

  • Bd2 If they let me and the boyz roll around naked in their dealership I'll buy a Chinese car.
  • THX1136 I would not 'knowingly' purchase a Chinese built or brand. I am somewhat skeptical of actual build quality. What I've seen in other Chinese made products show them to be of low quality/poor longevity. They are quite good at 'copying' a design/product, but often they appear to take shortcuts by using less reliable materials and/or parts. And , yes, I know that is not exclusive to Chinese products. When I was younger 'made in Japan' was synonymous with poor quality (check John Entwistle's tune 'Made in Japan' out for a smile). This is not true today as much of Japan's output is considered very favorably and, in some product types, to be of superior quality. I tend to equate the same notion today for things 'made in China'.
  • Mike Beranek No, but I'm for a world where everyone, everywhere buys cars (and everything else) that are sourced and assembled regionally. Shipping big heavy things all over the planet is not a solution.
  • Jeffrey No not for me at this time
  • El scotto Hmm, my VPN and security options have 12-month subscriptions. Car dealers are not accountable to anyone except the owner. Of course, the dealer principles are running around going "state of the art security!", "We need dedicated IT people!" For the next 12 months. The hackers can wait.
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