What Not to Buy at a Garage Sale

Written By:

How to Garage Sale

How to Garage Sale

Yard sales can be great. Cruising the community, taking note of all the many lawn sales sporting massive amounts of bargained merchandise is mighty enticing. And in these trying economic times, shopping for bargains and buying used is one of the easiest ways to save money without completely cutting off your spending valve. What’s more is the quality may be equal if not better than what you’d buy at the store! You might even get a cute little backstory of your purchase thrown in, free of charge.

Yet, certain things should never be bought used. Bad deals happen, but bad deals that threaten you or your child’s life shouldn’t. Avoid buying these items at your neighborhood garage sale:

Baby Cribs

Only two months ago, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued new regulations for baby cribs. Under the new regulations, drop-side cribs – a standard of the nursery because it made parentel access to the infant easier – are now illegal. According to the CPSC, from 2007 to 2010, unsafe cribs resulted in 150 deaths due to strangulation or suffocation. In spite of new regulations, old, unsafe cribs may still be sold at garage sales and on eBay.

The CPSC offers further recommendations on safe sleeping for infants.

[Check Your Credit: Don’t Guess. Know.® Get your free credit report and score. No credit card required.

Buying a used crib at a garage sale also assumes that all of the parts for the crib are accounted for. Asking a seller to hunt down the manual to verify all of the parts is a tall task. You’re better off buying new and knowing the crib was regulation-approved with all the necessary parts.

Bike Helmets

While wearing someone else’s helmet is better than wearing no helmet when hitting the trails, used helmets are just that – used. They don’t provide the amount of protection that even an inexpensive helmet would if it was purchased new. Most people are not aware that a bike helmet needs to be replaced after a crash where your head was hit. The foam inside is less protective after a crash, even if it appears relatively unscathed compared to your knees. The problem at a garage sale is that you don’t know the items history. Either way, it’s probably best not take the time to ask the owner if the helmet was in a crash. You risk placing your confidence in a stranger and a possibly faulty memory.

Car Seats

Similar to helmets, when a car seat has been in an accident, the value of the protection it previously offered is substantially reduced. This can again be true without any visual damage. Car seat manufacturers actually require you to replace a car seat after it has been in an accident. Whether the child was in the seat at the time makes no difference.

[Check Your Credit: Don't Guess. Know.® Get your free credit report and score. No credit card required.

Car seat manufacturers often add expiration dates to car seats. That’s because the plastic that many car seat shells are made of breaks down over time. You can look around for the sticker, but knowing that most car seats’ expiration dates are five to six years makes buying a new one the wiser deal. You get more time with the seat and a certainty that it’s safe.

Additionally, car manufacturers are continually improving their seats, including making them heavier and rear-facing. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children ride in rear-facing car seats until age two.


This one is a little more intuitive and a little less dangerous. Although, depending on the mattress and/or bedding’s history, nightmares may occur. If you’re easily grossed out, chances are you’re not going to be one to purchase a used mattress or bedding at a garage sale anyway. Buying a used mattress is a one-way ticket to sleeping in the company of other people’s bodily fluids, bacteria and mold.

And if that doesn’t disgust you enough, does the recent bedbug epidemic scare you straight to the store? Luggage, clothing, beds and furniture can transport bedbugs, so purchasing these items second-hand is an easy way for the bugs to spread into your home. What’s more, the financial cost of eradicating the little pests will be greater than if you just bought the mattress new to begin with.

Financial struggles do make it difficult to buy everything new. Acquiring the above items from someone you know and trust would be the exception to not buying used. Otherwise, these items are better bought new.

[Check Your Credit: Don’t Guess. Know.® Get your free credit report and score. No credit card required.

For more tips and tools to help you make the most of your hard-earned dollars, visit Quizzle.com. At Quizzle, you’ll learn how to improve your credit to qualify for the best deals on life’s largest purchases and how to lower your monthly mortgage payment to free up cash for other goals.

Related articles: