Ten things not to buy second hand - some bargains just aren't worth it
By John Romaine
Thursday, 14 January 2010
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Firstly, you need to be aware that recalled products still frequently end up for sale second-hand. You can check this out on www.recalls.gov.au. So, what do you need to be aware of before you buy second hand?


Electrical Tools

Don’t risk electrocution, second hand appliances must be checked by a registered electrician. A mistake here can be deadly. These days few second hand or charity shops offer second hand electrical tools for sale. If you do acquire a used tool or other electrical appliance, check that it has a valid tag or have it checked out by a registered electrical contractor or licensed electrician before you plug it in.


Car Jacks

Car jacks cause serious crush injuries and deaths every year, mostly from people using them at home to raise their vehicles for under-car maintenance (a big no no) instead of using a trolley jack and safety stands. Adding to the danger, second-hand jacks may also be dangerous because they don’t meet modern improved mandatory safety standards. Some older jacks didn’t even pass the previous standard, so don’t take the chance.


Life Jackets

Once again, standards for life jackets have evolved over time. Older jackets may not meet current standards. Also you won't know how they've been looked after. The material may be aged from lying in the side of the boat in the sun. If you buy second-hand, you could be buying unknown problems. So particularly when it comes to your kids, it’s worth spending the money on modern jackets which are safer and more comfortable to wear.


Bike Helmets

Bike helmets are made to withstand only one big crash and you often can’t tell by looking if a helmet’s already been in an accident. As bike helmets should be replaced every five years anyway, a second hand helmet is a poor deal all round. It’s better to buy a new helmet from a bike shop and they’ll make sure it fits.


Swimming Pools

Yes, above ground pools are expensive, but buying second hand isn’t always the bargain it seems. Depending on the age, they may have weakened frames and aged liners and other defects related to years in the sun and chlorine environment.


Swimming Pool Fencing

Laws on pool fencing are currently undergoing huge changes. Know the current pool fencing specs to make sure you are not buying fencing that will fail a council inspection.


Excersice Bikes

Who gets injured by a stationary exercise bike? Unfortunately the answer here is young children, mostly when they put their fingers into the wheel spokes or the chain while another person rides the bike. The current mandatory safety standard requires securely fastened frames around all moving parts. Older-style exercise bikes may not cover the moving parts adequately.


Baby car seats

Think twice about buying a baby seat second-hand unless you know the previous owner and can be certain the seat has not been in a car accident. A baby seat must never be re-used if it’s been in a car crash. Car seat design rules have changed over the years so older models may not comply with current standards. Manufacturers generally advise against using a seat that’s more than 6-10 years old. So be sure of its complete history and check there isn’t any wear, fraying or cracking.


Cots and Matresses

Standards for cots and mattresses have been significantly strengthened to ensure child safety. Standards are in place to prevent a child's head being trapped in the bars, or the child being caught and possibly strangled by decorative knobs on cot ends. Older designs may not meet these stringent standards and may be coated in dangerous lead paint. Second hand mattresses also pose a danger. Old mattresses can be full of dust mites. Dust mite droppings contain allergens that can set off asthma, eczema and allergic rhinitis attacks and they could trigger an allergic reaction.