Second-hand goods safety

Goods must always be safe for their intended purpose whether you buy them new or second-hand.

Second-hand goods might not be as safe as the new product. You might be better off spending a little more money for a new product.

You can be confident that a new product is:

  • safe
  • covered by a warranty.

Most consumer guarantees don’t apply to anything that you buy privately, like at a garage sale.

Think very carefully before buying second-hand goods.

What to ask

Don’t buy a second-hand product unless you can answer these questions.

Does it meet a mandatory safety standard?

Even second-hand goods must meet a mandatory safety standard, if one applies.

Is it missing any safety instructions or warnings?

This information will help you use the goods safely, especially for:

  • cots
  • electrical items
  • car jacks, trolley jacks and vehicle stands
  • motor vehicle recovery straps
  • child restraints for motor vehicles.

Is it obviously damaged or are parts missing?

Goods might not be safe to use if they’ve been in an accident. This especially applies to:

  • bikes
  • child restraints
  • helmets (for bikes or motorbikes).

Does it need special tools?

Special tools might be hard to get. Without them, the product might not be useable. For example, most cots need a special type of tool to join the parts together.

Has it had a safety recall in the past?

Check the Product Safety Recalls website to see if any current or previous recalls apply to the product.

What to look for

Ask yourself the following four questions whenever you’re thinking about a second-hand product.

Do electrical products have a safety tag?

Safety tags show whether the product has had a safety test.

Has a metal product started to corrode?

Metal corrosion could indicate a larger problem. This may affect the product immediately or in the near future.

Are spare parts available if you need them?

Some second-hand goods are so old that spare parts are no longer available. This is a problem for goods with moving parts. These parts can become unsafe as they wear out. Be careful about items like:

  • prams and strollers
  • portable cots
  • electrical items.

Are any of the safety features missing?

Check that a product has all of its safety features, and that they all work. These features can include:

  • safety guards
  • a cut-off switch (or ‘dead man’s switch’)
  • brakes
  • safety instructions.