Thanks for all your information and ideas. Up until last week I thought I knew that my kids were safe in their seats and now I've found out that they probably aren't. Not only do I feel really guilty about possibly putting them at risk unintentionally, I'm totally overwhelmed by all the choices that exist and the fact that the carseats that everyone recommends are way above what we can afford. Yes, budget is a big concern. There is no way that I can spend $300 for 1 carseat, because right now it looks like both my kids need new seats.
My ds is currently in an Evenflo that was made back in Dec 2001. It is supposed to rear face to 30lbs, but his head is getting close to the top of it and the top harness slots are only for forward facing. So besides it being expired or close to it, he's outgrowing it. I asked about it here last week and the Scenera was recommended as a good seat that was also inexpensive.
Now that I was doing more research, I think my dd might also need a new seat. Currently she is in a high back booster with a 5pt harness, but it was also made in 2001 (although she didn't start using it till 2004). The problem is that the harness is only rated to 40lbs. Even though she is 6.5 yo she is just 40lbs although she is 47 inches tall. I wrongfully was assuming that she could use the harness until she outgrew the height of the top slots, so I thought she was ok in it. But going by weight, she really isn't ok. With her being so thin, I really don't feel safe with just using the seat as a belt positioning booster seat. That pretty much means that I need to get her a Nautilus. With her being 6.5yo and it lasting 6 years, she will get full use of it. $150 is a lot of money, but it is the safest choice for her so we will do whatever we can to get her one.
I've been trying since last week to find a local source of a free or low cost seat. I was told by a friend that her friend is a fire fighter and their station gave away free seats, but when I called I was referred to another agency that said they only return messages once a week on Monday. They didn't call Monday, but yesterday she called while I was gone and said that I needed a referral to get a seat so Monday I have to make some calls since we are on wic and the kids get medicaid. It looks like the seats they have are Evenflo Titan or Tributes. Are they as good as a Scenera?
Sorry for the long post, I'm just overwhelmed by all this.