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An inspection by a mechanic can tell you if your airbags are legitimate. Seatbelts should be replaced ideally on a vehicle that is older than 20 years; if you don't see any obvious tearing, fraying or warping on your belts I would feel comfortable using them.

I would not use a built in child restraint over 10 years old. Heaven knows what it's been through. But, since your son should be rear facing ideally for another 2-3 years, it shouldn't be an issue :)

Keep in mind that the lap belt in the middle of the back seat should never be used for anything but installing a rear facing restraint. When you turn your child forward facing, keep in mind that you must first obtain a tether anchor kit from Mercury and install the anchor in one of the predrilled holes behind the back seat.

Also, keep in mind that anyone sitting back there needs vehicle head restraint support up to the tops of the ears. If you don't have head rests back there, it means keeping your child in a high back booster until you replace the vehicle (assuming you still have the vehicle at that point!)

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Originally Posted by mrstovar View Post

We have recently bought a 1998 Mercury Tracer wagon and I was wondering if there is any way of knowing if the safety equipment (airbags, seatbelts, the built in child safety seat) are still functional. The car has never been in an accident and there are no problems readily visible. The seatbelts work fine as far as we can tell. We did not try out the child safety seat; our 12 month old son rides rearfacing in an Evenflo Triumph 65 as he did in the vehicle prior to this. Is it safe to assume that if no problem is discernible no problem exists? How can we know?
 

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The same is true for adult passengers. Any car you ride in, make sure the headrest is adjusted to at least the tops of your ears! The head rest isn't for comfort; it's part of the restraint system and when used correctly reduces incidence and severity of neck injuries.

Ideally, the tops of your ears should be in the middle of the headrest (head fully contained), particularly with modern 'active head restraints'.
 
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