Your Britax Roundabout car seat is as durable as ever, but its cover has seen better days. What do you do? Do you look for a Britax replacement or go with a cover sold by a third party? We took a look at Britax Roundabout 55 covers to determine the best options, and what we found may surprise you.
Review: Britax Roundabout 55 Covers
Car seat covers see a lot of wear and tear. Spit-up, accidents, spills—you name it, your car seat has probably seen it. With multiple washings, your cover may fray, become thin or stretch too much to fit the seat. Since Britax car seats have a life of six to ten years, you’ll probably have to replace the cover long before your car seat expires. But what are your replacement options? We decided to take a look at Britax Roundabout 55 covers to find out.
What Is a Britax Cover?
Britax manufactures both original and replacement covers specifically for its car seat models. This includes covers for the Britax Roundabout 55. The set includes the actual cover, a belly pad, two strap pads, and a body pillow.
Where You Can Find the Britax Roundabout 55
Britax’s Roundabout 55 is a convertible car seat that was discontinued in 2013. This model expires seven years from the manufacture date, so there are still some seats in circulation. However, because Britax is no longer producing this car seat, the company no longer offers replacement covers.
How the Cover Works
The cover goes over the hard plastic shell of the seat to provide comfort. It can be taken off and interchanged with relative ease due to the elastic and Velcro components.
Due to the discontinued production of this item, it’s only available second-hand. This somewhat limits shoppers’ choices regarding where to buy and the quality of the item.
When this cover was in production, there were several prints available for the fabric. Even with the limited second-hand options, we still found a good range, including green, aqua and black; as well as patterns with florals, polka dots and leopard print.
There is some mixed information regarding the fabric. Some prints, like the polka dots, are listed as 100% nylon, while other colors, like the solid black, are described as 100% polyester. We recommend checking the description of any second-hand cover you’re interested in purchasing or messaging the seller if you need to be sure.
Many buyers had difficulty washing their Britax Roundabout covers. When sent through the washing machine on a normal cycle, the cover frayed and fell apart. The consensus among customers was that the only safe way to wash this particular cover is either in the delicate cycle or by hand. Buyers who adhered to these washing instructions had no issue with the durability of the product.
Britax released several versions of the Roundabout car seat models, including the 40, the 55, the G4 and the G4.1. All Roundabout covers are compatible with any generation or model. However, since the Roundabout has been retired for all generations, the accompanying covers have been retired as well. If you can find one of the other generation covers second-hand, however, they should still work with the 55.
Prices vary for this particular product based on the condition of the item. However, prices generally fall between $35 and $45
At the time of this review, there were several Britax car seat covers up for sale on the online auction site eBay. Keep in mind that product availability may change over time.
Third-party retailers such as Amazon and Walmart no longer offer Britax Roundabout cover replacements, but there are alternative places you can look. Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace may have items available depending on your area. There are also a number of forums for parents to join online communities, and those in need of replacements can post asking if members have covers available to trade, sell or give away.
Comparing the Competition
Car seat manufacturers advise against purchasing third-party accessories like replacement covers as a matter of safety and liability. Covers designed for a specific brand’s car seat have undergone extensive testing to make sure they don’t interfere with the harness system or otherwise compromise a child’s safety. Child safety restraint manufacturing companies cannot attest to the reliability of third-party products and may include language in the car seat user manual stating this.
However, once a seat model is discontinued, it can be difficult to find accessories created and certified by the manufacturer, as they are often discontinued as well. In this case, it’s up to parents to purchase products using their best judgment. The following alternative replacements are third-party accessories which are not certified by any particular manufacturer. They’re advertised as compatible with a variety of car seats, including the Britax Roundabout 55. Some have been tested for safety by their producers, and some have not.
In some cases, using an uncertified car set cover may be considered not following manufacturer instructions, which can void the warranty or be punishable by fines depending on your state laws. Before you purchase third-party accessories, consult your car seat’s user manual to see if any specific instructions are given about what kind of covers may be used with the seat. You may also want to research child safety restraint laws in your state to see if using third-party car seat accessories is legal. With these disclaimers in mind, let’s take a look at alternative car seat covers.
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The Niko Easy Wash Children’s Car Seat Cover and Liner is touted as a universal car seat cover that will solve your messy problems. Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, this cover is specifically created to endure multiple trips through the washing machine. It sports double stitching and sturdy elastic, as well as two cup holders and additional pockets for convenience.
Buyers had nothing but praise for this product and how it made their busy days easier with its quick-clean design. It fits over the existing seat cushions, and removing the cover is described as a breeze. The fabric is high-quality, with several different patterns available. The Niko cover has also undergone crash-tests to ensure it doesn’t interfere with child safety. The fabric has not been treated with fire retardant, so you don’t have to worry about your kids coming into contact with harmful chemicals.
No warranty information was available on the website, and no return policy was readily available. At the time of this review, the company is advertising a special deal and has dropped the price to around $35.00, though it is normally $40.00. Shipping is free within the United States.
Ease of Use: 5/5
Assembly Time: 5/5
Build Quality: 5/5
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Janabebé’s Universal Car Seat Cover is marketed as a stylish accessory that fits a long list of car seats, including those made by Britax. The fabric is 98% cotton, with elastic making up the remaining 2%, and machine washable in cold water. Janabebé offers a dozen different pattern options in a one-size-fits-all cover that goes directly over the existing cushions.
Despite the inclusion of “universal” in the name, some buyers found the cover didn’t fit their car seats. There is a disclaimer on the website stating that due to the universal functionality, the cover may not perfectly fit every car seat shape. Several buyers experienced a complete failure and were unable to use the cover at all. Two customers had trouble with the Velcro straps used to secure the cover to the car seat, and one buyer found it difficult to remove due to the tight fit. There were also positive reviews from customers who had no trouble with the fit and found the fabric breathable and durable. It seems to depend on the car seat model. Unfortunately, there was no mention of the fit for a Britax Roundabout 55 in any reviews we referenced, so it’s impossible to know without trying the actual product.
There is no mention on the producer’s website whether this product has been safety tested. Please note this company is based in Spain, so the particulars of safety standards may differ from those established in other countries. There’s no warranty, but Janabebé does offer a refund so long as the item is returned unused and in perfect condition within 30 days.
Ease of Use: 3/5
Assembly Time: 4/5
Build Quality: 2.5/5
Pros and Cons
With the limited availability of a used cover and the possible safety or legal implications of a third party option, deciding which to purchase is undoubtedly a tough choice. To simplify the conundrum, here are the major pros and cons of sticking with the manufacturer.
Britax Roundabout covers are specifically made for the Roundabout 55, ensuring that the fit won’t be unmanageable. It may not be perfect due to repeated washings, or the pads may be out of shape, but you are much less likely to run into the issue of a “universal fit” being completely unusable. While not completely washer-safe, Britax Roundabout covers prove quite durable in everyday situations. Buyers had no issues with fraying or wear that affected its function so long as the product was hand washed or sent through the delicate cycle.
As mentioned previously, this cover has been crash-tested extensively. Your child’s safety will not be impeded by the presence of this cover. While using a different cover doesn’t necessarily mean your child will be in danger, Britax as a company cannot, for liability reasons, guarantee their car seat will work as intended with a third-party accessory.
As with all second-hand products, you can’t know the item’s history. Since it’s a car seat cover, it’s probably seen all sorts of child-related accidents. Of course, it’s washable, so you can make sure your child’s seat is hygienic. Since the cover is second-hand, it’s already seen some wear and tear and may not last as long as a brand-new product. Also, Britax only honors warranties if the product is purchased from an authorized retailer, so if your cover falls part, you’re out of luck on that front.
Your fabric choice is going to be influenced by what’s currently available from third-party sellers. The fabric may also be faded, stained or thin.
Taking into account the discontinued status of this product, we award it two out of five stars. The lack of availability was a big factor, as was the lack of warranty or support from the manufacturer. Though liability may be an issue when using a universal cover, the Niko is a reasonable and safe alternative to a second-hand Roundabout cover. It does offer some additional features like pockets and doesn’t require scouring the internet to purchase. Not to mention that it won’t fall apart in the washing machine.
In the end, however, it’s up to parents to ensure they’re complying with their state’s child restraint laws. Research to see if your state prohibits the use of third-party accessories with car seats. If not, you may be better off with a new cover.