How Long Do Car Seats Last? Everything You Need To Know

Car Seats

It is not taken as seriously as it ought to be that car seat expiration dates exist. Some people might think, “how long do car seats last? It’s not like a loaf of bread that moulds over if you don’t eat it in a week or two”.

Some parents simply find it difficult to comprehend that something as expensive as a car seat would have a shelf life and an expiration date. 

Typically, car seats lose their effectiveness 6 to 10 years after they were first manufactured.

They lose their effectiveness for a variety of reasons, such as deterioration, shifting legal requirements, recalls, and the limitations of manufacturer testing. Let’s have a closer look.

Why Do Car Seats Expire?

Car seat manufacturers do not want to inconvenience you; rather, there are a few other reasons why car seats expire.

1. Wear and Tear

One of the most frequently used baby items you own, perhaps only surpassed by the crib, is your car seat. You probably buckle and unbuckle your child several times with each trip to the store, daycare, or play date.

Additionally, you’ll be adjusting the seat as your child grows, doing your best to clean up spills and messes, and cringing as your little teether chews on straps or bangs on cupholders.

If you live in a hot climate, your seat may bake in the sun while your car is parked, resulting in invisible plastic cracks.

It makes sense that a car seat, which is made to keep your child safe, won’t last forever given the toll all of this takes on the fabric and other components of the seat. Additionally, you unquestionably want to ensure that your child’s safety is maintained.

Related Reading: How To Clean Cloth Car Seats?

2. Changing Regulations and Standards

Safety and crash tests are continuously carried out and assessed by transportation agencies, professional medical organizations (such as the American Academy of Pediatrics), and car seat manufacturers. For all parents, this is a positive development.

Technology is also constantly changing. (Why is our two-year-old laptop already dated if we don’t even realize it?!) This implies that as new features, materials, or technologies are developed, car seat safety statistics may be enhanced.

Let’s say you purchase a rear-facing car seat that will protect your child up to a certain weight, but later the weight restrictions for a rear-facing seat change. It may not be the law that you have to replace your seat, but the manufacturer may discontinue it and stop making replacement parts — not to mention, you no longer have the safest seat possible for your little one.

You are less likely to have a seat that is subpar if the ticket has an expiration date that takes into account these modifications.

3. Recalls

In an ideal scenario, you would register your car seat as soon as you purchase it so that the manufacturer can inform you of any product recalls. In the real world, you’re completely engrossed in everything newborn-related, not to mention exhausted. It’s possible that you are using a (recent and unworn) hand-me-down car seat without a registration card in sight.

Therefore, expiration dates guarantee that even if you miss a recall announcement, you’ll still have a car seat that is relatively recent and more likely to be problem-free.

4. Manufacturer Testing Has Its Limits

When a car seat’s manufacturer conducts testing, they don’t assume you’ll still be piling your 17-year-old into it and taking them to their senior prom. This is true of car seat brands like Graco, Britax, Chicco, and a host of other names. Therefore, it makes sense that they wouldn’t test car seats to see how they perform after 17 years of use.

Even all-in-one car seats, which convert from rear-facing to forward-facing to boosters, have weight or age restrictions. Depending on the child’s size, car seat and booster use typically ends by age 12. Therefore, car seats are typically not tested after being in use for 10 to 12 years.

When Do Car Seats Expire?

There’s no universal answer to this, but we’ll give it our best shot: Generally, car seats expire between 6 and 10 years after the date of manufacture. This is made available online by manufacturers like Graco and Britax.

Car Seats

There won’t be an arrest warrant out for you, and using a car seat won’t suddenly become illegal at 10 years and 1 day after it was made. It is advised that you replace your car seat when it has reached the end of its useful life because we know how much you would sacrifice to keep your precious child safe.

Where is the Expiration Date on a Car Seat?

You can find the expiration date for your specific model stamped into the plastic car seat frame or located on the bottom of the seat if you want to know precisely how long car seats are safe to use for infants, babies, toddlers, or older children.

Check each item’s expiration date carefully if you bought it separately because they might be different if you bought, for example, a base separately from the car seat. You can use the information in this article to make an educated choice when getting and using a car seat for your kid.

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What to Do With Expired Car Seats?

A car seat or booster seat that has reached the end of its useful life should be permanently discarded so that no one else can use it. Car seat technicians tell parents to “destroy” the car seat. This entails chopping the harness straps and eliminating the padding before recycling or discarding the car seat.

How Long Does Baby Car Seat Last?

Very few seats last longer than the standard six years. To be sure, it’s best to inspect the seat directly. The car seat’s manual will typically also list the seat’s usable lifespan.

Is It Illegal to Use An Expired Car Seat?

NHTSA says there is no regulation prohibiting parents from using an expired car seat and most states don’t say anything about a car seat’s expiration in their laws.

Do Booster Seats Expire?

Just like a loaf of bread, most car seats have the car seat expiration date stamped on the side or on the base of the seat.

Do Car Seats Expire After 4 Years?

In general, car seats expire between 6 and 10 years from the date of manufacture. They become obsolete for a variety of reasons, such as deterioration, shifting legal requirements, recalls, and the limitations of manufacturer testing.

The Takeaway

It’s easy to be cynical and think that the existence of car seat expiration dates supports a $1 billion baby gear industry that only exists to extort more money from you. But in reality, limiting the life of your car seat is done for significant safety reasons.

In some circumstances, you might still be able to use the car seat provided there was no vehicle damage, no obvious damage to the car seat, no injuries, and no air bags deploying.

Read More: How Long Does a Car Inspection Take?

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