What do car seat expiration dates mean?

My car seat has expired !?  Is that a real thing?  It’s not a gallon of milk!! How do they expire and does it really make a difference?  

You’re probably wondering why you need to buy ANOTHER car seat if the one you bought 9 years ago was barely ever used and of course it was never in any sort of accident. Well, here’s the honest to goodness answer:  SAFETY FIRST!

FIRST THINGS FIRST: Giving car seats an expiration date isn’t about money. Really, it’s not! It’s about making sure your child’s car seat is as SAFE as possible! Between owning a baby store, and my chiropractic practice, I have turned into a car seat safety freak (ask my friends!).

FACT: Car seats DO have an expiration date, just as most foods, medicine and other necessary items. This is beneficial to all parents because it supports the newest findings. Every year, car seat manufacturers are required to test their products, modify any flaws and improve the safety/quality of each item. This data then helps provide guidelines for use to us, parents. Of course one of the easiest ways to tell if your car seat is still in its prime is to check the date of manufacture hidden somewhere on the car seat. Keep reading below to find out more information on how to find expiration dates on the most popular car seat brands. 


MAIN REASONS THAT CAR SEATS EXPIRE:

  • Technology advances: Crash data and test results are constantly being used to make changes to car seats so they can do a better job of protecting children in the event of a collision.  
  • Materials: The materials that make up your seat break down over time and the impact protection can deteriorate.
  • Wear and Tear: Extreme temperatures cause wear and tear to important fabrics and materials, reducing their quality and effectiveness.
  • Replacement parts: As new seats are developed, replacement parts and accessories are no longer available.

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOUR CAR SEAT EXPIRES?

TWO SIMPLE WORDS: TOSS IT!  

Parents, don’t be surprised if you shed a tear when that first seat you purchased reaches expiration: it’s a little sad to see them go! It is always so much fun remembering how small your little was when they took their first ride in that car seat.

If you are EVER in doubt about the safety or shape of your seat, bring it to the fire-station or any certified safety technician for a safety check-up. They can help locate the expiration date for you. I myself, am a Child Passenger Safety Tech and I love when parents show me their seats and ask for more information about how they work, if they’re installed correctly and if they’re expired. 


GENERAL RULE OF THUMB: IF NO EXPIRATION DATE IS GIVEN ON THE SEAT, THAT CAR SEAT WILL EXPIRE SIX YEARS FROM THE DATE OF MANUFACTURE. 

And lastly, while borrowing or buying a second-hand car seat is not recommended, if you do get a hand-me-down, make sure you can absolutely-without-a-doubt, answer these four critical questions:

  • Has this car seat ever been in a crash?
  • Are all the parts and pieces still attached to the car seat?
  • Are all the labels for proper use still affixed to the car seat?
  • Has this car seat ever been recalled? Not sure? CLICK HERE to see if your seat is recalled. 

WHERE TO BUY A NEW CAR SEAT WITH THE LONGEST LIFE LEFT BEFORE EXPIRATION:

Make sure you use an AUTHORIZED car seat retailer, and not just look for a good deal online. There are imitation car seats out there (scary, we know), just like anything else, and it is NOT what you want for your child.  Many vendors now sell directly to Amazon, which is very convenient if you don’t live near a retailer, or prefer to shop from home.


WANT MORE?

Keep reading to find out WHERE to look on your car seat to find your expiration date!

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2 thoughts on “What Do Car Seat Expiration Dates Mean – What To Do When It Expires?

    • Rachel Rising says:

      Hi Stephanie! Once your seat expires, you should cut the shoulder straps and discard it in the trash. You might also want to keep a look out for car seat “trade-in” events. Often times, Target will host these events and offer a discount off a new seat in exchange for the old seat, and they’ll discard it for you! It’s a great way to save on a new seat 🙂

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