Many parents are often confused about car seat expiration.
It may seem like an unnecessary addition to a car seat, but these dates serve a very important purpose.
Car seat expiration dates ensure that your child stays as safe as possible!
Older car seats often lose their manuals, important parts, and may not have up-to-date safety features. Even if all of these features are included, car seats still break down with temperature fluctuations and time.
Metal parts can even rust and not work properly when they need to. An old car seat may look fine, but on the inside, it’s deteriorated so much it’s no longer effective.
Understanding car seat expiration isn’t easy, but with the right resources, this complex topic is simple to understand! Let’s take a look at this in-depth, and understand what exactly those little printed dates are telling us!
How Long is a Car Seat Good For?
The expiration date on a car seat is the clearest indicator for how long the car seat is good. This date and the overall lifespan of a car seat changes from seat to seat.
Each manufacturer has a different estimation for how long seats can last. Usually, car seats have about 6 years from the manufacture date. However, your car seat can expire early in bad conditions.
One of the fastest ways your car seat won’t reach the expiration date is through an accident. Car seats that are in moderate to severe accidents must be replaced, but not in minor crashes.
The NHTSA considers a minor crash to be when all of these specifications are met:
- You could drive the car after the accident.
- The door next to the car seat was undamaged.
- No one was injured.
- Airbags did not deploy.
- There is no visual damage to the car seat.
If one of these specifications was not met, it’s recommended you replace your car seat. Car seats that are in accidents or crashes may endure damage that isn’t visible. The internal parts of the seat may be compromised or weakened, putting your child at risk.
When there is visible damage to the seat from a crash, you must replace the seat.
This is a telltale sign that the seat is compromised.
Even if the seat is unoccupied during a moderate to severe crash, you still need to replace the seat. Crash forces affect the seat whether it is occupied or not.
Another sign to look out for is a recalled seat. Recalled seats may not be good anymore for safety reasons. Sometimes, only specific parts are recalled and the manufacturer will send you substitutes. In these cases, you don’t have to buy a new seat.
However, in cases where the whole seat is recalled, you will have to replace your car seat. If you would like to check your car seat for recalls, you can use the NHTSA website.
Other signs that your car seat may not be good are cracks, worn out fasteners and straps, and loose parts. When your car seat experiences temperature fluctuations, heavy use, or long storage periods, it may show these signs. It’s important to check your car seat periodically for damage.
How long your car seat is good for depends largely on the expiration date, but also other factors. Monitoring your car seat, storing it properly, and avoiding accidents is key to helping your car seat reach maximum lifespan.
Your car seat is still “good” if all the following apply:
- The car seat has not been in a moderate to a severe accident.
- Your car seat has not expired.
- A car seat, or integral parts of the seat, has not been recalled.
- There are no cracks on the seat.
- No loose parts on the seat.
- There are no worn out straps or fasteners on the seat.
When Does a Car Seat Expire?
Car seats don’t expire for a very long time, usually long enough for your child to outgrow the seat. More than likely, your car seat has about 5 to 8 years after the manufacture date.
Many car seats have 6 years from the manufacture date as the limit, while others have a 10-year limit.
With different manufacturers, the time allowed varies based on parts used and build style. The good news is that manufacturers make these dates easy to find on the product and in the manual.
On your car seat, the date can appear on a label placed at the back or bottom of the seat. This label is sometimes a sticker, which displays the date of manufacture. This date can also appear printed into the plastic on the back or bottom of the seat.
The seat cover may hide dates that appear on the car seat. You may have to search and move fabric around to find it. If your manual is handy, it may be easier to reference it instead.
Manufacturers usually list expiration dates on the first few pages or back of a car seat’s manual for easy reference. The manual may also tell you where to locate the date on the car seat. If you have lost your manual, you can always go to the manufacturer’s website for expiration information.
Most car seats have both a manufacture date and an expiration date printed on them somewhere. Other car seats may just have a manufacture date.
If your car seat only has a manufacture date, the manual will have expiration information. Calling your manufacturer may also be a simpler way to find this information if the manual isn’t available.
Where to find your car seat’s expiration date:
- On a label or sticker located on the back or bottom of the seat
- Printed into the plastic on the back or bottom of the seat
- In the owner’s manual within the first few pages or on the back
- By contacting the manufacturer for assistance
- By checking the manufacturer’s website
The Typical lifespan of car seats:
- Baby Trend: 6 years from manufacture date listed on the product
- Britax: 6 to 10 years; models manufactured before June 2010 have 6 years
- Chicco: 6 to 8 years; convertible seats typically have 8 years
- Cosco: 6 to 10 years; depends on the car seat style and manufacture date
- Diono: 6 to 10 years; date varies depending on the style of the car seat
- Evenflo: 6 years; but Symphony, Transitions, and Evolve seats have 8 years
- Graco: 7 to 10 years; with different dates depending on the car seat line
- Maxi-Cosi: 6 to 8 years; varies from car seat to car seat style
- Nuna: 7 to 10 years; PIPA and PIPA Lite have 7 years, RAVA and AACE have 10
- Safety 1st: 6 to 10 years; varies from car seat to car seat style
- UppaBaby: 7 years from manufacture date on the product
Many states consider using an expired car seat as improper use and fine drivers for expired seats.
Michigan is one of these states where using an expired car seat can result in a traffic citation.
This may seem harsh, but in the United States, 43% of children’s deaths in accidents were due to improper restraint.
After the expiration date, manufacturers aren’t sure that the seat will work properly. Worn out parts and interiors put your child at risk in an accident.
No parent wants uncertain protection for his or her child, especially in the car. This is why car seat expiration should be taken very seriously. After the car seat expires, your child’s life is in danger.
Parents shouldn’t shy away from purchasing a new car seat if they are unsure about their seat’s safety. Always call your manufacturer if you have any expiration questions.
Car seat expiration can be a complex topic, especially for new parents. Finding the expiration date is sometimes difficult and signs of expiration may not be apparent. Every car seat is unique, with different lifespans and care instructions.
Reading your car seat’s manual is always a wonderful idea to learn about your seat’s expiration. If you don’t have access to your manual, the manufacturer’s website is another great resource. If you ever have questions about your car seat, always contact the manufacturer for assistance.
We hope that this article has also helped you to understand car seat expiration!
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