Most car seats have a date stamp on their shell showing the date of manufacture. It is essential to check this detail because it helps you confirm the expiration date, safety compliance, recalls, upgrades, and the resale value of the seat.
When shopping for new car seats, many parents pay attention to a few obvious things, such as price, features, accessories, and warranties. However, the date of manufacture is an important detail we often overlook. As with other products, the manufacturer date on car seats primarily allows you to see how old the product is.
Having spoken to hundreds of parents when reviewing car seats, I have noticed that sometimes, parents buy car seats that they don’t realize are out of production. Sometimes, people accept seats with a manufacturer date of 4 to 6 months ago. I usually will not recommend buying a new car seat with a manufacturer date of over a year ago, especially if you plan to use it for a long time.
It all comes down to checking the seat’s date of manufacturer. Even if you’ve been using the car seat already, here are the five key reasons to look at the date the seat was manufactured and what you can do with that information.
Did you know?: Where to find the car seat manufacture date varies depending on the car seat brand and model.
5 Reasons It’s Important To Check Your Car Seat Manufacture Date
The date of manufacture on car seats provides information about the seat’s age; from this date, you can assess how old the product is. Here are the key reasons why this detail should be among the top priorities of consideration when buying a car seat:
- To know the car seat’s expiry date
- To confirm recalls and upgrades
- For compatibility purposes
- To verify warranty and product information
- For resale value
1. To Know The Car Seats’ Expiry Date
Car seats typically expire within six to ten years from the manufacture date. However, not all car seat models will outrightly provide the exact expiration date. The Britax car seat is a good example. It’s not always easy to pinpoint the Britax expiration date on the product.
If the manual states that the product is safe for the next six years, counting from the date of manufacture, then checking that date is significant. It helps prevent the use of an outdated and potentially unsafe seat.
In some car seats, the manufacture date is expressed in date stamps. The date gives you an idea of the product’s lifespan, which now interprets the expiration date.
If your restraint has a 6-year lifespan and the manufacture date is the 5th of August, 2018, then you add 6 to the year 2018. In this case, the seat expires in 2024. If you’re using the seat for your last child, this won’t be a problem, but if you plan to pass it on, you’re better off with a newly manufactured option.
You probably have often heard that “car seats do not really expire, and manufacturers use this as a ploy to get more money from buyers.” Contrary to popular opinion, safety risks are associated with using expired car seats, such as wear and tear, the risk of your insurance company refusing to pay a claim, and safety law violations. I wrote a more detailed explanation of these factors in a recent article.
- Go for car seat options with longer lifespans if you plan to pass on the seat.
- The manufacture date is different from the date of purchase.
- Always check the expiration date if provided before buying a new car seat.
2. To Confirm Recalls And Upgrades
Car seat manufacturers may issue recalls or safety updates for specific car seat models. These models are identified by their serial number and manufacture date. Knowing the manufacture date allows you to verify whether your seat is affected by the recalls and take necessary action.
For example, Graco occasionally issues communications to alert parents to a potential safety issue or recall about their strollers and car seats. The most recent one was with the 2017 Graco My Ride 65 model.
Here’s a screenshot of some models affected by this recall, identified using the manufacture date:
Credit: Graco Product Recalls
So, even if you’re buying a used car seat, check the manufacturer date and go to the brand’s website to verify that the model is not affected by a recall update.
Car seat technology and installation methods can evolve. When you check the manufacture date of the car seat, you can use that information to confirm if it’s compatible with your vehicle and its safety features.
For example, some car seats may be designed to be compatible with specific vehicle models or have features that work well with particular car models.
If you have a newer car, a car seat manufactured more recently may have better compatibility and fitment options. Some newer car seats feature user-friendly installation systems such as ISOFIX (LATCH) connectors or visual indicators to help ensure proper installation.
These technologies simplify the installation process and reduce the likelihood of installation errors.
4. Warranty And Product Information
Manufacturers often provide warranties and product information based on the manufacture date.
It is easier to make warranty claims when you know the manufacture date. Meanwhile, most warranty claims are valid based on the date of purchase and not manufacture.
For example, Maxi Cosi says their car seats are warranted against defective materials one year from the original purchase date, while their strollers are warranted for two years. In such situations, you need an original receipt to validate your warranty, which has nothing to do with the date of manufacture.
However, knowing the manufacturer’s date makes accessing user manuals and guidelines through the brand’s website easy.
6. Resale Value
The date of your car seat’s manufacture affects its resale value if you ever plan to sell it. Since the manufacturer date spells out the expiry date, people will be more inclined to buy a used car seat with a longer “shelf-life.”
If you’re about to buy a new car seat manufactured two years ago, and the manual states that it’s safe to use for only six years after the date of manufacture, it means you only have four years to enjoy its optimal performance.
Assuming your child only needed the car seat for two years, and you plan to sell it afterward, would someone consider buying it when they get only two years of safe usage? Most likely not.
So, if you ever plan to sell or pass on your car seat, knowing the manufacture date allows you to provide accurate information to potential buyers or recipients. It makes them aware of the seat’s age and safety considerations.
How Can I Determine The Manufacture Date Of My Car Seat?
The manufacture date of car seats is usually written on a sticker attached to the side or bottom foot of the product’s shell. The sticker will also contain the car seat’s model name, model number, and country where it was manufactured.
Here’s an example:
Credit: MSHP Troop F on X (formally Twitter)
You can also determine the car seat manufacture date using the stamp method. This is a viable option when the sticker is not visible. The stamps are clock-like.
For example, the ones on the car seat in the image below show that the product was manufactured in March 2019. The first clock-like date represents the years, while the second represents the months (expressed in numerals 1 to 12, which means January to December):
Credit: Rachel FitzGerald on X (formally Twitter).
The bottom line is that it varies by manufacturer where and how they choose to express the date of manufacture.
The table below gives you a rundown of some popular car seat brands and how you can find this detail on their products:
|Car Seat Brand||Location of Manufacture Date||How to Identify|
|Graco||The white serial number label is on the bottom or back of the seat.||Look for a sticker with a date of manufacture|
|Britax||On a sticker located on the side or bottom/foot of your car seat shell||The date of manufacture follows the model number, which can start with either 22, CC, BC, or IC and will be followed by a three or 4-letter color code.|
|Chicco||Printed on a sticker on the base’s top and the car seat itself.||Check for a sticker that displays the date of manufacture.|
|Evenflo||On the underside of the car seat or the bottom of the base.||Look for a label that shows the date of manufacture.|
|Safety 1st||Sticker on the car seat shell or base||Find a sticker with the date of manufacture, usually in MM/DD/YYYY format.|
|Maxi-Cosi||A sticker on the back of the seat.||The date of manufacture can be located on a sticker.|
|Diono||On a white label on the back of the child restraint system.||Access the white label or read the printing on the registration card.|
How Long Can You Use A Carseat After The Manufacture Date?
You can use a car seat after the date of manufacture for as long as you want, provided it doesn’t surpass the specified expiration date. But every car seat brand is different. Some may not specify a precise expiration date. However, many manufacturers set an expiration date of six years after the date of manufacture.
So, without an expiry date, using a car seat for only six years after manufacture is safe. This is the standard recommendation, as reiterated by The American Academy of Pediatrics.
The importance of the manufacture date cannot be overemphasized, especially when shopping for a new car seat. It is okay to pick a new seat from the store that is already a few months old from the date of manufacture, but first, consider how much of the lifespan you plan to use.
More recent manufacture dates for a car seat don’t matter as much if it’s for your last child, and they are sure to outgrow before it expires (and you don’t plan to pass it on to a friend or charity).
If you’re hoping for several children to use a new car seat you’re about to buy, then you’d want the entire “lifespan.” So, while you’re focused on another aspect of a car seat, like the accessories, grand features, and price, check the manufacture date to see if it’s worth it.
Feel free to share if you know someone who will also benefit from the information in this article about car seat manufacture date.
What is the expiration date for Graco car seats?
Graco car seats expire for 7 to 10 years, counting from the manufacture date, depending on the specific model. Check the seat’s useful life and manufacture date in the manual and the sticker at the back, respectively. So add the useful life to the date of the manufacture, and you get the expiry date of the Graco seat.
How long is a Britax car seat valid before it expires?
According to Britax, infant car seats have a usable life of 6 years, while convertible car seats (excluding the Classic line) have a usable life of 7 years. You can use the ClickTight Convertible car seats safely for ten years, while the Harness-2-Booster seats have a usable life of 9 years before expiration. Note that this validity period starts from the date of manufacture and not the date of purchase.
Are there any specific guidelines for determining the expiration date of Graco car seats?
Graco seat expiration dates are on the bottom or back of every car seat. So, to determine the expiration date of your Graco seat, you have to check that section of the product. The manufacturer also recommends referencing your product manual to see when your car seat expires.