Car Seat Expiration – Do They Expire or is it just a Myth?

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Do car seats really expire? This question about car seat expiration has been posed by many concerned parents and rightly so. Some parents are left wondering whether it safe to pass down a used car seat to a sibling or whether they should risk their kids’ safety on a second-hand car seat. Today we’ll answer these questions in detail to put this issue to rest once and for all.

Do Car Seats Expire

One thing for sure is that parents are clearly concerned about the safety of their children while on the road. But on the other hand, it might seem like a ploy by the car seat manufacturers to exploit the need of parents to keep their young ones safe.

It’s a psychological issue because as long as parents have doubt about the safety of these car seats, they will keep buying more and the manufacturers will keep profiting.

The simple truth, however, is that car seats really do expire but their expiration dates vary. Some car seats can be used for over 10 years while others are deemed unsafe to use after a few years.

Normally, manufacturers indicate the expiration dates of these car seats so be sure to check. But just to be on the safer side, ensure you replace your car seats at around the 5 to 7-year mark as that is the average expiration date for most car seats.

Why Do Car Seats Expire

If you are looking for a single reason why car seats expire, you will be greatly disappointed. Car seats are complex pieces of equipment and as such a lot of designing, engineering, and technology goes into their production.

For this reason, a combination of many factors and variables make car seats expire. Here are a few reasons;

Wear and tear of materials: This is a huge factor why it’s advisable to ditch your car seat after about 5 years of use. Car seats take a lot of beating from kids and from their constant use. These seats are a victim of kid tantrums; they get kicked at and foodstuff poured at them.

Exposure to extreme conditions: Car seats are exposed to varying conditions such as humidity, heat, direct sunlight, and cold. These conditions cause rust and fractures within the structure of the car seats making them unsafe for use.

Change of safety standards: Safety requirements change with technology advancement. A good example is that adoption of a LATCH system in car seats back in 2002.

Replacement parts: When old car seat models are discontinued after their expiration dates, you cannot source for replacement parts

When Do Car Seats Expire?

The expiration date for most car seats is between 5 to 10-years from the date of manufacture. Therefore, if you bought a model that was manufactured three years ago, you need to subtract three years to determine its expiration date.

It is, therefore, advisable to buy a newly released model if you are planning on having many kids. Here’s a list of expiration periods for the most common car seat brands;

Graco: Their products come with a 7- or 10-year expiration date. The SnugRide Click Connect 30 and My Ride 65 havea 7-year expiration period while the 4Ever 4-in-1 car seat expires in 10-years.
Britax: Theyhave an expiration range of 6 to 10 years. However, the Harness-2-Booster model is good for 9 years while the ClickTight Convertible car seat is good for 10 years.
Chicco: These infant car seats expire within 6 to 8-years.
Safety 1st: These seats have a lifespan of 6 to 10 years. You will get 8 years from their Light N Comfy infant seat and 10years from their Go 3-in1 seat.

What To Do With Expired Car Seats

When your car seat expires, the first thing to do is to stop using and replace it with immediate effect if your kid falls within the age, height, and weight bracket of kids that need car seats.

Next, you need to decide whether to recycle it or dispose of it. If you decide to recycle it but have no need for it at home, you can send it to a local CPST who can use it for demonstration purposes.

If you decide to dispose of it make sure you destroy it completely before throwing it in the garbage bin. Cutting off the seat’s harness and scribing on its plastic case that its past its use-by date is a great way of ensuring that it won’t be re-used by anyone.

Another option of dealing with expired car seats is by trading it in with other baby products. Some local baby stores give you the trade-in option while others give you coupons that you can use to purchase your next car seat.

Car Seat Expiration Date

Unless you have a sixth spider sense or have Sherlock Holmes’s detective skills, you cannot detect whether a car seat has expired just by looking at it. And as such manufacturers indicate an expiration date on all their seats. Most manufacturers embed an expiration sticker on the back or underneath the car seat.

However, if you cannot find the sticker, there are two options. First, refer to the instruction manual and if you still cannot find it, make a call the manufacturer with your model number. Here’s where to look for the expiration date on these major brands:

Britax: the top of the seat under the fabric padding of the headrest.
Chicco: the back of the car seat.
Cosco: some models have the sticker on the bottom while others have it at the back of the seat
Evenflo: check the bottom or back of the car seat
Graco: bottom of the seat.
Maxi-Cosi: Check the bottom or back of the seat, depending on the model.
Peg Perego: the bottom of the seat.
Recaro: the side of the seat, under the fabric padding.
Safety 1st: the back of the seat.

Graco Car Seat Expiration

On average, Graco car seats have an expiration period of 7 to 10-years depending on the model. As with other car seat manufacturers, Graco limited their car seats expiration dates to meet the strict safety standards. The expiration dates account for the degradation and breakage of parts to determine the maximum number of safe years.

Every Graco car seat has an expiration sticker located at the bottom of the seat and reads “DO NOT use this car seat after ⁍onth, Year.” If doubtful, check the instruction manual or directly call the manufacturer to inquire. Here are the expiration dates of some of the most popular Graco models.

Contender™ 65 Convertible Car Seat : 7 years
My Ride™ 65 Convertible : 7 years
Size4Me™ 65 Convertible : 7 years
SlimFit™ 3-in-1 Car Seat : 10 years
SnugRide® Click Connect : 7 years
Extend2Fit® 3-in-1 Car Seat : 10 years

Final Words

Just to reiterate, car seats do expire and as such, you should consider the expiration dates of these seats before you purchase them. If you are a new parent and are planning on having more than one child, you should buy a model with a longer expiration date to use on your kids.

On the other hand, if you are having a last born or are planning on having one kid, buying an older model by 2 or 3 years can help you save some money.

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