We all know that food has an expiry date, so does medicine. Have you wondered why a non-perishable item, such as a car seat, comes with an expiration date? While it may seem like a marketing gimmick, but there are legitimate reasons a car seat needs to have an expiry date. Not many people know when do car seats expire.

Knowing the reasons and understanding them will make sure you always get the safest car seats for your baby. The two major reasons that a car seat should have an expiry date is safety and standards.

Ensuring child safety and comfort is the primary reason that anyone would want to use a car seat. As with any mechanical parts, the plastic and webbing found in the car seats are bound to wear and tear after some time. They are also exposed to a stressful environment inside the car, which, over time, degrades the materials and compromises the safety of the seat.  

The other major reason why safety regulations insist on a car seat expiration date is that car seat technology is continuously evolving. The safety measures that your seat has now could be vastly improved upon in a matter of just a few months.  Expiry dates ensure that you always get a new seat that adheres to the latest technologies, standards, and advancements to overcome any previous design or safety flaws.

Besides expiry dates and design differences that contribute to the safety of a car or booster seat, it is also important to consider other things. Knowing when can a child use a booster seat, how old your child should be before they can leave their rear facing seat, whether your kids are mature enough to leave the booster seat or which car seat for your 3 year old is best.

There are many more reasons that safety standards insist on the importance of car seat expiration. Here we summarize of some of them.

1Why Do Car Seats Expire

Design Updates

Car seat manufacturers periodically update the design and make to improve the performance and quality of the seats. While an older car seat might look to be in pristine condition, it will not be able to measure up to the quality and safety provided by the newer model. There are different high back booster seat requirements, along with conventional baby car sets.

Standards Update

Safety regulations, too evolve to provide the best possible guidelines that make a car seat usable. Expiration dates can ensure that the product you use is always in compliance with the latest safety guidelines and standards.

Damage To The Product

The absence of explicit signs of wear and tear, does not mean there is no degradation of materials. This is especially true, if it is nearing its expiration date. The strength and quality of the safety straps, webbing and the overall quality of the seat will decline over time.

The plastic in the seat can become brittle over time. This is due its exposure to the varying temperatures inside the car. But not all of these changes and damage can be visible to the eyes. This is why an expiration date gives a good idea of the quality of the seat.

2When Do Car Seats Expire

The general recommended usage period for a car seat is 6 years. In most cases car seats come with a lifetime of up to 10 years, depending on the quality of the materials used.

The manufacturer decides the lifetime of a car seat as they know well of the materials used. The steel frames and metal parts usually have a higher shelf life compared to the plastic parts.

If the car seat has ever been in an accident, it can become useless despite having a later expiration date. So if you are purchasing a second-hand seat, make sure to get the full product history. A car seat that’s been through a car crash should not be used unless properly repaired.

3How Do Car Seats Expire

All car seats will come with a sticker or a marking that mentions the date of manufacture.

  • Some manufacturers may also explicitly mention the expiration date on the seat. You can try to find this sticker along the sides or back of the seat.
  • If an expiration date is not mentioned in the car seat, you can assume it to be six years from the date of manufacture.
  • Certain car seats start the expiration clock not from the date of manufacture but the date of purchase. But the recommended method is to use the date of manufacture.

4What To Do When Your Car Seat Expires

It is highly recommended not to use or sell expired car seats. Rather, it should be disposed of properly.

  • You can either choose to recycle the parts or dispose of the seat in a proper way.
  • Safety guidelines recommended cutting off the webbing, harness straps and removing the padding, so the seat becomes unusable. Do not ever sell or donate an expired car seat to a friend or a charity as these must be put out of circulation.
  • You can try to make use of any car seat recycling programs available to help deal with an expired seat. There are several resources like the recycleyourcarseat.com and state-run recycling programs that can help you locate the recycling centers near your home.
  • Certain retailers will exchange expired seats for other types of baby gears and help you recycle used car seats.

5The Downside To Purchasing A Second-Hand Car Seat

The biggest downside to purchasing a second-hand car seat is that it will have a reduced lifetime. You may have to find a replacement once you get near to its expiration date.

While it may not be explicitly visible, used car seats might have missing or worn out parts. Second hand car seat quality will be lower compared to the newer seat.

You also stand the risk of buying a product without complete information on its product history. Any changes, repairs, or damage to the car seat could compromise its safety. Manufacturers assure a new car seat’s integrity, which can be difficult to obtain from a second-hand purchase.

A second-hand seat may also lack the advanced features and design corrections available in a new model.

Buying from a manufacturer and registering your car seats can help you stay updated on any changes in safety standards and recalls. This can also be quite difficult to do with a second-hand purchase.