How Long Do Baby Car Seats Last

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How Long Do Baby Car Seats Last

The car seats expiration dates are often overlooked by parents. While some parents have no idea what a car seat’s expiration date is related to, some of them have no idea that car seats expire. Moreover, some may believe that car seats expire is a myth. But is it so?

Or maybe car seat manufacturers are simply looking to boost sales and make more money? They aren’t. To ensure maximum car seat safety while traveling with your child, it’s important to know how long car seats are valid.

Of course, as parents, we want to protect our children as much as possible. To do this, we need to follow car seat recommendations as best we can. This includes replacing an expired car seat. Even if it still seems to be in good condition.

In the article, we’ll touch on all the nitty-gritty regarding the expiration of a baby car seat and a few more baby gear components.

Do Car Seats Expire?

The answer is yes. The life expectancy of infant car seats is limited. Even famous car seats like Chicco, Graco, and Britax expire. Exact expiration periods vary from manufacturer to manufacturer but typically range from six to seven years.

Once a car seat has been involved in an accident, then it should never be in use again.

What About Car Seat Bases?

Let’s go into other pieces of baby gear. The base, like infant car seats, has to be replaced sooner or later. Car seat Bases are also subject to regular wear and tear and damage.

Depending on the reason for replacement, the car seat and base may be changed separately. If the replacement is due to a car crash, both the seat and the base must be replaced.

In cases where you have not been in an accident, the seat and base can be replaced separately. This is possible when the seat has reached the expiration date and the base is still valid.

Expiration of Booster Seats

Now that we’ve clarified that car seats and bases have an expiration date, it’s time to say a few words about booster seats. They are also a part of baby gear. Do they have an expiration date, too?

The response is to say yes, booster seats have an expiration date, just like car seat and bases do.

They are prone to wear and tear and get damaged, to boot, too. The average service life is 6 years, but we recommend checking the expiration date for each individual model.

If the booster seat has been in an accident, it must also not be used again.

When buying used booster seats, also pay special attention to the service life and make sure the seat has not been in an accident.

The Reasons for Cars Seat Expiration

In order to save money, using an older child’s seat or buying a used car seat seems like a good idea. Especially when the car seat seems to be in decent condition. But when it comes to the expired car seats, this option doesn’t seem as much appealing. Anyway, there are many things we can’t see with the naked eye.

The fact is that there are very valid reasons for car seats to have an expiration date. It’s not about sales and trying to sell more car seats. There’s a lot more behind it. Let’s figure out what they are.

Reason #1: Car Seat Materials

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Vehicle seats don’t get out of the car very often, most of the time they are left in the car throughout the day. In countries where summers are characterized by extreme heat and winters are cold, the ambient temperature can affect the car seat. Because of exposure to extreme temperatures, over time, the plastic can begin to break down, making it brittle.

The sun’s rays also adversely affect the synthetic fabrics used to make car seats.

Reason #2: Accessories Wearing Off

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Car seats are used more frequently if compared to other baby gear elements. It’s not a secret if said that drinks are poured on the car seat, bits of food fall on it, and cleaning product residue accumulates on the car seat materials. All of this does not go away completely but accumulates on the harness straps, adjusters, buckles, latch system, seat belt, and other accessories.

As a result, parts of the car seat malfunction, making it impossible to ensure complete safety.

Reason #3: Adopting New Technology and Changing Safe Regulations

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Car seat regulations and legislation are changing in line with advances in technology and safety standards. Car seat manufacturers always take this into account when producing a new line. Also, they conduct crash tests based on newly-introduced requirements or technologies. So when you buy a newer car seat, you can be sure that it complies with the latest regulations and laws. As for older car seats, they may lag behind and not meet the new safety standards or the latest developments in child safety.

Reason #4: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Recalls Car Seats

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The manufacturer’s instructions for repairing your car seat and making it ready for use and safe for your child must be strictly followed if falls under recall. This is relevant for the cases when your car seat has not yet expired, too. A repair kit will be provided free of charge by the car seat manufacturers in most cases. In rare cases, the car seat may not be repairable. When this happens, the recall directs you to stop using the baby seat and dispose of it.

You can always find out information about the recall of the child car seat you are using by simply contacting the manufacturer. There should be a sticker on the seats with the company’s customer service contacts. A quick Google search will prompt you to find the contact information if the sticker went missing. Also, you can find information about recalls on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.

Reason #5: Car Accident Involvement

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If car seats have been implicated in a car accident, the damage incurred as a result of the accident may render the seat inability to function properly and be unsafe for your baby to continue using in the future. The damage can be invisible to the human’s naked eye as well.

When purchasing used car seats, make sure that you know the complete history of the product. Pay particular attention to information about the car seat’s involvement in accidents. In some cases, car seats that have been in an accident may be safe for future use if they have been properly repaired, but it is difficult for someone who does not practice car seat repair to verify this. As mentioned above, most car seats have to be replaced.

Reason #6: Small Pieces Are Lost

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We’ve already mentioned that car seats undergo considerable wear and tear over the years: pads are frequently laundered, and a seat belt is switched from rear-facing to forward-facing positions and possibly the other way around. All of these routines cause small parts and pieces of the seat to commonly go missing.

The loss of small parts can reduce the effectiveness of the seat. Ensuring complete safety in such cases is not achievable. It is necessary to replace the missing parts with the original replacement parts. If replacement is not possible, it is recommended to replace the expired seat.

The Service Life of Car seat

So, how long are car seats can be in use? The service life seats are determined according to the manufacturer and which group a child falls under. We are providing the car seat expiration terms based on two matters.

How Long Are Various Group Car Seats Good For?

The world currently distinguishes six groups to which all car seats belong:

Group 0+ – For newborns from the first days of life to 15 months

Group 0+/1 – For infants up to 18 kg (around 4 years of age)

Group 1 – For infants weighing from 9 kg (9 months) to 18 kg (around 4 years)

Group 1/2/3 – From when your baby weighs 9 kg (9 months) until reaching a weight of 36 kg or height of 135 cm (around 11-12 years)

Group 2/3 – Starting from 18 kg (around 7 years of age) up to a maximum weight of 36 kg or a height of 135 cm (around 11-12 years of age)

Group 0+/1/2/3 – From birth until a child weighs 36 kg or is 135 cm tall (about 11-12 years old).

Although certain car seats expire over a longer term, this does not mean that a Group 0+ car seat is safer than a Group 0+/1 car seat, since it has a shorter service life. On the contrary, many car seat brands set the recommended service life for each model of car seat individually.

If you utilize a car seat that complies with the legal safety requirements, it can be used as a safety car seat for the entire car seat lifetime until your child grows to the maximum weight of their group. After that, you have to switch them to the next car seat level.

How Long Are Car Seats Good For?

We have compiled useful information about how long car seats of various well-known brands last:

Britax: Infant car seats expire after six years, and boosters expire after nine years

Chicco: car seats have a service life of six years

Cosco: car seats have an expiration date of six years

Diono: car seat expiration date is eight years for car seats and 10 years for car boosters

Evenflo: car seats have a six-year use period. Some models may have a different expiration date

Evenflo Symphony: can be used for eight years

Evenflo SafeMax: the car seat producer specifies ten-year durability of a lifespan

Graco: Car seats generally have a lifespan of seven or 10 years, depending on a particular model

Maxi-Cosi: Car seats are designed to be used for 10 years, but do not expire

Recaro: car seats can be used safely for six years

Safety 1st: Depending on the model, the life expectancy ranges from six to eight years

Is It Legally Binding for Manufacturers to Indicate a Car Seat Expiration Date?

Manufacturers are not required by any car seat laws to specify an expiration date for car seats. Car seat manufacturers determine expiration dates based on the expected product lifespan. Most car seats expire after 6-7 years of use from the manufacture date.

It should be stressed particularly that the service life is measured from the manufacture date rather than the purchase date, since the fact that the car seat has been kept on the store shelf for a few months or longer does not mean that the above-mentioned causes of wear and tear are irrelevant.

How Can You Verify Your Car Seat Expiration Date?

The expiration date is printed on a sticker attached to the seat. Most manufacturers print the expiration date from the date of manufacture, while some also print the exact expiration date.

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Britax: The white expiration date sticker is usually found on the upper part of the seat, under the fabric padding, and next to the child’s head.

Chicco: Manufacturers put white stickers saying when car seats expire on the back of the car seat.

Cosco: Resting on a particular car seat model, the expiration date is most likely printed on the plastic bottom of the car seat or written on the white sticker on the back of the seat.

Evenflo: The date when car seats expire is printed on white stickers attached to the bottom or back of the car seat, varying from model to model.

Graco: It is likely that you find the expiration date stamped in the plastic on the car seat bottom.

Maxi-Cosi: Where to look for expiration dates varies from model to model, they are usually printed on the plastic on the bottom of the seat or a white sticker on the back of the seat.

Peg Perego: A white sticker can be found attached to the underside of the seat.

Recaro: The expiration date is specified on a white label, that is most likely to be present on the side of the seat, under or next to the fabric padding.

Safety 1st: Be on the lookout for the car seat expiration date engraved in the plastic on the seat back.

If you don’t find a sticker with the specified lifespan in any of the places, check the instruction manual or contact the car seat company with specifying the necessary information and a company employee should help you out.

Note: Never use a car seat without first making sure it is still safe for your child.

Before you buy a pre-owned car seat, be sure to check out this expiration date sticker. It is needless to mention that for the sake of safe kids, you must never purchase a car seat that has visible damage, is past its expiration date, or expires before your child grows out of the car seat.

Is It Possible to Use an Expired Car Seat?

Our wallet is not always satisfied with the requirements of car seat manufacturers. In such cases, the question arises, “What is safer: to use an expired car seat or not to use a car seat at all?” The idea of use an expired car seat may well be, but it won’t be able to properly ensure protection and safety for your child.

May You Face Legal Consequences if You Use an Expired Car Seat?

There is no law prohibiting the use of an expired seat. However, in some states, the law requires parents to use baby seats according to the manufacturer’s manual.

If the manufacturer has a specified expiration date, and you’re using it well after that expiration date, the car seat is not being used as directed by the manufacturer. Technically, this is illegal. Yet, presumably, the police officers aren’t going to take the car seat off to check the date of manufacture unless it looks like a very clearly old car seat.

What to Do if a Car Seat Is Expired?

Once you have reached the expiration date, you must stop using the car seat straight away.

To avoid reuse, which is completely unsafe, it is recommended that you cut the straps.

Disposing of expired car seats also has its own rules. You can find out about them online or by contacting the car seat company. Many manufacturers offer one of these options:

  • Expired car seat exchange programs.
  • Program for proper car seat recycling without harming the environment or the individual. Don’t forget to get the coordinates of the nearest recycling center.
  • Exchange program that allows you to exchange your old car seat for a discount on the purchase of a new car seat.

If you want to know what to do with an old car seat.You can read here.

Will an Insurer Replace My Car Seat if There Is an Accident?

Speaking about most insurers, they will replace your car seat if it has been involved in a car accident. At the same time, the old one is sent to a recycling center. In any case, review your insurance policy and reach out to your insurer if you are confused about the particular situation you are in.

Either way, you must not use the car seat once it has been involved in an accident.

On the Final Note

Car seats top the list of essential baby products. They’re rather more important than other pieces of baby gear. No matter whether you are going to travel with your baby in a car or on a plane, a car seat is essential from the first trip home from the hospital.

But buying a new car seat can get rather expensive. That’s why people are more tempted to steer clear of buying a new car seat and buy a secondhand one. The first thing to remember is the fact that a car seat expires for a reason. Car seats carry an extremely precious cargo, your child, and an expired car seat will not function properly and hence, provide the out-and-out safety for your little one.

The same is applicable for car seat bases and booster seats.

How do you know how long are car seats good to be used? Determine if you are past your car seat expiration date by looking for a white sticker or engraving on your baby seat. Based on car seat manufacturer information, usually, a car seat expires after six years.

Alice Brooks

Hi!!!My name is Alice Brooks. Here I share my observations and conclusions from my experience and the experience of my friends. First of all, I pay attention to safety and only then to trends. I want to help other parents to choose the right product.

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