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When Do Car Seats Expire?

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Yes, your kids’ car seat has an expiry date.

And though it may not spoil like our food and drinks, it’s an important date we should look out for.

This is why, today, we’re going to answer the question “when do car seats expire?”

Besides that, we’ll also look at why it expires, what to do when it expires, and more. 

So without further ado, let’s dive in. 

How Do You Know When Your Car Seat Expires?

Usually, car seats stay in good condition for 6 to 10 years. However, the exact expiration date will depend on the manufacturer. 

So the best way to know when the car seat expires is to check for the date. 

You can find the expiry date on a sticker attached to the seat’s plastic shell or at the base.

If you don’t see an expiry date sticker, look for a manufacturing date sticker instead.

Can’t find both? Try to get a hold of the brand’s customer support and inquire about the expiry date and where to find it.

Some brands made it easier for parents to know their products’ expiry dates. This is where you’ll find them:

  • Graco – Found at the back or the bottom of the seat
  • Chicco – Found on the seat and at the bottom
  • Baby Trend – Shows the manufacturing date instead and has a standard 6 years post-manufacturing as its expiration
  • Evenflo – Shows the manufacturing date and has a standard 6 years post-manufacturing as its expiration, except for their Symphony line. This expires after 8 years

Are brands required to show the expiry dates?

Unfortunately, no. No law has been passed requiring brands and manufacturers to include the expiry date in their car seat products.

Thankfully, however, many brands care for their customers and make sure they know when the car seat is no longer in top condition. 

What Do You Do With Expired Car Seats?

So say your car seat is already expired. 

What then?

Don’t donate it to another family. Expired car seats shouldn’t be given second lives.

Don’t also throw it straight into the dumpster. 

Instead, here’s what you can do with your old car seat:

  • Cut the straps and destroy the seat. This way, it becomes unusable.
  • Write “Expired Car Seat” on top to alert collectors and prevent others from reusing it.
  • Properly mark it as expired and donate it to upcycling stores and organizations.
  • If you have another baby on the way, check the brand’s customer policies and see if they allow trade-ins or exchanges for expired car seats. 

Why Do Car Seats Expire?

To some, they laugh at the thought of car seats expiring. 

But there are several reasons why these seats expire. And these reasons are all practical and reasonable.

Wear and Tear

A car seat is one of the most used gears for your children. Imagine the number of times you strapped and unbuckled your baby on their seat. I know, it’s too many to count. 

This alone contributes much to the wear of the seat.

You also need to consider the climate of where the seats are stored and used. If you keep your car exposed to the scorching sun for hours and days, expect the seat to get tiny cracks and wrinkles.

And when it is worn and torn, it won’t secure your child as it should. This could put your child in great danger if something happens. 

Changing Seat Technologies and Standards

Even car seats evolve, whether it’s a new form, better materials, or additional features.

By the time the car seat reaches 6 years, it might not be at par with the seats newly manufactured. And this can pose a safety risk for your kids.

Manufacturing testing limits

When manufacturers created these seats for children, they didn’t expect kids to stay the same weight and height for more than 10 years. So they’ll no longer test these decade-old products and see if it is still usable or not.

Old car seats no longer have replacement parts

Some parts can get broken, and you need to replace them. 

More often than not, car seats older than 10 years old will no longer have replacements available on the market. 

Then how about finding alternatives or generic parts?

Though that route is more cost-efficient, it won’t guarantee that your seat will have the same quality as your old one.

It might be wiser to buy a new one altogether.

I Have Another Baby on the Way, and I Can’t Afford a New Car Seat. What Should I Do?

I hear you. Car seats are not cheap.

And as parents, we know that there are other expenses we have to prepare for before the baby’s arrival.

So here are some ideas to help you get a car seat that’s safe for your baby without breaking the bank:

  • List it on your baby registry. If you’re holding an intimate party with friends and future aunts and uncles, there’s no harm in trying to ask for this as a gift! I’m sure they will understand.
  • Look for second-hand car seats in your local stores or online. Again, car seats can last up to 6 to 10 years. Not all parents store their baby’s seats for that long. Try to look for a quality car seat in these places and get them for a lower price.
  • Try Costco’s or Safety Flo’s car seats. These stores are known to provide quality seats at lower price points, around $100. Just thoroughly check the product before purchasing it.
  • Search for brands that accept trade-ins. If you have an older seat with you, check which brands have a trade-in policy so you can get a new one at a lower price.

Conclusion

Believe it or not, car seats have expiry dates. And it’s not just a marketing conspiracy to get parents to spend more.

Due to wear and tear, climate, new advancements, and manufacturing limitations, car seats don’t last forever.

That said, you’re given a good 6 to 10 years to make use of the car seat. For the specific expiration date, check for a sticker on the seat itself. 

As parents, we want our children to be safe and protected. You don’t want to use an expired car seat. 

So make sure you check when your car seat expires and avoid using it once it does expire.

You can also check out tips on how to clean car seats with household supplies.