Do Baby Car Seats Expire? Yes! Here Is Why

You have been there: You stored some leftovers in your fridge and without wanting, it was pushed to the back little by little. After a week, you clean the fridge and you find that container, wondering what is in there.  And it hits you:  Ughhhh, that smell!  Yes, that milk jug, those leftovers, they do expire.

But do baby car seats expire?  Just like the food in your refrigerator could not be eaten anymore, you will not be able to use your car seat forever!  And there are good reasons why you want to get rid of them in time to prevent your children from real dangers that expired car seats pose.

In this post, you are going to learn why car seats have an expiry date and what you can do about it.do baby car seats expire

History of Car Seats

Back in the time when we were babies (in the 1970s and 1980s), there was not such a thing as car seats.  Our parents held us on their laps and it was not uncommon for everyone to travel in the front seat.

They even tell stories about long road trips in which we were roaming around in the vehicles.  They never thought that anything was wrong with it.  In fact, our parents did not even use seat belts either.  They were completely optional and most of the time they were awkward.

We vividly remember the days when our grandparents took us to the store in their pickup trucks that they had recently acquired.  We were standing on the front seat looking out the window.  With not airbags in place, it was as dangerous as standing in the backseat of a car nowadays.

One day on one of those eventful grandpa-trips, we got stuck in a river we had to cross.  Of course, as I was standing on the seat, I rolled over and fell down.  Although I wasn’t injured, I recall that day and compare it with what we see on the roads today.  Neither did our grandparents nor our parents know much about car safety.

When you consider the traffic on the roads, you can see how it increased drastically over the years.  20 years ago not every member of the family had his own vehicle, yet that is common today.  Vehicles have become more accessible to everybody.

And with more traffic on the roads, crashes and fatalities rise.  People had to invent new products to reduce quickly rising numbers.

There are interesting facts about the history of car seats, how they started in those early years and what they have become over the years.  They evolved from seats that were to help babies look out the windows into sophisticated car seats that protect children in so many ways.

We know that car seats have reduced fatalities over the years and since the technology is becoming better every year, we can expect the numbers to fall.

Since the mid-1980s every state has car seat laws that were not rigorously enforced in the beginning but can now result in serious fines if you neglect the law.

Why Car Seats Expire?

Since car seats are required in many countries, parents cannot avoid buying one for their children.  Thankfully there are so many car seats on the market that there is one for everyone.  From the smallest to the safest to the cheapest, to on-the-go car seats, there is something for every budget and need.

When you consider buying a car seat, there are a few things to look for and one is definitely the expiry date.  It is good to bear in mind that car seats do not last forever and will not last through all your kids.  So, acquiring the most expensive 4-stage car seat for your child that has almost outgrown it, in hopes to use it for a future baby, is not a good choice.

You will not find a single reason why car seats expire, but here are a few that definitely play a role.

a) Materials Become Brittle Over Time

This is one of the main reasons why car seats wear off over time.  Anyone who has bought a set of chairs and a table for the backyard and leaves it there knows what happens after some years.

The bright sunlight takes its toll on plastic or wooden materials.  Also, the not so gentle use of children that jump on them, spill things and accidentally run into them with their motorized vehicles makes them wear off.  Try to keep them for 6 years in the sun and still be confident to use them.  You have to agree that it does not always work.

Think about car seats.  Most of them are exposed to direct sunlight during the day.  They have to stand turbulent movements from children when they make their lovely tantrums in them, have accidents in them, spill their milk, and so many others.

Do you think that plastic will stay like new like that?  We all agree that car seats might not come with the smell from the food container, but they sure are not made of materials that last forever even though they are made of sturdy materials.

And lastly, car seats tear and wear over time.  It is well-known that harsh chemicals, like bleach, weakens the harness straps.  If you consider buying a used car seat, you have no guarantee that it was not cleaned with a harsh chemical.

b) Technology, Design, and Innovations

Many would not consider this a reason as to why car seats expire, but it plays a major role.

The first car seats that were manufactured did not have the technology that we have today.  In fact, the LATCH system was a requirement for every vehicle before the year 2003, but car seats had been on the market since the 1970s.

The side-impact protection was also a later addition to car seats.  And many other features and new technologies have made their way into the world of car seats, all promising to be safer than previous models.

Every year extensive testing is done on car seats to ensure the utmost safety.  If you acquire your car seat today, do not expect it to be as safe as the ones that you will find in twenty years.

c) Replacement Parts Cannot Be Found

If car seat technology would not have the need to advance and improve, you would be able to buy replacement parts for them.  However, since more and more is required from the government regarding car seat safety, you will not find too many replacement parts at all.

In fact, what you mostly find in car seat parts are items that add more safety to the already safe car seat, as for example the anti-rebound bar.

d) Recalls

Car seat companies spend millions on testing their car seats.  If they find one particular model to not be safe enough, you better believe them.  Using a car seat that has been recalled, should not be used again.  Your child deserves a safer place to ride in.

This is one of the reasons you should never buy a used car seat because it may be under recall, and some people are trying to sell it to you for a low price.  Click here to find out which models have been recalled since February 2009.

When Does Your Car Seat Expire?

No matter what type of car seat you acquire, they will all expire.  They have different expiry dates.  Some will only last 4 years, others will last up to 12 years.

For example, infant car seats have a shorter expiry date, because they seldom come with a steel reinforced frame like convertible car seats, which can have up to 12 years.

date of manufacture

The image is taken from our Graco Click Connect 35 infant car seat. It has the date of manufacture on it and it has a 7-year expiry date.

When you buy a car seat you will most likely find the expiry date clearly stamped near the manufacturer label which is commonly near the bottom of the base or on the back of the carrier.  Look at the image for an example.

What you have to take into account when buying a car seat is that the lifespan of that car seat has already started right when it was manufactured.  So, you only want to take advantage of discounts in stores if you do not plan to use the car seat for many years to come.

What Car Seat Should I Buy?

There is the common misconception that more expensive car seats have longer expiry dates and cheap ones have shorter lifespans.

It does not matter how expensive a car seat is.  Most infant car seats range between 4-8 years, while most convertible car seats anywhere between 8-12 years, regardless of the brand and price.

Check out our complete list of infant, convertible, and booster car seats if you are looking for a car seat.

Conclusion

Car seats don’t last forever and you have to be aware when the car seat you buy or own expires because you want your child to be safe on the road.

Because materials get worn over time and the technology advances so rapidly every year, it does not matter if you want to use your car seat for longer than the expiry date because it is not safe.

And don’t worry about looks. Some car seats have been cared for so much that you will not see any damage on them, thus assuming everything is fine.  Some people are deceived and think that it is ok to use used car seats because they look in good condition.  What matters is that you know what it has been through and if it has expired.

And lastly, register your car seat as soon as you have it in your hands to make sure that you will be notified if that model should be recalled.  If you don’t do it right at the moment when you set up your car seat, believe us, you will forget and lose the registration card (in which case you can always make use of convenient online registration).  Therefore, we highly recommend that you do it immediately.

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12 thoughts on “Do Baby Car Seats Expire? Yes! Here Is Why

  1. Vapz

    I sincerely didn’t know that car seats have expiry dates and I had never bothered to check. Seeing the title of this article piqued my interest immediately because I had never imagined this to be the car. I had to run out to the car after reading this to check if my child’s car seat had expired and thankfully but true to the fact, we still have 5years to go. A good number of people are oblivious to this, so thank you so much for creating that awareness. 

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      Hi there,

      we are so glad that we were able to create awareness on this topic.  And good for you for checking your car seat’s expiry date.  Just make sure you get rid of it when time comes around.

      It is always a good idea to donate expired car seats to hospitals, fire or police departments so they can use them to teach people about the correct use of car seats.

      There are also options to recycle your car seat.  Check out your local recycling company.

      Oscar

      Reply
  2. jaykaynigltd

    Car seats do last long but not forever! So they do expire and you have to be aware when your own expires because you want your child to be safe on the road. It was their safety that made you buy it in the first place.

    A few things contribute to the expiration of car seats; worn materials  with time, fashion or design, recall and outright will to change it. Do you know an example of recalled car seat? 

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      Indeed, car seats do not last long but we need them for the safety of our children.

      You ask for some car seat models that were recalled.  Here is a link to various models that have been recalled over the years.  There are quite a few.  It is always important to register a car seat to make sure you are notified if they should be recalled.

      Oscar

      Reply
  3. Shellykh

    Wow I didn’t think car seats would expire but it makes sense. Plastic and metals gets brittle and wear over time. I’ve thought about my Dad who stored all the baby stuff (cribs, baby seat, gates) in our basement to save them for his grandkids, and I thought it was not a good idea as most of it are over 30 years old. But I didn’t think they expire as short as 4 years. Very good to know for the sake of our children’s safety. Thank you for informing us with this post!

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      Hi, 

      I think “clutter people”, if I can call them that tend to save up everything in order to save up for the future.  While that is a good idea for some things, there are items that should never be stored.  Once your children outgrow their car seats or when the car seats expire, you should get rid of them.  Storing them in the basement is not a good idea.  Takes up unnecessary space and you will not be able to use them anyway.

      I am glad you found this post helpful.

      Oscar

      Reply
  4. ajibola40

    There are two factors that I think can make baby car seats expire quickly.

    1. Innovation and Technology. I can say almost every year you will always see improvement in terms of  better, strong, reliable and secure new set of baby car seats than the previous year

    2. Recall. There is always a call for recall from companies that produce this baby can seat when they discover that there are some substance that can be harmful to baby in the baby car seat they have previously produced.

    That is one of the main reason I don’t think is idea to collect or buy second hand baby car seat 

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      Hi there,

      yes, as I mentioned, these are a few reasons why car seats expire.

      Second hand car seats are never a good idea because you do not know what they have been through.  Some have been in accidents, which makes them less safe.  

      Thanks for commenting on this post,

      Oscar 

      Reply
  5. Seun Afotanju

    Thanks for this informative review, I appreciate that you explained in details how these expired seat will not keep our adorable baby safe. I have honestly not thought about the car seat in my car for my baby as though it has no fault yet, but I have been using it for 4 years now, when will be the ideal time for a change and which reputable company will you recommend? 

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      Hi there, as long as your car seat has not been in an accident, is in good condition and you have been using it for four years, you should be fine.  Most car seats have between 4-12 years of expiration.  The car seats that have 4 years are few.

      You have to consider what you will need next before considering to buy a new one.  Will you need an infant car seat for a newborn again, or will you need a booster seat for your child?  

      Here is a list of our favorite baby car seats and also a list of our favorite convertible car seats.  

      Hope that helps,

      Oscar

      Reply
  6. M. Tidbury

    I never had children and never thought before about car seat safety for them.  This article is an eye-opener.  There is much consideration that goes on in buying and owning one.  It should put a parent’s mind at easy to do what is necessary to keep their child safe in one of them.  The whole point in having a car seat is to protect a child after all.  

    Reply

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