The Lowdown On Car Seat Expiration Dates

Car seat in car

It’s not everyday you find great deals on baby gear, so when you come across a bargain, it can be super tempting to jump on it. An amazing car seat at a rock-bottom price? Yes, please! But buyers beware: Pay attention to the car seat expiration date. Unlike the “Best If Used By” date on your box of Cheerios, here’s why an expired car seat is a safety issue you don’t want to overlook.

In this article:
Why do car seats expire?
How long are car seats good for?
How to tell if a car seat is expired
How to dispose of an expired car seat

Why Do Car Seats Expire?

Do car seats expire? Yes. As to why do car seats expire—now that’s a slightly more complex answer. It might seem like just a ploy by baby gear manufacturers to sell more car seats, but it actually makes sense when you think about it. Car seats are mostly made up of hard plastic, which can deteriorate over time. (Remember those plastic slides and water tables from your youth that looked seriously sketchy by the time your parents finally tossed them?) According to Libby Nye, a certified child passenger safety technician with Saving Loudoun’s Littles, a nonprofit group dedicated to car seat safety, here are several factors that contribute to car seat expiration.

Deterioration of materials. Heat, cold, sun, humidity and age can affect plastics and make them brittle and, eventually, unsafe.

Rust. It can form on metal parts in unseen areas and affect how the seat performs in a crash.

Discontinued models. When production of a seat is discontinued, replacement parts are no longer manufactured and can be difficult to find.

Advancements in technology. Thanks to a focus on research and development, technological breakthroughs happen at a rapid clip these days, and manufacturers want to make sure their products meet updated safety standards and best practice recommendations.

Missing pieces. Over the years, car seats go through considerable wear and tear: The pads get washed over and over, and belts are switched from rear-facing to front-facing and possibly back again. It’s no wonder small parts and pieces often get lost, which can reduce the seat’s effectiveness.

How Long Are Car Seats Good For?

Most car seats last between six and 10 years, but car seat expiration dates vary by manufacturer. The expiration date is often printed on the seat itself; if not, check the instruction manual for each car seat you own or give the manufacturer a call. Here’s a helpful guide to car seat expiration dates for several different car seat brands:

  • Britax: six years for infant car seats, nine years for booster seats
  • Chicco: six years
  • Cosco: six years
  • Diono: eight years for car seat harnesses, 10 years for booster seats
  • Evenflo: six years (except when otherwise noted)
  • Evenflo Symphony: eight years
  • Evenflo SafeMax: 10 years
  • Graco: usually seven or 10 years, depending on the model
  • Maxi-Cosi: Car seats are designed for 10-year use but don’t expire
  • Recaro: six years
  • Safety…

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