My family has a car seat that their children outgrew and offered to give to me. Is it safe to use an older seat?
Car seat expiration dates
An older car seat model may not have as many features as the latest design. However, that is not as big a concern as the car seat expiration date. Car seats are rated to last a certain number of years by the manufacturer.
Why do car seats expire? There are several reasons.
Materials break down over time. The seat shell protective materials wear out. A car seat is like a helmet, designed to be strong enough to protect itself from impact without being so hard that it causes injury.
Once this material breaks down, it can become too hard or too weak. This can happen due to exposure to heat inside your car or simply due to time and exposure to the air.
The seats have not been tested for use for more than several years. Harnesses stretch after use. Latches and other moving parts wear out. Materials weaken over time.
Crash testing standards have changed. An older model might not meet current safety standards.
Seat expiration is determined by the number of years after manufacture, not the date it was purchased. Car seats are stamped with an expiration date as well as a manufacture date.
Find the expiration date
Look under the car seat bottom. You should find the manufacture or expiration date stamped on the plastic or printed on a label under the seat. If an expiration date appears, use it to determine when to stop using the seat. If a date of manufacture is listed, you will need to determine how many years the seat is rated to last. You can find this in the owner’s manual or by contacting the company.
How long until my Car seat expiration dates?
In our comparison chart, you can find the duration until expiration of the current models. Car seats typically last 6 years, but some models are rated for 7, 8, and even 9 years. This depends on the seat materials.
A higher price does not necessarily mean the seat will expire later. If you plan to use your car seat for another child after the first one outgrows it, it is important to compare the expiration years between seats.
What do I do with my car seat once it expires?
Rather than throwing your expired seat in the trash, it must be recycled or destroyed. This way, you can be sure that no one will take the seat and sell it or reuse it, putting a child at risk.
Contact your local recycling facility to find out if they will accept all or part of the seat. You can also call your local Safe Kids Coalition to find out if they have additional recycling information.
If you decide to destroy and discard the seat, cut the fabric cover and write do not use on the car seat shell. This is done with a permanent marker.