While shopping for my first born baby, I wanted a car seat that would be passed down to her siblings. My plan was to space my babies with at least four years gap each.
I was settling on nothing less than the best car seat in the market.
But shock on me, when one of the retailers informed me of the car seat expiration. The car seat that took my attention would not even serve my first munchkin fully before she outgrows. That means I would have to invest in another car seat later on.
I was a disappointed lot. Well, the truth is, car seats do expire and its all for the right reasons.
Now the question is how long are car seats good for and why do they expire?
When do car seats expire (how long are car seats good for)
There is no definite car seat expiration date. However, for most car seat brands, expiration date ranges between six (6) to ten (10) years from the date of manufacture.
Top car seat brands such as Graco and Britax explicitly show the date of manufacture or expiration date on its label mostly found in the car seat shell.
Here’s a look at some of the expiration dates for the top car seat brands in the market:
1. Graco 35 XT Infant seat- 7 years.
3. Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 car seat- 10 years.
4. Graco SlimFit 3-in-1 car seat- 10 years.
1. Britax B-safe 35 (infant) - 6 years.
2. Britax Advocate ClickTight ARB - 10 years.
3. Britax Boulevard ClickTight (convertible) - 10 years.
4. Britax Frontier ClickTight (Booster) - 9 years.
1. Chicco KeyFit 30 - 6 years.
2. Chicco NextFit iX Zip - 8 years.
3. Chicco MyFit Harness plus Booster - 8 years.
1. Evenflo SafeMax (Infant) - 6 years.
3. Evenflo SafeMax 3-in-1. - 8 years.
4. Evenflo ADVANCED Chase LX Harnessed Booster Car Seat- 6 years.
1. Safety 1st OnBoard infant car seat
- manufactured before 1st January 2014- 6 years.
- manufactured after 1st January 2014- 8 years.
2. Safety Grow and Go 3-in-1 car seat- 10 years.
3. Safety Go Booster
- manufactured before 1st January 2014- 6 years.
- manufactured after 1st January 2014- 10 years.
Why do car seats expire?
1. Material deterioration
Most car seats are made of plastic and steel material. Due to stressing conditions exposed to car seats in the car, that is, hot and cold conditions, these materials undergo wear and tear over time affecting its efficiency.
For instance, plastics are susceptible to brittle and subsequent hairline fractures while the metal part is prone to rust. Some of these damages could occur in unseen parts and compromise the car seat’s integrity.
2. Change of safety standards
Due to ever-changing technology, lifesaving techniques are bound to change year after year. Thus, even though a car seat may look in a perfect condition even after it expires, it may not meet the current safety standards.
Therefore, expiration dates ensure that the car seats used are up to modern standards, consequently more efficient.
3. Missing pieces
Car seats in particular convertible ones are prone to missing parts most especially because they are changed from one mode to another. Although one may not detect the missing part by the looks, it affects its performance in case of an unfortunate crash.
Remember, once a car seat is out of production it becomes difficult to find its replacement parts. Thus it is always wise to invest in a new car seat once it expires.
What to do with old car seats
Your baby’s car seat has outlived its lifespan and you wondering what to do with it? The first idea that might pop in your mind is putting it in the trash, however, experts warn against this practice.
Think of a parent/guardian who might come across it, unknowingly takes it up (probably because it is as good as new by the look) and makes use of it. You wouldn’t want to imagine the danger it poses to an innocent baby.
But then, what is the safest way of disposing of old car seats? Simply remove the padding, fabric, and foam; cut off the belts and buckles. Thereafter, remove any metal parts as you keep the plastic parts for recycling purposes. You can then safely dispose of the non-recyclable parts.
Remember there are communities with recycling centers that take up old car seats. In such a scenario, take off the webbing and cover of the car seat. Plug off the serial number and the date of manufacture of the car seat in question.
Thereafter, write “expired do not use” on the seat’s shell and place it in a designated pick-up point.
How to know if a car seat has expired
A mere stare at the car seat may not give you an insight on whether it has outlived its usefulness or not? The only sure way is by checking its expiration date or the date of manufacture mostly printed and stamped on the manufacturer’s label.
You can find this label either at the sides or at the base of the car seat. Alternatively, you can find it in the instructional manual.
Remember, we calculate the date of expiration from the manufacturing date and not the date of purchase. As such it is wise to purchase the latest model of your preferred car seat to serve your baby for much longer or better still until he/she outgrows it.
It is for the same reason that experts discourage investing in second-hand car seats since higher chances are, it might expire sooner than you know it. And you will be on the run for another car seat.
How long are infant car seats good for?
Most infant car seats last for at least six years. As such your infant will outgrow the gear even before it expires.
The good thing is, an infant car seat can serve up to two siblings before it outlives its effectiveness contrary to other models such as convertible car seats.
Car seats do expire for a number of reasons. For instance change of safety standards, material deterioration and missing parts. Knowing your car seat’s expiration date is very important in enhancing the safety of your little passenger.
For most car seat brands, you will find the expiration date on the car seat manual or at the car seat shell. Alternatively, you can call the car seat’s manufacturer for more information.
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