Some people might be shocked when a parent asks the question “How long are car seats good for?” Who would have guessed a seat expires as well, right? That is why very few parents are aware of the fact that their child’s car seat is almost approaching the end of its life.
Some people tend to assume that the expiration date is just a ploy by car seat makers to force people to buy a new car seat every now and then. However, that is not true at all.
The bottom line is that car seats do expire, and these limits are put in place in order to give your child the best possible protection in the unfortunate possibility of a crash. This is especially important if the seat has been passed down between siblings, relatives or friends, and if so, it is most likely that it has already expired without you even knowing it.
It is also essential to be careful about buying car seats online that are unbelievably affordable. It may be very tempting to buy one, but the price may likely be so cheap since the seat may be close to its expiration date or has already expired.
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Why Do Car Seats Expire?
We know it sounds unbelievable that a car seat expires but as mentioned, yes, they do. Of course, there are reasons behind it, and here are the most common ones:
Rust can develop on certain metal parts which are completely unseen and will affect how the car seat would perform if it were in a crash.
- Deterioration of the Materials Used
Typically, car seats are produced using hard plastic, which is known to deteriorate in time and after several uses, making it out of date in terms of its safety. Temperature, UV rays, and humidity can also have a serious effect on the material. It could make the whole unit brittle, which ultimately makes it unsafe.
- Missing Pieces
It is common that after several years of use, the car seat will go through a considerable amount of wear and tear. All the pads get washed frequently, and even the belts get switched from the front facing to rear facing and back again. Without a doubt, we can say that all of this will contribute to small pieces and parts getting lost which further reduces the effectiveness of the car seat.
- Advancement in Car Seat’s Technology
The constant crash tests that are done allow manufacturers to collect data, which, in turn, help in evolving the technology in car seats that protect your children. This pushes the manufacturers to constantly create newer models of a car seat that meet all of the new safety standards and the practice recommendations.
When you end up using a close to expiry or an expired car seat, that would mean that the seat is not equipped with all the latest technologies that could potentially be lifesaving in a crash.
- Discontinued Models
Again, the technology for car seats is constantly evolving; thus, it is very likely for older models to be discontinued. So, if you own a car seat model that is discontinued, finding replacement parts can be very difficult as they will no longer be manufactured.
How Long Can You Use Car Seats for?
Ideally, you can use a car seat for a minimum of six years and a maximum of ten years, but this entirely depends on the brand and the manufacturer. In most cases, you will not find the expiration date of the seat written on it. You will most likely find it in the instruction manual, or on the manufacturer’s website. If you still do not find an expiration date, it is best to speak to the customer care of the brand.
Below, we provided you with a list of expiration dates of some of the top car seat brands.
- Recaro: Six years
- Diono: Eight years
- Graco: Seven to ten years depending on the model
- Maxi-Cosi: Ten years
- Safety 1st: Six to eight years
- Chicco: Six years
- Cosco: Six years
- Britax: Six to nine years
It is important to note that some states in the USA have different laws about the use of car seats. You could be subjected to a fine if you are found using a car seat that is obviously broken.
With that in mind, if you are opting to buy a second-hand car seat to save some money, it is crucial that you are super-vigilant. Unfortunately, it is close to impossible to just look and tell whether a car seat is damaged internally, which is why most experts advise against buying car seats that are previously used.
A better solution is to opt for a new car seat that is simple or those that do not have fancy features. In this way, you have saved a certain amount of money without compromising your child’s safety.
What to do with an Expired Child Car Seat?
Now that you know how long are car seats good for safe use, you also have to understand that it is essential that expired car seats be destroyed appropriately so that no one picks it up assuming that the seat is still good enough to be used.
An easy way to destroy a car seat is by cutting up all of the covers and the harness straps. You can also use a large hammer or a saw to completely break the shell. We believe this is a great way for stress relief too!
Alternatively, you can let a garbage truck pick up the car seat and have it crushed for you. In certain places, you can recycle the car seat by calling your local recycling center and asking which pieces of the seat are recyclable.
Knowing how long are car seats good for is absolutely essential for your child’s safety in an unfortunate case of an accident. Whether you buy a very expensive one or a simple one without all those bells and whistles, always opt for a new one instead of a used one as you can never be sure of how safe it actually is.