Do Car Seats Expire?
Do Car Seats Expire?
July 8, 2022

Do Car Seats Expire?

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Do Car Seats Expire?.
Do Car Seats Expire?

Your little one may be done with the swaddle and grow out of your bassinet before you know it, but a car seat is one item of baby gear that’s going to be with you for the long haul. But just how long, exactly? And will you be able to use your car seat with a second (or third) baby, or pass it along to a friend?

The ins and outs of car seat safety can be tricky, but knowing when it’s safe to use your car seat—and when it’s time to toss it—is important information for all new parents.

Do Car Seats Expire?

“Yes, all car seats certified within the United States and Canada have an expiration date,” explains Babylist Registry Consultant and Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) Rebekah Kimminau. This includes all types of seats: infant car seats (and their bases), convertible car seats, all-in-one seats and boosters.

How Long Are Car Seats Good For?

Car seat expiration dates vary by manufacturer and model, but most seats last between about six and 10 years. In general, manufacturers aim to set a car seat’s expiration date roughly to match the seat’s designed length of use.

Why Do Car Seats Expire?

According to Kimminau, when a manufacturer sets an expiration date for a car seat, they use research to back up their decision and take a few different factors into consideration:

  • Designed lifespan. How long is this car seat designed to be used for?
  • Materials. What materials were used to make this car seat, and how long do these materials take to break down over time (especially when left in hot vehicles)?
  • Future technology. How long in the future will new technology be released that may make an updated version of this car seat significantly safer?
  • Replacement parts. When will replacement parts for this car seat no longer be available?

How To Check if Your Car Seat Is Expired

You can check if your car seat is expired by looking for a sticker with the date of manufacture (DOM).

“All car seats will have a sticker with a DOM listed somewhere on the car seat,” explains Kimminau. “Some seats have the expiration date printed directly into the plastic of the shell, while others list the expiration date on the same sticker as the DOM.”

You can also check your car seat’s manual for the expiration timeframe and do the math yourself using the DOM and the expiration timeframe.

What Should You Do With an Expired Car Seat?

The two most important things to do when your car seat is expired are to make it unusable and to dispose of it properly, says Kimminau. This includes:

  • Cutting the straps.
  • Removing any soft goods or fabrics.
  • Writing “expired do not use” somewhere on the shell of the seat.

Car seat recycling programs are also a good option for disposing of your expired seat. Big-box stores like Target and Walmart now offer these types of trade-in programs several times a year where you can bring an expired or damaged car seat and redeem it for a store coupon.

SOURCES

  • Rebekah Kimminau, Babylist Registry Consultant and Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST)
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