If you had your baby car seat for a while or are looking to use your existing car seat and base for your new baby you may have started to wonder ‘do car seats and bases expire?’
Obviously, when it comes to your baby safety is your priority.
And travelling with your baby in the car is no exception.
That’s why we created this expired car seat guide, to teach you everything you need to know about expirations on car seats and bases.
Here you’ll learn do car seat bases expire, how to check if your car seat is expired, how long do car seats last, when to replace your baby’s car seat, and what do you do with an old expired baby car seat.
Do Infant Car Seats Expire?
One thing that often surprises parents is that car seats and car seat bases have expiration dates.
Yes, car seats will typically expire after six years from the date of manufacture. There is a sticker on your car seat that provides the serial number includes manufacture and expiration dates.
You may be wondering why do infant car seats expire?
And that’s a great question.
Mostly you’ll find that car seats and bases will expire to allow for advances in technology (to improve the safety for your baby) and to accommodate for general wear and tear.
But car seats will also decay on their own over a period of time.
How Do Car Seats Expire?
You may be wondering how a chunk of hard plastic and fabric can possibly expire but that plastic is exactly why.
Your car gets extremely hot and extremely cold. This temperature fluctuation leads to the plastic in your child’s car seat breaking down over time leading to the risk that the plastic may not hold up to the impact of a car crash.
Car seats generally expire after about 6 years. This means the average infant carrier seat and base can last 1 family for more than one child. It is not advised to sell the infant seat when you are done using it or to buy them used to save money because you never know the conditions that someone else kept their car seat or if they crashed.
The best practice when it comes to car seats is to keep them in the family.
The 6 year life span of a car seat is the same for convertible car seats that can often last a baby from the newborn stage through preschool. These larger heavy-duty car seats are a great way to ensure that you can get your money’s worth from your baby’s car seat. The average child will stay in this car seat for its entire life span and be ready for a tall back booster by the time this car seat expires.
Booster seats like car seats also expire.
These devices, while not as protective, still rely on plates to keep your child and the seatbelt in a safe position that protects your baby from harm. For the best results, you should be mindful of the expiration date on the boost seats as well. Although these likely do not outlive their usefulness for one child if you have multiple children and pass the booster seat down this can eventually become an issue.
What About The Base Of Your Infant Car Seat?
Does car seat base expire?
Yes! Car seat bases are just like the rest of the car seat and your infant car seat base will expire.
These contain materials that break down and warp with time. To be safe, never purchase an extra-base from someone. This is because as convenient as having an extra car seat base is you never know if that car seat base was installed in a car when there was an accident.
Many parents sell these bases because they do not realize that the car seat base expires just like the main part of the car seat does.
How To Check If Your Baby’s Car Seat Has Expired
Most car seats and bases have a sticker on the back that will inform you of the car seat’s expiration date.
This is important to find before using your car seat if it is an older model from a past child. If you do not see the date on your old used car seat you should replace it.
Very old car seats do not have labeled expiration dates or the sticker could simply have worn off.
Some models of car seats will have an engraved or stamped date of manufacture along with other important information on the back.
If this is the base you can count up to six years from the manufacture date to get a rough expiration date for your car seat.
Do Car Seats Expire After A Crash?
Unfortunately, you may crash long before your car seat’s expiration date.
Any sort of car crash with the car seat installed whether your baby is in the car or not should be treated the same.
The car seat is no longer safe for your child and should be replaced.
Many insurance companies will replace car seats after an accident to help their customers afford to make the best choice for their babies.
What Other Times Should You Replace Your Baby’s Car Seat?
While it is vital to replace your car seat after a crash or the expiration date has approached there are other times you would replace your car seat.
Car seats get messy and need to be cleaned often. This cleaning can wear down the fabric and padding on the car seat. Many parents decide to sew these fabric parts or even try making their own car seat covers. This is not a good idea. The original cover was designed for the seat and crash tested with the seat.
If this part needs to be replaced, you may be able to purchase a replacement from the manufacturer but if this is not possible a full replacement of the car seat is the best course of action.
You should never use an after-market addition to the car seat that has not been tested and approved by your car seat manufacturer. This is because adding in different fabrics and padding to the car seat yourself could create a hazard that could lead to your baby getting hurt in a crash when that fabric and padding compress too much and allow your baby to slip from the straps.
What Do You Do With An Old Expired Baby Car Seat?
If you’ve passed your car seat or car seat base expiration date, you dispose of your car seat.
You should never sell or donate an expired car seat.
To dispose of your baby’s car seat, look for a local car seat recycling collection, often run by hospitals and fire departments, or contact your local recycling center to see if they take the type of plastic used in your car seat.
If you do not have any luck with these options, contact the manufacturer to see if they have a recycling program before throwing the car seat in the trash.
The same goes for the bases of infant car seats.
Final Thoughts on Expired Baby Car Seats
Car seats and car seat bases do expire, so it is important to check and keep track of the expiry dates so you can ensure the safety of your children.
We hope this guide has been helpful in answering your questions on how long car seats good for and how often to change your car seat and bases.
And if you’re looking for more great baby guides, then check out these guides on car seats compatible with Uppababy Cruz, car seats compatible with Uppababy Vista, Graco classic connect vs click connect, and best convertible strollers.