do car seats expire

Do Car Seats Expire ?

do car seats expire

Do Car Seats Expire?

Do car seats expire? In short, yes; and it can be a real mind-bender for parents. Although car seats are no piece of fruit that overripe over time, but, like most things, car seats come with an expiration date and a limited life span. Knowing how to understand, locate and use this information takes you one step forward to ensure maximum child passenger safety.


Factors That Affect the Lifespan of a Car Seat

An interesting fact about car seats- it is one of the very few and rare consumer products whose purchase and correct use are decreed by law. Although these laws vary depending on your residing area, they all require children to be properly strapped into a child restraint system, which is essentially a car seat, while traveling.

 Car seats have very limited recycling alternatives. Yet, parents are obligated to purchase a new product as soon as the car seat reaches its maximum value, and as their child outgrows each seat.

But why car seats come with expiration do dates? Car seat expiration dates were developed by manufacturers through extensive testing of their materials. These tests are performed to confirm that the materials can hold out against travel events such as sudden stops, the child’s fidgeting, and extreme temperatures in a closed car.

As of 2014, manufacturers concluded that a particular car seat functions its best for 6 to 10 years from its manufacturing date. There are several safety reasons why manufacturers place an expiration date on car seats. These include:

Better Technology

Just like your smartphone and its software updates, car seat manufacturers, too, periodically update their product designs to enhance their performance. Expiration dates ascertain that you are not missing out on any necessary updates.

Tip: store your car seat instructions and manual in a safe accessible place. That way you can easily find any information, or guidelines or contact the manufacturer if needed. If you happen to lose the hard copy, you can search for the model online or visit the manufacturer’s website for more information.

Wearing Out of Materials

Car seats are not immortal. The quality degrades and the materials were out as you keep using it. For example, the temperature inside a closed car is usually much higher a lower than the temperature outside. These extremities cause the materials to become brittle.

Tip: you should go ahead and get a new car seat even if you think your current car seat looks great. Most of the time, the breakdowns are not visible to the naked eye. The lifespan of a car seat ranges typically from 6 to 10 years, although some car seats, depending on the manufacturers, have a shorter lifespan. You should plan your purchase accordingly.


 If your car seat it is not expired yet but is under a recall, you should follow up immediately.

Tip: if you are unsure whether your seat is under recall, give a quick call to the manufacturer and find out. Your car seat is most likely to come with a sticker with the company’s customer service hotline. If you are unable to find, it a quick Google search will help you locate the number.


Car seats are usually designed to survive one collision only. You should get a new car seat soon after you have been involved in an accident. You may properly repair it but it is best to replace it.

Tip: It is typically rendered unsafe to use second-hand car seats, because of the unknown damage or history they may contain. However, if you have to, be sure you know the product’s full history.

How Do I Find Out When My Car Seat Expires?

Expiration dates are normally printed on a sticker that is stuck to the seat itself. You can locate it next to the car seat model number.

Infant car seats usually come with removable bases. The base and the seat have two separate expiration dates. You should ensure to check both dates for extra safety.

Sometimes the car seat comes with the manufacturing date and not the exact expiration date. In that case, you have run some calculations in your head to find out the expiration date, by counting forward 6 years. This is the AAP’s recommended number of years you can use the car seat for. For example, if the manufacturing date is 9/5/2020, you can use it for the next 6 years and the expiration date would be 9/5/2026.

If you find a seat that does not come with an expiration date or even a date of manufacture, the safest option is not to use it at all. This implies the seat is very old, and outdated and may not be able to serve its purpose, which is to protect your child in the event of a crash.

Recycling Car Seats

Car seats come with limited recycling alternatives, and the safe reuse of car seats is just as challenging. This is because manufacturers and safety experts strongly discourage parents to use second-hand car seats or reusing car seats with unknown histories, as it compromises the safety of the child.

Unfortunately, car seats are costly; this often acts as a barrier to child safety for several parents. Many hospitals extend their hands of help and provide cheaper car seats to families in need.

Once your car seat has reached its expiration date, it is best to dispose of the old car seat properly, in a way that prevents anyone from using it in the future. Safety experts again recommend taking out the parts of the car seat which are removable and safely disposing of them separately. If you are near a recycling center, you may check if they accept the removed car seat parts.


Car seats compose of a mixture of recycled and non-recycled materials. They weigh about 15 pounds; this weight comprises an estimated 85% of rigid plastic, 5% metal, and 10% cloth. However, these percentages vary depending on the design and manufacture of the seats. If you are concerned about the weight, you can check our article ” Best lightweight car seat” to get some idea about lightweight car seats. Car seats are made up of such sturdy materials and a design to withstand a collision that it is difficult to recycle. Stripping down the large plastic, hard foam and metal require a lot of labor. Breaking down the car seat to its parts requires removing straps and covers, losing up the screws and bolts, and having the rivets drilled out. If we were to pull up a quick calculation, it would imply the cost of labor and other recycling costs will outweigh the value of the recoverable materials. And this does not act as an incentive for parents to recycle the expired car seat.

Once the seat crosses its expiration date it is pretty much useless, one more option is to leave it at a car seat trade-in program; these are usually hosted by big-box stores like Target or Walmart.

For a better and greener tomorrow, there should be car seat use and recycling programs conducted. These programs should work on ensuring expired car seats are removed completely from use and parents have access to safe second-hand car seats. Such a successful program will require the involvement of a wide range of entities- from car seat users who are willing to donate and recycle their used car seat hospitals, healthcare practitioners, Car seat safety technicians, and other recycling hotline workers who will educate users about car seat uses about safe, recycling and most importantly child passenger safety. If the whole system comes together, we can have organizations that implement reuse programs, recyclers who are willing to work with the donated car seats by processing the materials, and finally manufacturers who design greener products.

How to Get Rid of Expired Car Seats

  • Separate the fabric, and remove the straps and foam padding.
  • Unclick and separate as much metal as possible with the help of a screwdriver.
  • Discard all the separated pieces.
  • Discard the plastic base completely because it is rendered unsafe.
  • .Recycle the remaining plastic and the removed pieces of metal.



What is the longest car seat expiration?

Generally, car seats last between 6 and 10 years from the date of manufacture.


Is it illegal to use an expired car seat?

No, it’s not illegal to use an expired child safety seat, but it is strongly discouraged and highly unsafe for your child.

Is it OK to use an expired car seat?

You should upgrade to a new car seat as soon as your current one reaches its expiration fate because using a car seat even after the allowed time period is highly dangerous and compromises your child’s safety.



Car seats are expensive, but crucial for your child’s safety. The materials used to keep your little one safe degrade over time. This is why it is highly recommended to upgrade to a new seat as soon as the current one is rendered unsafe.


Keeping an eye on your car seat’s expiration is one of the many things you have to do as a parent to be at the top of your game. But this comes after you have conquered the battle of finding the most appropriate car seat for your child. And you have to go through all the hassle again once your car seat expires or your child outgrows it. Allow us to make your life easier and introduce you to our best lightweight infant car seats available.  

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