When Do Car Seats Expire?

mom strapping baby in car seat

If you’ve ever asked, “how long are baby seats good for?” you’re not alone. Every day, thousands of drivers travel the roads with either the incorrect car seat or one that’s reached its expiration date and are no longer safe. When do car seats expire? On average, you can expect to use a car seat for between 7 and 10 years safely. Once you start approaching the seven-year mark, it’s a good idea to start shopping for a new brand or model. 

What causes a car seat to expire? How do I know if one is expired if I can’t find the date? We’ll answer these questions and more in the following article. 



How Do I Know When a Car Seat Expires? 

A car seat without any visible warning signs might seem perfectly safe. In fact, if you weren’t aware of the expiration date, you’d probably continue using the seat well past the recommended window. Normally the expiration date is stamped into the plastic on the side or rear of the car seat. Sometimes, it’s printed on a sticker around the same area. If you cannot locate the seat’s expiration date and have no owner’s manual, you can contact the manufacturer and provide them with the model and serial number. This information allows them to look up the expiration date or any potential warnings easily.

Because of the hard plastic used to craft most car seats, it’s difficult to imagine one reaching an expiration date and becoming unsafe for use. The next section explains why a baby seat has an expiration date. 

Why Do Car Seats Expire and Become Unsafe? 

Many drivers probably assume that a car seat’s hard plastic exterior leads to decades of safe use. However, the plastic tends to work against the lifespan of the car seat for several reasons. Consider the following situations: 

  • Hard plastic slowly deteriorates from continuous exposure to the elements. Extreme heat, freezing cold, direct sunlight, and damp, humid locations all take a toll on plastic, making it brittle and prone to cracking. 
  • Car seats also contain small metal components (screws, washers, etc.). These small parts begin rusting after a certain length of time, which only furthers the deterioration process. 
  • Recalls may also become an issue with certain models. These can lead to discontinuing an entire lineup well before the expected expiration date.
  • Technology moves at a lightning-fast pace in our current world, and it’s difficult to keep up with all the changes. However, when significant breakthroughs occur, new car seats will adopt these updated features, making old models nearly obsolete. 
  • On the same note, advances in the safety of products lead to models becoming outdated. 
  • Finally, general wear and tear is a major culprit of outdated car seat models. The constant rubbing and moving of seat belts and other important parts ultimately lead to failure if you don’t upgrade. 

Learn More About Your Road Safety with Sam Leman Automotive Group

If you found this article thoroughly answered the question, “When do car seats expire?” you should check some of our additional vehicle safety content. Find out how fast you can travel on a spare tire, how to create a winter safety kit, and many more. We invite all and surrounding area drivers to schedule service at any of our stores if you notice anything unusual or unsafe with your vehicle. You should even look into minor changes just for peace of mind- and we’ll make sure your car is performing efficiently, and get you back on the road safe and sound. 


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