Did you know that child car seats have an expiration date? A lot of people don’t, but if you look at the tag attached to the car seat or you look under the seat, you can usually find an expiration date. Now this date is not strictly enforced, and it serves as more of a recommendation than anything else, but it is something that parents should know about.
The expiration date for most car seats is about six years. Booster seats can last longer, since they aren’t as complex, and most of them are good for 10 years or so. Now, part of the reason for the expiration dates is to help sales slightly. But that’s only a small factor, and the main reason for the dates boils down to safety, pure and simple.
The typical car seat is made from plastic. It may be durable, but it is not invincible, and that plastic is going to wear away in time. Heat from sitting inside the car is going to warp the plastic, while wear over time will make it likely to crack or fall apart. But the primary cause of car seat degradation is collisions. Anytime your car has been in a traffic accident, no matter how minor that accident is, you need to replace the car seat.
You may have heard that’s it’s okay to keep the car seat if you can drive away from the accident, but you really can’t be too careful when it comes to your child’s safety. The car seat could have suffered imperceptible cracks or other damage in the accident. You might not be able to see these problems, even after a careful inspection.
It’s safer to just replace the car seat after any traffic accident. You also don’t want to buy car seats secondhand, if you can help it. You just never know what the car seat has been through and how it may be damaged. It’s better to be safe and only buy your car seat new.
Another reason for the expiry date on car seats is that these are products that are always being updated. New regulations require different features being added to car seats. If your car seat is out of date, it may lack certain safety features that can protect your child. Your car seat may also not be perfectly compatible with your car’s seat belts and safety features because it isn’t a modern car seat.
It is possible that your car seat will be okay past the expiry date. It may still be able to protect your child at that point, but you are putting your child at risk by placing them in an outdated car seat. It is better to just play it safe and replace your car seat when it is time. Your child’s safety needs to be your top priority, so if you don’t know what the expiry date for your car seat is right now, it would be a good idea to find out.