23 answers

Do Car Seats Need to Be Only So Many Years Old?

I thought I once read that Car seats were illegal after they were so many years old. Did I make this up or imagine it? I am looking to buy a forward facing car seat soon and someone gave me one of their old ones, so any information you can give me would be great!

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Featured Answers

Sorry if this is a repeat of what someone said, but it's also important to know the history of the car seat (i.e. if it has been in an accident, etc.)
If that is an unknown, it's better to be safe than sorry and buy a new one!

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I have never heard carseats being illegal. I know that not having the right one, will cost you a fine or your childs life.
But I called the local fire station because I was unsure about the requirements for my 4 year old.
Children are supposed to be in a 5 point harness until they are 40 lbs. Then they can move to a booster after 40 lbs.
Babies under 1 year old should be rear facing, no matter how much they weigh. You can buy rear facing carseats that go up to 40 lbs in case your child reaches 20 lbs before they are one, or just grow out of the infant carseat before 1. Which my son will, so I have to go buy a rear facing carseat that is bigger. Hopes this answered your question! =)

1 mom found this helpful


Car seats have expiration dates. Check the side for a sticker that has the expiration date. Or they should not be used if they are older than 5 years. Also, you will want to verify that the car seat has not been in an accident.

There is a Just Between Friends Children's and Maternity Consignment Sales event coming up March 13-15th at the Overland Park International Trade Center (115th and Metcalf). They will have car seats, as well as lots of other stuff, that you can check out.

Good luck!

I don't know about them being illegal, but you do need to get new car seats every 5 years because old plastic gets brittle/stressed after many years in the heat & cold of your car.

God bless!

Sorry if this is a repeat of what someone said, but it's also important to know the history of the car seat (i.e. if it has been in an accident, etc.)
If that is an unknown, it's better to be safe than sorry and buy a new one!

I don't believe it is illegal, but I think they recommend not to use them if they are older than 5 years due to the fact that they may not be as secure. Overtime the plastic in them can fail and keep your child as safe. I have three almost four children and used the same seat for my first two, but changed when my youngest was forward facing because our seat was over 5 years old and it was obvious to me that it needed replaced. Good luck!

You didn't imagine it. Newer ones have an "expiration date", but the standard guideline is 6 years, dependent on the manufacturer. I don't know if "illegal" is the correct terminology, but safety organizations recommend not using one older than that. You should be able to find a lot of information on the manufacturers website and Consumer Product Safety Commission websites and the like.

Carseats do expire now they are stamped on the back of the seat,this started I want to say 5-6 yrs ago maybe longer.If you have and are using a carseat that is much older I would discard it and buy a new one.They aren't considered safe after several yrs they have wear marks on the plastic and have been in an accident that is headon the airbags have deployed and the vehicle is totaled.I'm sure i'm missing a few more key items but I think you get the point.Also with any carseat that is used how do you know if it has been mistreated in an accident or how old it is also when it is taken apart for a cleaning it needs to go back directly how it was taken off one lack of loop on the belt will send your child flying so if it doesn't have the original manual how do you know for sure it is correctly installed.You could call the 1-800# on the carseat and give them the serial # to see if it has been recalled but it is highly recomended that no used carseat should be used or given to someone else alot of second hand stores are now not selling or buying used carseat's because of the saftey of the child.

After 5-6 years the plastic starts to deteriorate. I don't know if they're illegal, but I certainly wouldn't feel comfortable using one. Just check the date on the seat, and if it's expired you're going to have to get a new one.

The rule is no older than 8 years. The Health Department puts out a pamphlet on car seats that has alot of information in it. Your car seat also has a day printed on the back or melted into the plastic so you will always know how old it is. The problem with used seats it you just don't know it they were ever in a crash. They may have a hairline crack and you would never know. Consumer reports also does reports on the best and worst carseats. Check your local library.

The best thing to do to find out expiration date is check the owner's manual or call the manufacturer. Although a lot expire after 5 years not all do. There should be a code with manufacturer's date on the carseat.

I just recently learned this myself. I was told if the Car seat is over 5 years old, the baby isn't allowed to leave the hospital. There should be a date on the car seat. Of course if the car seat has been involved in any kind of MVA, they don't want it to be reused (which is understandable). I don't know where you live, but i was recently informed that Children's hospital in St. Louis has a program where you call them and set up a time to meet with them. For 25.00 they will install it proberly into your car and give you the car seat. I thought that was a pretty good deal!! I do have an extra car seat that my girlfriend gave me from a few years ago, and i'm planning on using that as a back up for my newphew that is about to be born in April. You know, you always need extra car seats in nearly every car that you have. I just wanted to make sure that I am covered for when he comes to our house. Anyway, for a long and drawn out answer.....Yes according to the "goverment/hospital" your car seat can't be more than 5 years old when bring baby home from hospital. Good luck and have fun!!

Car seats do expire. As a general rule, you shouldn't use any seat 6 years old or older. Check the seat to see if it has an expiration date (most do). It should at least have a date to tell you when it was made. Next, locate the manufacture date & serial number and call the manufacturer and check to make sure the seat hasn't been recalled or hasn't expired.

Other than that, just make sure that the seat hasn't been in an accident, that it's in good shape (no cracks, straps aren't worn or frayed, etc.) Also, make sure you have the manual.

i think that they are good for 7 years (i think). they have a date on the back somewhere as to when they were made. you can check with a hospital or fire station and they can tell you. i know from experience with this since i bought a good car seat at a garage sale and then when i was being discharged after having my daughter the hospital checked the car seat and said it was expired and that i couldnt leave with my daughter (she couldnt be released) until i had the proper car seat. i guess its due to the plastic can wear down after so many years on the seat.

You are correct, except I don't think that it is illegal to use an expired car seat, just very strongly recommended against. Most car seats will have an expiration date either on a tag or permanently stamped on the base of the car seat. Or, some will have a manufacturer's date and I believe that you are not supposed to use one after 7 years of the manufacturer date if it doesn't have an expiration date on it. If the one you have does not have either one of these on it, it is probably older than the "shelf life" of the seat and you might want to consider purchasing a new one. You can get a very good, safe, and comfortable one for about $50, although I know several people who have spent considerably more for theirs and they can't tell that mine was only $50 and mine has the same features, if not more, than the more expensive brands. And, yes, I did do my research and made sure that I wasn't sacrificing safety for affordability. Good luck!

carseats expire every six years,and I know this for sure my husband installs them.He is not allowed to install one that's expired.Since safety standards are updated all if the time.The seat will have the expiration date either on the label on the side of the seat or on the back actually in the plastic.I've never heard that it's illegal but you would be definately taking a risk safety wise.The plastics are made stronmger,the harnesses have been made stronger,etc.If you have anymore questions feel free to contact me and if I don't know my Husband will.God Bless!

Seems like I have heard something about 5 years. I would check to make sure there are no recalls on it and that it fits your car correctly. They have car seat checks at hospitals sometimes, so maybe you could bring it to one of those and have them look at it.

Good Morning S., I was given a car seat for our youngest Gr son few months ago when he could finally face forward. It was well used in great condition. I had not heard of them not being usable after so many years. But certainly Things have changed recently also.

I would think if it is still Sturdy, no holes or rough places, straps in good condition it would be ok to use it.
Especially with the cost of things these days and people not being able to purchase new all the time.

Hope it works out OK for you.
God Bless
K. Nana of 4
PS Man Am I behind the times. After reading the other response, I will have to go look at the dates on ours. Had no idea. Over 30 yrs ago car seats weren't even in the mix in child safety. We had a little plastic carrier with a wire handle we brought our boys home with.

I think manufacturers recommend replacing seats after 5-6 years due to the quality of the plastic degrading but if the seat has never been in an accident than my opinion is that it's still okay to use. And, you are always supposed to replace the car seat if it has been involved in an accident because there may be some unforseen damage. If you have insurance than save the damaged car seat to turn in and most insurance companies will replace it for you.

There is a website the hospital used to check and make sure the older one we had was not recalled I would assume that website would also list if it is to old.

You'd want to make sure everything is working and clean on it, and check to make sure it's never been on a recall list or in an accident (if you got it from a friend, this probably isnt as much of a problem). We bought our first one at a garage sale, checked it out and cleaned the thing top to bottom and never had a problem.

they say to not use them after 5 years but let me tell you I preferred my older one over the new ones. The kids could not climb out of it and could get themselves out of the new ones no matter how hard I tried and I had them adjusted very tight. In fact the newest carseat I had I hated because I would look back and find the straps had undone themselves and were lying in the babies lap. I had to readjust those straps every week to make them tight enough and it also did not fit the seat well and no matter how tight I adjusted the seat belt and used the clip it would slide around on the seat so I quit using that one and went back to the 1st car seat that my oldest son had and it worked a lot better. I was hoping that new car seat would have a recall and be able to get a new one but it never did and ended up leaving it at Grandma's as it converted to a high back booster seat so she used it for the booster when they got older. If your old car seat was never in an accident and holds the child in tight and fits in your car well then you should be able to use it. Have them checked at the police/fire department as they will properly install them for you and let you know if that model is safe or not.

Yes, car seats have expiration dates on them. The logic is that the extreme heat in the car causes the straps to break down and may become defective. When you purchase a new seat, check the expiration date on the package and some are even stamped on the back of the seat. Hence, many second hand shops are no longer allowing these products to be placed in their resale shops.

My Britax and the new Compass booster I got both had manufactured dates and expiration dates on the paperwork/instruction booklet. I don't know if they are all like that or not.

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