Car Seat Expiration Dates. What??

Updated on January 28, 2013
H.M. asks from Columbia, MO
14 answers

Hi Mamas,
I'm pregnant! I'm PREGNANT!!! :) (may I inject a little nausea into that statement too? Because that's how I feel right about now.) Anyway, my daughter will be 5 in about two weeks and we've just had her travel system including her car seat in storage for the last 4 years or so since she's grown out of it. I was under the impression that I'd just be able to use it for the second one. Granted, we didn't think it would take this long to get pregnant with the second one, but that's beside the point.

So, given that the expiration date on my daughter's seat is 2013, what do I do? Do I need to buy a completely new car seat? Is it just a marketing ploy by the manufacturer to put the expiration date on the car seat? If there really is a safety concern, what do I do with my old car seat? Just give it away? This seems like such a racket to me. What are your thoughts and experiences?

Thanks ladies!

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So What Happened?

Great information, ladies! Thank you for your thoughtful responses. Yes, of course, better to be safe than sorry. I'd just never heard of this until very recently and it struck me as dumb. But all this makes total sense. Thank you!

Featured Answers


answers from Tampa on

The plastic breaks down over the years. And depending how it was stored, in a hot garage or such it can really be worn. I'd replace it just for peace of mind.

8 moms found this helpful

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answers from Washington DC on

It's not a marketing ploy. Please invest in a new seat for your child's safety. You can sometimes turn in old seats for a discount at stores like Babies R Us. Not only does the plastic degrade, but the safety features and regulations change. If you want to save money, get a convertible seat that is RF and FF. You don't need a bucket seat as most convertible seats start at 5lbs with the infant insert.

If you simply need to discard the old seat, take the cover off (you may be able to resell it) and cut the straps and label it "Expired, do not use".

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Victoria on

Plastic does wear down and become brittle. Idk if it is that quickly but idk enough about different plastics to actually know what kind they use.

think of it like this. tire companys suggest you change your tires everyonce in awhile. people complain the car was an old lady hardly driven the tires look new. yes but they are OLD and it wears out. like a rubberband. although you bought it brand new you left it in the drawer un touched still "new" but you pick it up and it snaps and crumbles.

have you ever been outdoors and come across a plastic bowl? if its been out there for a time it crumbles and is brittle. its weird. idk if i would risk it.

i assume you are at the start of your pregnancy and wotn need the chair for 6 or more months. i would donate it to a womens shelter or sell it and use that money towards a new car seat.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


No, it's not a marketing ploy. The plastic degrades and it is not as stable as it once was. They get dropped, they get hot, they get cold, the plastic can get stressed....

The date on the car seat should be specific as to what date it expires. Compare it to your due date and how long you have. Personally? I would purchase a new one.

The old car seat? I believe there are places that take them and recycle them - you can google it for your area...

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Don't save a few bucks, even a few hundred bucks, at the risk of a baby's life. Get a new one. As others note, plastics break down but you cannot see it. Don't depend on your own eyes in this case.

Also, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalls infant car seats all the time. Check to see which brands have recall issues and get a brand that doesn't.

As for your old car seat -- you should not donate it to charity or give it to a friend for the very same reason you should not use it yourself. Many charities will not accept car seats, period. It seems wasteful but you need to throw it out.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

It is not a racket or conspiracy to force you to make an unnecessary purchase. The bottom line is threefold - safety criteria and designs change (improvements are made, errors are corrected), materials break down (plastics, foams, Styrofoams, fabrics)(also not just from sun damage or heat or cold but from age) and companies do not have test data for older make car seats. In other words a manufacturer may not be able tell you how to anticipate how your now 5 year old car seat will perform in an accident. They test the new designs but they don't pull older car seats off the shelf and repeat the testing after one year, two, three, etc. So who is to say how an aging car seat will perform? Whatever risk you are taking with that car seat will be entirely on you. I say infant car seats can be found relatively cheap so in the scheme of things buy an inexpensive new one and move along. Remember places like Babies R Us will take your old seat and provide you with a coupon for buying a new one. They destroy the items you turn in for the reasons I stated above. Good luck and congratulations.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

The plastics and materials do break down. Especially, when they are in a room that is not temperature regulated...or have sat in the sun (Garage, or storage facility w/ no a/c/heat.) If it were a racket, they would expire every year or so. There is a video (sorry, don't have time to find it) you can google search for. It's about car seat expiration dates, and car seats that were crash tested, after the expired. Scary stuff.

Why wouldn't you rather be safe then sorry, is what I wonder...?

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

If you have a Babies R Us near you they are doing their trade in event and you can take the expiring carseat in and get 25% off a new car seat. They do another one in late August--early September if you can wait that long.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I'll be the only one to opinion it is a marketing ploy....but make your own decision.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I also think it's a marketing ploy. If the materials in a car don't expire, then the materials in a carseat shouldn't expire, either. How does plastic, metal, fabric, and foam expire, exactly?

That being said, I am a law follower and would replace the seat.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on


I just want to add to the other posts that using an expired car seat can have insurance ramifications. I have read about insurance companies refusing to cover damages and even injuries sustained by children who were in expired car seats during a crash. Whether it's a marketing ploy or not, it just isn't worth the risk.

Also, I want to restate what Leigh R. said - do not donate or sell your expired car seat. Toss it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

contact the manufacturer and find out what the expiration date means. Ask about any features (especially safety) new car seats have that your model does not. Does your old car seat meet the current standards that are required today? Ask if there is anything (straps/molding) that wears out over time. Where was it stored? Was it in a temperature controlled room or in a hot attic?
Then I would make my decision. Congrats on the new baby-hope you feel better soon.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Congrats! Yes, you need to buy a new carseat. I wouldn't chance your precious cargo to save some $$$. Carseats are generally still good for 6 years. But beyond that, the plastic and other materials breakdown over time and it is very unsafe. Even if there was no use for a while or no accidents, I would still buy a new one.



answers from Detroit on

Yes, carseats expire. The plastic breaks down and the harness can rip right out. There is an older Britax seat in a crash test online, and the child crash dummy gets ejected and "dies." You don't want to risk your baby's life. You can get a new one for as little as $40, and the prices go up to hundreds.
Stay safe, and enjoy the ride!

Also, older seats sometimes lack newer safety features. You need to cut the straps out of the old one when it expires and put it on the curb, with expired written on it. You don't want anybody picking it up and using it, taking such a risk.

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