Car Seat Information.....

Updated on June 18, 2009
L.S. asks from Tipton, IA
19 answers

Hi moms,
I got a car seat '07 but now its about 6 years old manufactured in '03 and we are expecting our second child in Feb.'10 I was wondering if we can use that one or do we have to get a new one? Does anyone know how long is to long to keep a car seat??
I also got another one its a bigger car seat at a gargae sale yesterday and it was manufactured in '01, is that to long of date to use it for kids??? I know new saftey things are always coming out for car seats so maybe there is a "expiration date" on them. I have contacted Graco in e-mail as well but thought maybe other moms would know also. I know I have plenty of time but Im a planner and need to know what we need to get way ahead of time:)
Also I was told its illegal to get a used car seat, is that true???
Thank you so much for any advice you have!! L.

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So What Happened?

Thank you everyone for your great advise. I was just hoping we wouldnt need to get a new infant car seat but I know we will now. Im sticking to graco and e-mailed them they said its not illegal to buy a used car seat but not recommended. Also since both car seats are expired they said not to use either. So thanks again Im very glad I checked on all that and Im glad I posted it on here! L.

Featured Answers



answers from Minneapolis on

Carseats "expire" after 5 years. The reason being is the plastic and such start to breakdown. It isn't illegal to get a used carseat, it is however not always safe. If a carseat has ever been in a vehicle in an accident then that carseat needs to be thrown away and replaced again due to the plastic and latch systems.



answers from Des Moines on

I believe the general guideline is 6 years, but there should be an expiration date or 800 number stamped into the plastic of the carseat somewhere.
As far as I know it's not illegal to buy a used seat, it's just not advised because you can't be certain how the seat was cared for or if it was in an accident.
Because the whole idea of the car seat is to keep them as safe as possible in a worst case scenario, I wouldn't feel comfortable using the older seats and I'd just get a new one. Better safe than sorry, right?

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answers from Bismarck on

what i was told was the car seats are only good for 5 yr becasue the plastic on them expand and contract from the weather being too hot or cold and that makes the plastic easier to break during car crashes.



answers from Janesville-Beloit on

no you shouldn't use it for your new baby because it expires this year it's not illegal to use a used car seat but you don't know the history & it could have been in an accident & then you aren't supposed to use it again.the one you bought at the rummage sale is also out dated & shoudn't be used. the reason being because we have such a change in the weather & the seat gets cracks in the plastic that we don't see but in an accident it could break apart



answers from Wausau on

car seats typically should be destroyed and thrown out after 6 years. some newer ones are coming out now that can be used longer. some seats have a "good until" date on them.
I don't know if it's illegal to get a used car seat, but it isn't a good idea. you don't know if it was ever in a crash or anything about it.
I would definetly get new seats. look at ones that have higher weight limits for all stages - rear facing, foward facing with the 5 poit harness and then to be used with a seat belt.



answers from Minneapolis on

When I worked in Public Health our carseat safety experts said your car seat shouldn't be more than 5 years old. Not only because things change but the strap's material starts to breakdown and gets week after that.

Buying a used carseat at a garage sale isn't a good idea no matter how recent it was made. Carseats are often recalled and you wouldn't know if it was. I suppose you could check with the companie. Also, a carseat needs to be discarded if it was in an accident, even a minor accident can make a car seat not safe. Do you know for sure a used carseat wasn't in an accident or recalled?



answers from Minneapolis on

Before you use any carseat please check them for recalls. This is usually as easy as entering the make and model and year into google search with the word recall and you should know if the seat you are putting your kids in, has any problems.

Manufacterers recommend 6 years maximum for carseats. It is amazing how much better carseats are made today than they were even 4 years ago when my daughter was born.

Buy used clothes and get a new safe carseat. Your children are worth it.



answers from Minneapolis on

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE DO NOT use your old car seat!!!! There should be a manufactures date stamped in the plastic and if not it is defiantly outdated. The recommended the life expectancy of a car seat is 6 years. HOWEVER every year they improve the designs and safety so I don't keep them for more than 4 years.
As far as the one you got at a garage sale, get rid of it NOW. You have no idea if it was in a car accident or how it was taken care of. Even if it wasn't in a accident it might have taken a fall off a storage shelf. Also it is too old and so many improvements have been made in the recent years it is not safe.
As far as illegal to sell a car seat, I don't think there are laws, but I do think it is immoral to sell one.
If you can't afford (income qualified) a new car seat check with your local county agency to see if they have any help or resources available.
Sorry to be harsh but I've seen what happens to improper car seats and ones that are not installed right. Remember just what these car seats are protecting, your sweet babies. They deserve the best......
Once you get new car seat I'd also have them installed properly. Call your local fire hall or ambulance service to see who will do car seat installations (usually free).
Good luck, congrats on your upcoming new bundle......



answers from Minneapolis on


Many carseat companies sell these "grow with your child" carseats that are supposed to last from newborn until they are 80-100 lbs. I wouldn't ever buy one because they keep redesigning and the carseats wear out before then - if not structurally then cosmetically. I have 4 kids and they all still need carseats. I buy a new carseat for the oldest and everyone younger gets handed the next one down. When the carseats are about 4-5 years old, they are worn out, but I had more kids needing boosters at that point, so I just bought new boosters.

Here's a good article explaining the "six year rule." Actually, it's not a rule, it's a recommendation from several major carseat manufacturers and Britax is considering extending it to 9 years. There really isn't a lot of research done on how long a carseat lasts - this is a manufacturer's recommendation and the manufacturer has a conflict of interest.

It's not illegal to buy or sell a used carseat, it's just not recommended because you don't know the seat's history. Is it a good idea? No. But is it immoral, evil or does it make you an incompetant parent? Of course not. It's totally possible that the carseat will hold up and most likely, you'll never be in an accident so you will never find out. But there is a risk associated with a used carseat and it's better to be safe than sorry.

Congrats on #2,



answers from Minneapolis on

Plenty of people have used car seats. The ECFE sale in Roseville sells them every year, the thrift store sells them, people sell them at garage sales. I have never heard of an actual case of a used car seat being blamed for the death or injury of a child. Installing them incorrectly is a way bigger problem. Personally, we bought a new rear facing infant seat and when our DS outgrew it we switched to used seats for financial reasons. I have no problem using a used seat.


answers from Minneapolis on

Get rid of both seats, they are both expired and need to be destroyed. Instead of just tossing them in hte trash, cut the harness, remove the covers, and write 'DO NOT USE' in black marker on the plastic.

car seats generally expire 6yrs from the date of manufacture. If you are in a bind and need a new car seat, the Cosco Scenera fits infants really well and will rear face t o35lbs and forward face to 40lbs, and most kids can use it until age 3/4. Its $50 at Wal Mart, good buy if you need a basics car seat that will last you 3/4yrs before your child outgrows it.

Its not illegal to use a used car seat, but its dangerous as heck. you have no idea if that car seat was in an accident, how it was treated, if the harness was submerged in water or put in the washing machine (that breaks the fibers making it unsafe) or if it were damaged on an airplane from being checked, etc. Its expired anyway and I'm sure way beyond being safe. Unless you trust yoru childs life iwth the person you bought the seat from, get rid of it. and find the car seat safety, and then click 'find an event inyour area' to talk with a CPST, someone who is specifically car seat trained who can answer your questions and hlep you get a car seat for cheap if you need one. PLEASE don't use used seats unless you trust the person you got it from with your childs life. I doubt you do if you got it form a garage sale or a used shop/second hand shop.... those people are only out ot make a buck and don't care about your child. Its a dangerous practice. A new seat is easily afforded and 100% safer.



answers from Minneapolis on

I have used 2 used car seats for my daughter. Of course they weren't quite as old as the ones that you have. I agree that the design of more recent seats have improved the safety of those seats but to think that the plastic frame could degrade in 6 years is hard to believe. I agree with another poster that you should check to see if the seat has been recalled and to check the seat itself to make sure that it looks in good shape. I am unemployed right now and with finances being tight I have no problem using a used car seat- one thing is that I got one from my Sister and on from a close friend so I knew their background. Just make sure you take it to the local fire department so that they can help you get it installed properly. That is the most important step.



answers from Omaha on

You have a lot of great posts already, but I just thought I would add that when my second son was born we were not allowed to leave the hospital with him until some had ensured that our infant seat was less than 5 years old (it had an expiration date on the side of it). Just something to think about...



answers from Minneapolis on

Hi L.

Used car seats are not bad. I only bought one new car seat and the rest have been from thrift stores and garage sales and found no problems with them. I am not saying that all carseats/boosters won't have problems.

Just take the necessary precautions. Overall be sure it is free from any defects. Make sure the straps are not frayed or looked worn, make sure the shell has no cracks in it or show signs of wear. Make sure the buckles are free from rust or any modifications that may have been done to it. If you really want to be really cautious, call the manufacturer or check the website to see if it was on the recall list.

A lot of people from these posts say not to use them, but how does one know that a car seat wasn't dropped at the place they made it or fell off a pallet on the way to the store. How often are new ones (right of the shelf) are checked over thoroughly for any possible visiable defects. Also new ones are really often recalled because of some defect. As for the date on them, I think everything must have an "expiration date" on them.

One post indicated that Once upon a child doesn't take used car seats, but I have seen them in there before that were used.

This is a highly opinionated subject. Overall, use your own judgment. If you and your husband are ok and comfortable with using used car seats, then just go ahead and do it regardless of what others may say.



answers from Minneapolis on

You should not use a car seat that is more than five years old, so neither one of your car seats sound like they will work. You should also never use a car seat that has been in an accident, which is why they recommend that you don't purchase used ones. It is not illegal, but unless you really know and trust the previous owners, you have no idea what that car seat has been through.



answers from Rapid City on

Manufacturers recommend a 6-year expiration date for a reason. That reason isn't greed. Plastic degrades over time. Especially when exposed to sunlight and extreme temperature changes such as occur inside a car. My husband didn't "get" that until he dropped an old plastic tote on the garage floor, and it shattered. No, car seats are not made from the exact same plastic, but they are plastic nonetheless. Please watch the video below:

Buying and selling used carseats is not illegal. But, I would say a brand new, cheap seat is far safer than a used, high-end seat. Especially if you don't know the history of the used seat. I would buy a used seat from someone I knew and trusted, but not from a thrift store or yard sale. People are dishonest. I don't say this lightly: there are very few things that I won't buy used, but carseats are one of them.

I would go without food before I would risk my child's life in an expired seat. If I am ever in an accident, I want to know that I did everything possible to protect my child. Guilt is a hard thing to live with.



answers from Sheboygan on

I have read in MANY places not to get a used carseat (such as from garage sales) because you do not know the history and if it's been in an accident or not. I have heard 5 years, but we are using the same ones for our second child (4+ years later) but then again, we know that they have not been in any accidents and have been stored/handled appropriately (not droped down any stairs or anything that would cause damage to the structure)



answers from Minneapolis on

Most manufacturers put a limit of 6 years on their car seats, but not all. The best place to find this information is inside the instruction manual that came with your car seat. If you can’t find the information (or the instruction manual) call the manufacturer and find out. And don’t forget to ask for another manual, most companies provide them for free.

The reason they put an expiration date on carseats is that the parts and/or frame degrades over time makeing the carseat no longer safe.

No it is not illegal to sell used carseats. I personally have only purchased a booster seat second hand (just the base kind). You never know if it has been in a car accident, unless you are getting it from someone you know.



answers from Minneapolis on

When we had our first child I found out you are not suppose to use a car seat after ten years. The protective foam can wear out over time I think. I had called the maker of the seat and that is what they told me. Also you can sell car seats at gargage sales but when you buy them used you don't know if that person was ever in an accedent with it. I know stores like once upon a child can't take them.
Good luck with the car seat.

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