Help with Infant Car Seat

Updated on March 08, 2009
N.B. asks from Dearborn Heights, MI
22 answers

I should give some background. My daughter just turned 4 in January, my son was born July 08, and my sister is due with her first child in August. My question is, how long do infant car seats last? I purchased a graco travel system when my daughter was born, and I reused the infant car seat for my son (he just got tall enough to grow out of it, so he is now in a convertible car seat). I was hoping to make good use out of the travel system and give it to my sister (saves on expenses). I don't want to give her something that is unsafe, and I've heard about a "5 year rule". This car seat will essentially be 5 years old when her child will be about 6 months, so I'm thinking it would be ok...but like I said...I don't want to give her something that will be unsafe. I guess I should also add that my daughter used this car seat for about 7 months, my son for about 8 months. It has never been in anything close to a car accident, and it seems to be in perfect condition (the material is a little faded from the sun, but that's it).
How much longer could we use this for and it still be safe? Would it be ok to be used my by sister? Has anyone reused their car seat more than once? and if so, how old was the car seat?
Thanks for all the help...I really appreciate it!

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So What Happened?

Thank for all of the advice. The article especially was truly a great help, and I will be forwarding the link to my sister so she can make an informed decision of whether she wants the car seat or not. After reading that article, I've also decided to contact Graco (who made my snugride infant seat) and verify that it's not "expired". Thank you again to all who responded...it really was a huge help!

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C.M.

answers from Detroit on

Look on the back of the car seat there is an expiration date. They are not safe after this date because of the conditions of being in a car, the extreme hot and cold. The materials and the plastic break down and become brittle so if it was in an accident after the date it could fail and break leaving the child unprotected. I believe the standard is 6 years, but I am not positive.

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N.W.

answers from Detroit on

I think it is 7 years, not 5. There is actuallly an "expiration" date on the back of mine (Eddie Bauer). The potential concern is that the plastic expands and contracts with the hot and cold weather and therefore could weaken and not perform in a crash. I don't really think there is much risk of this. I bought a new infant carrier (my kids are almost 4 years about), because I needed an extra one for my parents. I am using of the same forward facing seats...which "expired" in Jan. The other seat I have is new b/c we had to replace one that was in a crash. I don't think there is much risk to reusing it.

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M.A.

answers from Detroit on

Just yesterday there was a car seat on www.woot.com and there was great discussion regarding expiration dates and so forth. I found this person who cited an article about expiration dates -

"This expiration is a bit alarming and should be in the description. what are the laws or consequences with insurance companies if caught with an expired seat?.

None. It's a guideline. I tracked down this article where a Graco rep quotes degradation as a 10+ year concern.

Excerpt:

Graco Children's Products, one of the largest manufacturers of child restraint seats, which includes everything from newborn carriers to boosters for 6-year-olds, says it does recommend throwing out a car seat after seven years or so.

That is not because of danger that the plastic is degenerating, said David Galambos, compliance and safety manager for child safety systems with Graco, a unit of Newell Rubbermaid.

"It's not as if you'll hit the expiration date and the plastic will become weak," he said. "The plastic is good for at least 10 years. But regulations and standards are constantly changing."
...
But, he acknowledged, the seven-year date builds in a pretty hefty buffer zone.

"We're not seeing any disintegration until a minimum of 10 years," he said.

Here is the link to the article -

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/11/business/11shortcuts.re...

1 mom found this helpful
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M.W.

answers from Grand Rapids on

I have gotten car seats inspected and installed at the Cascade Fire Department. Jim is VERY good! He even makes sure the seats have not been recalled. The number is ###-###-####
He has been through several hours of training!

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A.T.

answers from Detroit on

Hi, I would say check the expiration date that should be molded into the plastic somewhere on the bottom of the carseat itself and go from there. If it's expired you should probably not give it to her but if it's still good then why not?! I used an infant carseat that expired while my son was using it and then we got a new one. Honestly I was always a little nervous about it but kept reminding myself that it should be ok, it's not like the plastic is going to morph on expiration day and disinegrate while we were driving somewhere! LOL!! It's really up to the mama on whether she wants to use it or not. Hope this helps.
God Bless!

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J.S.

answers from Detroit on

There should be an experation date on the car seat.

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B.B.

answers from Detroit on

Check the sticker...
We bought a graco when my daughter was born... It was used by all 3 of my kids and my niece. :-) So I am all with you on reusing and saving $$$...
The reason they put the dates on is that the plastic can get brittle and not be as effective of a protectant... Also if the seat has been in any type of an accident the straps have probibly been stretched... (Even a severe slamming on the breaks would put enough force on them to stretch them...)Our seat was good for more than 5 yrs... I'm thinking 6 or 7... So def. look at the date and make a judgement call from there...

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C.G.

answers from Detroit on

It is generally 6 years. Even if it's only slightly used, I wouldn't recommend going over that 6 year period. I've done a lot of research on it (as I have a similar situation), and there are other factors that go into it - temperature changes, simple break down of plastic over time, etc. It's not worth the risk!

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B.L.

answers from Jackson on

I have a Britax from my son (10/02)It has an experation on the side of it saying it expires the end of this year.I believe there is a 6 year limit check to see if your says an experation on it. We use this one as a back up for our daughter(12/07)They claim that the plastics can break down over time soo. Not sure if this helps but I would think you were okay and like I said check the date or even check the manufactoring date and then get a hold of Graco and i am sure they will give you there recomended time frame.

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D.S.

answers from Grand Rapids on

N.; yes, i had 3 kids and each of them used pretty much the same car seat, as long as that car seat has not been in an accident, the jerky slam of the car must do something to the car seat and i can understand that, usually they are pretty good, until its been in an accident, if you need to clean the straps, use baby wipes for some reason i cleaned the staps with baby wipes and it cleaned them, well, if the padding is wore out you might just be able to put in some covers, or things to help, it may be uncomfortable for a litlte one if the padding is wore out, either way enjoy life and have a good day, D. s

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L.N.

answers from Benton Harbor on

Somewhere on the seat itself there will be a date that you shouldn't use it after, as well as a date it was made. If it's before that date and hasn't been in any auto accidents (even small ones) then I would offer it to her. I gave my system (actually ALL my baby stuff) to a single mom-to-be and she has gotten plenty of use out of it. Don't be offended though, if mom only wants new stuff. I was that way with my 4yo...then I wised up! LOL

~L.

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J.M.

answers from Detroit on

My friend who is a certified car seat installer (crazy but she went to a week class on installing) says that the car seat should not be older than 7 years. So you should be fine.

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R.F.

answers from Detroit on

Check the side of the seat where all of the info stickers are and you should find an expiration date. Seriously! They typically are 5 years from the date of manufacture so that is probably where you came up with that 5 year rule. Good luck!

R.

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A.U.

answers from Detroit on

Its usually 6 years from the manufactured date. The Gracos usually have a expires on date on the bottom on the seat somewhere. Flip it over and see if you can find it.. May have to lift up the cover.

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R.B.

answers from Detroit on

I didn't look to see who else responded, but car seats last "6" years, or one accident, whichever comes FIRST.. :) The bottom of the seat should have a sticker with a serial/model #, and the manufacture date. Hope this helps!!! :)

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M.T.

answers from Benton Harbor on

Most car seats are good for six years from date of manufacture, not purchase date. There should be a do not use this seat after 20XX on the bottom of the seat somewhere. Sometimes it is molded into the plastic and sometimes it is a sticker. It would be perfectly fine to use along as it is not expired. The plastic breaks down over time and even though it looks fine, it may not be.

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P.K.

answers from Detroit on

If he's going to be 6 months old before the car seat "turns" 5 years old, I'd say you're safe even if he's in it a little past 6 months of age. It's not like the car seat (or food for that matter) just "turns bad" one day...it's a gradual process. You've described it as being in good condition, so just keep checking it. My guess is that they build some extra time into those dates, for liability reasons. If it says 5 years before it expires, then that most likely means that even under the most extreme temperatures and wear and tear, the car seat would be ok for at least 5 years.

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K.G.

answers from Detroit on

There should be a date stamped on the back of the car seat. If she does have to get a new one I reccomend the Graco safe seat! It allows you to use it up to 30 pounds. So you will not need a convertable seat and you can just get one of the forward facing ones that goes to a booster!
Blessings, K.

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R.K.

answers from Detroit on

There is usually an "expiration date" printed on the carseat somewhere. Sometimes it is in the manual or on the sticker, but I have also seen it as a raised part of the plastic in the same color as the carseat (making it hard to find). I've heard more of a 7 year rule than a 5, but I could be wrong. It isn't that the carseat is automatically bad, it's just that the manufacturer will not insure that the plastic would hold as strong in an accident. I'm sure if you look hard, or google on e internet you could find the expiration date for your carseat.

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L.J.

answers from Detroit on

there are dates on the car seats when they "expire" usually they are good for 5 or 6 years

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N.K.

answers from Detroit on

I would say your best bet would be to contact the manufacturer. I think the main thing is that it has never been in an accident. If you have had to wash the straps much, the fibers may be worn and they may not be as strong as they once were. Sometimes you can purchase new straps from the manufacturer. Hope this helps.

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K.S.

answers from Detroit on

It is six years from the date it was made, not the purchase date (typically within the same year). Check the bottom of the seat or bottom of the base it will be on the sticker with the serial and model number. It will have an expiration date, also if it will expire and you can't have your sister use it. Please take it to a fire station or police station to be destroyed. If you put it out with the garbage people will sometimes take it and use it and that is just not safe to use another persons car seat, but since it is your sister I don't see an issue! Good luck hopefully she can use the seat!

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