Is It Against the Law to Use Infant Car Seat Manufactured over 5 Years Ago?

Updated on February 19, 2012
C.K. asks from Chicago, IL
20 answers

I have a 7 year old infant car seat in excellent condition. I have heard the notion that they perish from the heat in the car and the plastic weakens etc, but is it actually against the law to use it, if over 5 years old? Also on a similar note, if I were to buy another infant seat that is NEW and on special at less than 50%, along with the stroller but it is a 2009 model, does that mean I am already out of 3 years on the seat, and therefore strictly speaking there could only be 2 useful years left on it?? Doesn't seem such a bargain to me then? This will be our last baby. We live in Chicago, IlLinois, in case each state is different. I have tried searching to see if it is against the law or not, so hopefully someone can shed more light on the correct answer.
On the bottom of the seat iI have, is a date of manufacture only, no expiration date. I just thought I saw somewhere that it is 5 years from manufacture but even then I'm not sure where I saw it.
I usually buy from well known online stores so how can you check dates on those seats?
Thanks kindly!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thank you for all your input. I guess I didn't look hard enough, but I finally found the imprinted DO NOT USE PAST...on the bottom of the seat.
A special thank you to Jess for her very informative answer!
I think I will use my convertible car seat that my 2 year old has been using as a rear facing seat for the baby in the car, and buy my 2 year old a new car seat.

Featured Answers


answers from Kansas City on

If there is a law let us know. I used drop side cribs, my kids slept on their stomachs, we stood up in cars in back seats and would lay in the back window on trips. Neighbors rode in backs of pickups. Now I live in fear for my grandchildren and which seat to use and can I put them in the drop side crib or what.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

I wouldn't use a seat that's that old if you paid me. Sorry. If a seat is so old that there's no expiration date, that's just asking for trouble. I would never use a seat that's past its stamped expiration date either. I don't know that it's against the law but it's just unsafe.

The plastic and other materials can degrade and become brittle. The model could be so out of date that anyway that the safety standards it was built with are obsolete.

But I'm not one to play Russian roulette with a baby's life in the car. I would just get a brand new seat that I know is safe.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Chicago on

Hey mamas, I'm a car seat tech, so please know this is from a real source. Unless otherwise stated on the seat, they expire after 6 years. It's not against the law, but it's very much not recommended to use an expired seat. I wouldn't tell any parent to do something that I don't do personally--I would not use an expired seat. Even if the seat looks fine and has been well cared for, plastic and styrafoam degrade. It's not the harness we're worried about (although after 6 years I've yet to see a harness that doesn't have horribly twisted, crusty straps), but the shell of the seat and the foam that provides impact protection. Same goes for bike helmets. I promise you that I really don't believe this is a scam by the manufacturers. Here's a little tip I give families to save money: buy a convertible seat. They are safe for newborns (most are 5 lbs minimum weight) and your baby won't outgrow it until they are 3 or 4 yrs old, depending on how big your baby is, how quickly they grow, and what the weight and height limits are on the seat. This also allows you to keep your baby rear-facing until at least 2 years old. If you want the convenience of an infant carrier, bring the expired seat with you (in the trunk so it doesn't become a projectile in a crash). You can use an expired seat for a carrier if there's nothing wrong with it, just don't use it as a car seat. I work at Children's Memorial Hospital and am the coordinator for Safe Kids Chicago. We provide free car seat inspections and we also have reduced cost seats available for families in need. They are $25 and we have all sizes to fit all kids--convertibles (rear facing then forward facing later), combinations (forward facing with a harness, changes to booster later), and boosters. Please call and leave a message at ###-###-#### and I will personally call you back to schedule an appt.

Hope that helps, I know seats are costly, but I wouldn't compromise on this for my kids.


7 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

It is not against the law -- an old car seat is better than no car seat. But if you are in an accident, and the baby is injured, your insurance company may not compensate you for those injuries.

You can trade your old car seat in at Babies R Us and get a 25% discount on a new one during their trade-in event.

I was slightly annoyed that I had to buy a new car seat for my last baby, but I paid less than $100 for it. I spend more money than that on cable TV each month, so it puts things in perspective.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Missoula on

I believe seats typically expire after 6 years, but each seat should have an expiration date on the seat itself. Check yours to see what it says. The same if true for any new seat you buy, check the expiration date when you are shopping.

I'm not one to just blindly follow rules, but this doesn't seem like the place to save a few bucks. I would toss the old seat and find new one. There are plenty of good, affordable ones out there. I have found great deals at Target, and on seats that were discontinued models, or prints that were not made any longer.

And, is 8kidsdad really suggesting that car seats are not necessary based on the fact that his immediate family didn't use them and didn't die in a car accident? That make as much sense as saying that I've never known anyone who died of cancer, so it's safe for me to smoke.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

It is not against the law. I would not use a really old outdated seat. HOwever I would use a seat that looked fine was well cared for. and within a few years past the date. Do we throw away cars when they are 5 years old??? Dont car seat belts last the life of the car?? my husband is an automotive engineer and he says the car seat manufacturers are trying to sell more seats.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

No, it is not against the law. It's just not recommended as the standards change and they can get warped in the heat and cold.

On the bottom of the seat SHOULD be an expiration date. If it has passed, it's best and safest to throw it out.

Even on the "new" model you want to purchase from a store - look at the expiration date. You can call the manufacturer too.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

When it comes to my child's safety, there is no expense too much. Yes, you should buy a new car seat and feel secure knowing that he/she is as safe as possible.
My nephew was killed at the age of 5 so safety is something that is on the front of my mind at all times. Don't risk it.
@8kidsdad: That is the dumbest thing that I have ever heard. Car seats are proven to save lives. Go look at any youtube safety video.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Mansfield on

There are "experation dates" on carseats. My parents use an older carseat for the few times they need it for my daughter (next to never) and we've checked the date on the side of the carseat and also looked online for any recalls on it.
I don't believe it is against the law, but better to be safe than sorry. Perhaps your local police/sheriff/fire dept can check it out and make it meets safety standards?
On a side note, there are some great economical carseats out there for under $100 (Target, Walmart, etc.). Hope this helps.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Rockford on

Honestly, I would probably use it until I could get a newer one. I really don't know what the carseat laws are here in Illinois for the age of the seat. You might want to call the police station or the fire department and ask. They should have all the up-to-date information on the matter.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I'll reiterate what the other mamas are saying: First, there is no law against using an older car seat. And typically the expiration date (which should be either stamped on the bottom/on a sticker on the bottom/side of the seat or on the owner's manual) is 6 years from the manufacture date.

What I don't believe the other moms have mentioned is that the safety standards are constantly being updated, so that's a BIG reason why it's important to have a current car seat -- you'll know that it meets current NHTSA (National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration) standards.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I couldn't find a law. However:

It shouldn't be used because it might not be safe anymore. I would go with the safest seat you can afford to buy rather than the one that is the biggest bargain.

We turned down free convertible seats because they were older and modern seats had better safety standards. Plus the expiration thing.

You can do things like get JUST the infant seat and get a snap n go from a garage sale or freecycle. No need to get the whole stroller. Or get an older stroller sans seat and get the seat new. Many manufactuers keep the same lock mechanisms. Or go with a convertible from the get-go and skip the infant seat (and price). Many fit infants from 5lbs up.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Much to my surprise, I was just told that car seats have expiration dates on
them somewhere. I would probably buy a new one. I would think "what if."

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Each car seat manufacturer will state somewhere in the seat's owner's manual something along the lines of "Do not use after ___ years from Date of Manufacture" - for most infant seats, this will be 6 years from date of manufacture. If you can't locate the seat's owner's manual, go to the manufacturer's web site - many have the manuals available to download, or an 800 # to call for them to send you a replacement one.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I think the 5 year mark is a suggestion and not something that will be enforced. First of all how would they enforce it?

It is my opinion based on many years of dealing with regulations that the seat is still safe to use if it is not showing any wear. The manufacturers have to set an expiration date to avoid law suits because some seats are not safe after that length of time.

In addition to the regulation concerning expiration dates, I would factor in how likely is it that I would be in an accident? It's all a matter of balancing everything out. I would use the seat. Yes, you may be taking a less than 1/2 of 1% chance that you child will be injured. But then again you may not.

Yes, if you're in that accident you want your baby to be safe. I suggest that a car seat that has been taken care of and is in like new condition will be safe.


answers from Chicago on

with all due respect to 8kidsdad, there is a reason why they call infant carseats "the orphan seat." When a serious accident occurs, it is very often the case that the adults in the car and other children in boosters or with regular seatbelts are killed, but pretty rare for the infant in the carseat to be killed.



answers from Chicago on

Find a safety check for car seats. Install the one you have and go to it and find out two things. If you need a New one and is installed correctly. Check with local hospitals and police dept. To find out when they will be having one.



answers from Chicago on

Hi there... my step father is a cook county sheriffs police officer. i asked him the same question about a year ago and his answer was. It's not against the law at all but if for some horrible reason you ever got into an accident and something happened to your child (in illinois if a child is involved in an accident even a reported fender bender search and rescue come for the child to check him or her out) search and rescue will check your carseat and you could be in big trouble ontop of your child being injured. i was told carges simular to unintended bodily harm to a minor and some kind of neglect and child endangerment.... dont risk it get a new one you can get a decent car seat for 100 bucks maybe not top of the line but it will be up to code/standards.... good luck and i hope this helps



answers from Phoenix on

It's not against the law. Personally, I think the "expiration" date on car seats is just a way for the manufacturers to make more money by making you feel like a bad parent if you don't. Car seats are made of plastic, metal, foam, and fabric - so are cars, bikes, scooters, etc., and they don't have the same expiration date.



answers from Chicago on

no, and different car seat manufacturers will say their seats last different times. I have heard anywhere from 7 to 9 yrs as being ok. NEVER have I heard only 5 yrs.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions