Why Do Car Seats Expire: Protecting Your Child’s Safety

If you’re a parent or caregiver, you understand the importance of ensuring that your child is safe at all times, especially when on the road. One of the most critical safety precautions you can take when driving with your child is ensuring they are securely fastened in a car seat. However, you may not be aware that even the safest car seats have an expiration date. Yes, you read that right – car seats have an expiration date, and it is not just a marketing gimmick. Let’s explore why car seats expire and the importance of replacing them.

What is the standard lifespan of a car seat?

If you’ve ever shopped for a car seat, you’ve most likely noticed that most come with an expiration date, usually ranging from six to ten years from the date of manufacture. According to experts, this lifespan is due to several factors, including deterioration of critical components over time, changing safety standards and regulations, and changes or upgrades in car features that may affect the car seat’s efficacy.

Why do car seats have an expiration date?

Car seats’ expiration date is not an arbitrary or random number but rather a guideline set by law and manufacturers. There are several reasons why car seats have an expiration date, including:

  • Safety Standards: As technology advances, so do safety standards and regulations. Car seat manufacturers constantly innovate and make changes to their products to comply with such standards. Car seats manufactured several years ago might not meet updated safety standards, making them less safe than newer models.
  • Material degradation: Over time, car seat components such as the plastic, fabric, webbing, and springs, break down and deteriorate, causing the car seats to become less effective. Sun exposure, extreme temperatures, fluid spills, and constant use all contribute to the material’s aging process.
  • Product recalls: If a car seat is recalled for safety reasons, an expiration date ensures that car seats are only used for a specific time, minimizing the number of potentially faulty or recalled seats in use.

When do car seats typically expire?

As mentioned earlier, car seats typically expire six to ten years after the manufacture date. However, several factors can affect the expiration date, including the type of car seat, manufacturer guidelines, and the specific model of the car seat.

  • Infant Car Seats: Infant car seats are typically outgrown before they expire, with most infants outgrowing their car seats before their first birthday. An Infant’s height and weight usually determine when they will need to switch to a convertible car seat.
  • Convertible Car Seats: Convertible car seats are designed to be used from birth until the child reaches a certain height or weight limit, typically around 40 to 80 pounds. These car seats typically have a longer lifespan than infant car seats, about six to ten years.
  • Booster Car Seats: Booster car seats are designed for children who have outgrown their convertible car seats but are still too small for the car’s seat belt to fit properly. The lifespan of booster seats ranges from six to ten years, like convertible car seats.

How do you know if a car seat is expired?

It is crucial to know whether a car seat has expired before using or purchasing it. You can locate the car seat’s expiration date on the manufacturer’s label, which is usually located on the back, side, or bottom of the seat. You may also find the expiration date in the car seat manual or printed on the car seat’s shell. Most car seats feature labels with “Do Not Use” or “Unapproved” written on them, indicating that the car seat has expired or has been recalled.

What happens if you use an expired car seat?

Using an expired car seat can compromise the seat’s ability to protect your child in the event of an accident. Expired car seats have passed their intended lifespan and might have deteriorated, making them less responsive during a crash. Additionally, expired car seats may not meet current safety regulations and standards, increasing the risk of serious injury or death in an accident.


Now that you understand why car seats expire, it is essential to prioritize replacing an expired or old car seat with a new one, regardless of how well-maintained it may appear to be. Ultimately, your child’s safety should be your top priority, and replacing outdated car seats is one of the best decisions you can make to protect their lives.


  • Do all car seats expire?
  • All car seats have an expiration date, regardless of the type or model.

  • Why do car seats expire if they still look new?
  • Although car seats may still look new, crucial components can deteriorate, making the car seat less effective or safe in the event of an accident.

  • What can I do with an expired car seat?
  • It is not advisable to continue using an expired car seat. Once it expires, it is time to replace it. Car seats should never be reused or resold because they may be damaged, expired, or recalled. Instead, dispose of the car seat responsibly.

  • Can I use a car seat past its expiration date?
  • No, it is not advisable to use an expired car seat.

  • Can I sell or donate an expired car seat?
  • No, an expired car seat should never be sold or donated. Most manufacturers recommend disposing of car seats after they have expired.


  • Why Do Child Safety Seats Expire? (n.d.). Retrieved October 13, 2021, from https://www.saferide4kids.com/blog/why-do-child-safety-seats-expire/#:~:text=Car%20seats%20expire%20because%20the,technology%20advances%20and%20standards%20change.
  • Car Seat Expiration: How to Know and What to Do. (2021, April 20). Retrieved October 13, 2021, from https://blog.safeamerica.org/2021/04/20/car-safety-seats-expiration/
  • Graco – Car Seat Expiration Dates. (n.d.). Retrieved October 13, 2021, from https://help.gracobaby.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/2926/~/car-seat-expiration-dates

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