by Sarah on 29. July 2011 in
With my sister expecting baby number three- and on the market for new baby gear- the topic of car seats has recently been on my mind. I had heard rumors…even noticed a stamped date on my son’s car seat base…but, really…what is all this business with the expiration of car seats?
Trust me; I can see the need for a replacing a car seat after it has survived even one child…with all of the wear and tear and filth! But, can a car seat really expire? I could wrap my head around food having an expiration date, but… car seats? Because I was truly curious, I did some basic research on the matter, and here’s what I found. Keep in mind, these are only my conclusions from several articles and the recommendations from the National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration (NHTSA).
When Does a Car Seat Expire?
Generally, the rule of thumb is that car seats expire 6 years past the manufacture (not purchase) date. However, some car seats have a longer or shorter lifespan. Many car seat manufacturers put a stamp or imprint on the car seat’s base, making known the date you should replace a car seat. You can also contact the manufacturer of your seat for further recommendations and guidelines.
Why Does a Car Seat Expire?
Basically, most experts will agree on a few main reasons why car seats expire. Firstly, technology changes… in both the manufacturing of car seats, and in vehicles as well. New technology comes out that makes it possible to keep kids safer. Also, standards for safety improve and change, further supporting the recommendation to replace older car seats.
Also, car seats were not made to last forever. It isn’t uncommon to get a fracture in the base, or for belts to become more elastic over time. Again, it’s about keeping your baby safe…and after several years, your car seat may not be doing the best job at that any longer.
Lastly, car seats are not tested beyond a certain time of use. Many of the statistics and promises of a car seat are not based on it exceeding the general six year guideline.
The expiration of car seats is about getting potentially bad seats off of the road. Although your car seat may outlast the expiration date…why risk it?
How Can I Know if My Child’s Car Seat is Still Good?
Did you know that there are local car seat inspection stations nationwide? I know I didn’t. I even went so far as to call the NHTSA hotline to find out if there really was one in my area. Come to find out, there is a station about 30 miles from my home. Who knew? So…if you’re really concerned about the condition of your child’s car seat, you can always track down an inspection station by calling the NHTSA at #1-888-327-4236.
The Bottom Line
It doesn’t take long for a list of questions to form when it comes to proper car seat use. Should my child be forward or rear facing? How do I install the seat properly? Is this the best seat for my child’s safety? When does my child use a booster seat? The most important thing to remember is that there are answers to these questions, and it’s important to do your research. Apparently, 3 out of 4 car seats on the road are not used properly….and with a car seat’s potential to save your child’s life, it’s worth finding out how to use it the right way.
The bottom line is, with car seat expirations and all other guidelines, it’s about keeping your baby safe…and what’s not to respect about that?
To find out how to use your child’s car seat in the safest manner, it is recommended that you contact the manufacturer of the car seat, and you can also visit the NHTSA website to find out more about the guidelines for proper car seat use.