Car Seats Expire

Beware of Seat Expiration DatesManufacturer's label on the side of a Britax Roundabout convertible car seat

  • What: Car Seat Expirations
  • When: 6-7 Years from date of manufacture
  • Why: Nothing lasts forever
  • Where: Sticker on side of car seat

You know all about choosing the right kind of car seat for your child, and how to get the safest installation. But did you know that car seats expire? Each brand differs, so you often have to read the instruction manual to find the exact lifespan of your particular seat. (Some brands print the expiration date on the label.) But the general rule says six years from the date of manufacture, which is not necessarily the date you got it. (Some car seat brands go to seven years, but that’s more the exception than the rule.)

Manufacturer's label on the side of a Britax Roundabout convertible car seat

Here is the manufacturer’s label attached to one of our convertible car seats. Then you have to read the manual to see how long they last (seven years in this case) and do the math to get an expiration date of September 2017.

Why would you get rid of a perfectly good, never been in an accident seat that still fits your child? An expired seat may not perform adequately to protect your child in the event of a crash – even if it fits your child perfectly and is installed properly. Car seat components deteriorate over time from sun exposure, heat, and other elements and need to be replaced.

Side view with all the labels on a Britax Marathon convertible car seat

The side view of one of our convertible car seats showing a ton of labels attached. The manufacturer’s label with the date is the white one peeking out from under the soft cover at the upper right.

I find it particularly painful with siblings who might still be using the seat bought six years ago, since car seats cost a lot and even I don’t get them secondhand.

We just ditched one of our seats because it expired and another one expires in a couple months. Most seats have a sticker on the side that gives you either the date of manufacture or the expiration date, if not both. Check it regularly, or better yet, just enter the date into your electronic calendar a month or two before it expires so you have time to get and install a new one.

Side of a booster belt positioning car seat with manfucaturer's lable shown attached to bottom

You can see the white manufacturer’s label on the base of one of our highback booster car seats.

Beware when buying as well. We ordered a booster seat online, and when we got it brand new out of the box, it was already three years old! That’s half the lifespan of the seat and we hadn’t even put it in the car yet.

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