Car seats can expire for a number of reasons, including wear and tear, changing regulations, recalls, and the limits of manufacturer testing. The expiration date is usually 6-10 years from the date of manufacture. https://www.carseat.org/Manufacturers/mfg_exp_dates.htm
The duration of use is determined by the manufacture date. In general, car seats expire between 6 and 10 years from the date of manufacture. The expiration date is typically listed on the shell or underside of the seat. The duration of use is determined by the manufacture date
in general, car seats expire between 6 and 10 years from the date of manufacture because they wear out. please check your manual to find the expiration date.
The typical car seat will expire between six and 10 years from the date of manufacture. When a seat expires, it’s because the manufacturer says it can’t guarantee it’ll protect your child the way it was designed to in the case of an accident. This means one thing: Don’t use an expired car seat!
Car seats are essential to keeping your infant and child safe while riding in a car. But they don’t last forever. Most car seats expire after between 6 and 10 years, depending on the model, the date of manufacture, and when it was purchased.
The average life of a car seat is 6 to 10 years from the date of manufacture. However, it’s not that simple because there are a few other important factors to consider. Read this article to learn everything you need to know about when your infant carrier should be replaced.
When you started shopping for gear for your baby, you probably placed the big-ticket items at the top of your list: the stroller, the crib or bassinet, and of course — the all-important car seat.
You check the latest car seat guidelines and recommendations, make sure your desired seat will properly fit your car and your needs, and make the purchase — sometimes spending upwards of $200 or $300. Ouch! (But well worth it to keep your precious cargo safe.)
So it makes sense to wonder: When baby #2 comes along, can you reuse your old car seat? Or if your friend offers you a seat their child has outgrown, can you use that? The short answer is maybe, maybe not — because car seats have expiration dates.
In general, car seats expire between 6 and 10 years from the date of manufacture.
They expire for a number of reasons, including wear and tear, changing regulations, recalls, and the limits of manufacturer testing. Let’s take a closer look.
How do I find out when my car seat expires?
Each Graco car seat is marked with its Date of Manufacture (DOM) on one of your car seat’s labels. To identify your car seat’s useful life, check out your manual or look for it stamped into the car seat. Both will say “Do not use this child restraint…” and will reference either a 10-year useful life (for belt-positioning boosters and for harnessed seats with steel-reinforced belt paths) or 7-year useful life (for harnessed seats with plastic-reinforced belt paths, such as the Contender™ 65 Convertible Car Seat). You’ll have to do a very simple calculation to determine the car seat expiration date.
Date of Manufacture + Useful Life = Car Seat Expiration Date
Date of Manufacture (3/15/2020) + Useful Life for a steel-reinforced booster (10 years) = Expiration Date of 3/15/2030
Can I purchase a used car seat?
As tempting as it might be to save a little cash by purchasing a used car seat or accepting a hand-me-down, it’s not a good idea. “Unless you know the complete history of a seat and that it’s never been involved in even the most minor of crashes, it’s safest to purchase a new car seat,” explains Drew Kitchens, Graco® Global Engineering Director of Car Seats. “That way, you’re assured of up-to-date car seat technology and a clean history.”
Can I reuse my current car seat for a second child?
If you have children who are close together in age—like a child who has graduated to a convertible or all-in-one car seat and a newborn—it could be possible to let baby use big brother or big sister’s infant car seat. Before making the decision, double check that the seat hasn’t expired and that all of the seat pads and hardware are in good condition.
What should I do with an expired car seat?
First, discontinue use of the expired car seat immediately. An expired seat should be disposed of in a way that it won’t be reused by anyone. To help ensure a car seat won’t be used after expiration, it is a good idea to remove the cover, cut or remove the harness straps, write “DO NOT USE, EXPIRED” on it with a Sharpie, and place it in a black garbage bag before taking it to be recycled or disposed of. You should then purchase a replacement car seat based on your child’s height and weight.
How can I register my car seat?
Graco offers three ways to register: 1) Mail in the card that comes on the front of the car seat; 2) call Graco’s consumer service center at 1-800-345-4109; or 3: register your product online. Once your product is registered, your manufacturer can notify you in the event of a recall.
Still unsure? Ask an expert.
If you still have questions about your specific Graco car seat, call the Graco customer service line at 1-800-345-4109. There, you can speak with a certified Graco CPST (Child Passenger Safety Technician), who can help you determine the car seat expiration date and decide the best course of action.
Safety First Car Seat Expiration
Car seats can be used safely only for a defined period of time, typically 7 to 10 years. Think about it: Your car seat goes through a lot during its useful life. Your child sits in the seat hundreds of times, plus the temperatures inside our cars vary greatly with the seasons (from cold to hot and back again). Graco defines “useful life” as 10 years for belt-positioning boosters and for steel-reinforced belt path car seats and 7 years for plastic-reinforced belt path car seats. Due to frequent changes in vehicles, regulations, safety technology and general wear and tear, Graco recommends not to use a car seat past its expiration date.
There are actually a few reasons why car seats expire, and no, car seat manufacturers wanting to inconvenience you isn’t one of them.
1. Wear and tear
Your car seat may be one of the most-used pieces of baby gear you own, perhaps rivaled only by the crib. With each supermarket, day care, or play date run, you’re likely buckling and unbuckling your baby numerous times.
You’ll also find yourself adjusting the seat as your little one grows, cleaning up messes and spills as best you can, and cringing as your tiny teether chews on straps or bangs on cupholders.
If you live in an area with extreme temperatures, your seat may also bake in the sun while your car is parked and get tiny cracks in the plastic that you can’t even see.
All of this takes a toll on the fabric and parts of a car seat, so it stands to reason that the seat — designed to keep your child safe — won’t last forever. And without a doubt, you want to make your child’s safety remains intact.
2. Changing regulations and standards
Transportation agencies, professional medical associations (like the American Academy of Pediatrics), and car seat manufacturers are constantly conducting and evaluating safety and crash tests. This is a good thing for parents everywhere.
Also, technology is forever evolving. (Don’t we know it. Why is our two-year-old laptop already outdated?!) This means that car seat safety stats can be improved with as new features, materials, or technologies are introduced.
Say you buy a car seat that is rear-facing and will hold your child up to a certain weight, but then the weight guidelines change for a rear-facing seat. It may not be the law that you have to replace your seat, but the manufacturer may discontinue it and stop making replacement parts — not to mention, you no longer have the safest seat possible for your little one.
An expiration date may account for these changes and makes it less likely that you’ll have a seat that’s not up to snuff.
3. Manufacturer testing has its limits
When a manufacturer — be it Graco, Britax, Chicco, or any number of other car seat brands — tests a car seat, they don’t assume you’ll still be cramming your 17-year-old in it and driving them to their senior prom. So it stands to reason that they don’t test car seats to see how they hold up after 17 years of use.
Even all-in-one car seats — ones that transform from rear-facing to forward-facing to boosters — have weight or age limits, and car seat and booster use generally ends by age 12 (depending on child’s size). So car seats aren’t usually tested beyond about 10–12 years of use.
In an ideal world, you’ll register your car seat as soon as you buy it so the manufacturer can let you know of any product recalls. In the real world, you’re up to your eyeballs in all things newborn related — not to mention sleep deprived. You may indeed be using a (recent and unexpired) hand-me-down car seat with no registration card in sight.
So expiration dates ensure that even if you miss a recall announcement, you’ll have a relatively up-to-date car seat that is more likely to be free of problems.
A note on used car seats
Before you purchase a car seat from a yard sale or borrow one from a friend, check for a recall via the manufacturer’s website. Safe Kids also maintains an ongoing list.
Note also that a used car seat may be less safe than a new one. A used car seat or booster is generally not recommended unless you can be absolutely sure it hasn’t been through an accident.
There’s no universal answer to this, but we’ll give it our best shot: Generally, car seats expire between 6 and 10 years after the date of manufacture. Manufacturers such as Britax and Graco publish this on their websites.
No, it doesn’t suddenly become illegal to use a car seat at 10 years and 1 day after it was made, and there won’t be a warrant out for your arrest. But we know that you’d do anything to keep your sweet babe safe, and that’s why it’s recommended that you replace your car seat once it expires.
Looking for information about when your specific car seat expires? The best place to check is the manufacturer’s website. Most brands have a page dedicated to safety information where they tell you how to find the expiration date.
- Graco shares that its products have expiration dates on the bottom or back of the seat.
- Britax tells users to find the date of manufacture — by using the serial number and instruction manual — and then provides expiration dates based on when different types of seats were made.
- Chicco provides an expiration date on the seat and the base.
- Baby Trend gives an expiration date for its car seats as 6 years post-manufacture. You can find the manufacture date on the underside of the car seat or the bottom of the base.
- Evenflo car seats have a date of manufacture (DOM) label. Most models expire 6 years after this date, but the Symphony line lasts for 8 years.
You don’t want anyone else using your expired car seat, so taking it to Goodwill or throwing it in the dumpster as is aren’t good options.
Most manufacturers recommend cutting the straps, slicing the seat itself, and/or writing on the seat with a permanent marker (“DO NOT USE – EXPIRED”) before disposal.
Truth be told, if you also want to take a baseball bat to your car seat and let out some pent-up aggression in a safe environment… we won’t tell.
Baby stores and big-box retailers (think Target and Walmart) often have car seat recycling or trade-in programs, so keep an eye out or call your local store to ask about their policy.
It’s tempting to be cynical and believe that car seat expiration dates exist to support a billion-dollar baby gear industry wanting to get more money out of you. But actually, there are important safety reasons behind limiting the life of your car seat.
While this doesn’t mean you can’t take your sister’s car seat when your nephew outgrows it — or use baby #1’s car seat for baby #2 a couple years later — it does mean that there’s a certain time frame within which this is OK. Check your seat’s expiration date by looking at its label, usually at the bottom or back to the seat.
We recommend registering your car seat as well — and carefully following installation instructions to avoid compromising the safety of the seat. After all, your baby is the most precious cargo your vehicle will ever transport.
Last medically reviewed on September 17, 2019
2 sourcesexpandedHealthline has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.
- AAP updates recommendations on car seats for children. (2018).
- Car seats and booster seats. (n.d.).