car seat expiration

Understand Car Seat Expiration Before You Regret It

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Car Seat Expiration

When you think about car seats, you probably don’t think about expiration dates, which are generally used for foods or items that are perishable. However, it’s important to put these dates on all car seats, due to the fact that there are a number of factors that go into establishing these dates. They’re not just arbitrary numbers, and they serve a purpose. You should pay attention to the one on your car seat and not ignore it.

Where to Find

To find the expiration date associated with the car seat you own, all you have to do is take a look at the product itself. The dates should be printed on the seat or on a label that is affixed to the seat, most likely on the bottom or side. The label itself offers up quite a bit of information, but the most important details are the manufactured date and the expiration date. The former tells you when the seat was made and the latter tells you when it should be discarded. It is important to use these dates as a guideline, as they are essential in keeping your child safe.

These dates should be on every type of car seat; it doesn’t matter what type it is and what size child it is made for. If you can’t find the dates on your seat, do some research or call the customer service number for the car seat maker, to get information on what the dates are and where to find them.

A good resource for finding information on your car seat expiration date is the manufacturers website. For example,  Britax, one of the most popular car seat manufacturers that we have featured regularly on Kid Sitting Safe, provide the following information on their car seat expiration dates on their website:

Britax Car Seat Expiration

Britax Car Seats manufactured June 2010 or after

  • Infant car seats have a service life of 6 years.
  • Convertible car seats (excluding the Classic line) have a service life of 7 years.
  • ClickTight Convertible car seats have a service life of 10 years.
  • Harness-2-Booster seats have a service life of 9 years.

Britax Car Seats manufactured prior to June 2010

  • The service life for Britax infant car seats (including the base), older infant/child car seats, youth seats, and belt-positioning booster seats prior to June 2010 have a service life of 6 years from date of manufacture.

To prevent injury due to deterioration or hidden damage, do not use child restraints or booster seats older than their service life or if it has been in a moderate or severe crash. You can find the date of manufacture on the child restraint/booster seat serial label.

Looking to replace your Britax Car Seat? Check out our Britax vs Chicco and Britax vs Graco Car Seat Reviews to see if you should stick with Britax or give an alternative brand a go.

Why Car Seats Have Expiration Dates

Some people are convinced that expiration dates are just another way for the people that make car seats to bring in more money. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are many considerations that go into these dates, which is why they should be considered serious and followed at all times.

One reason for these dates is the materials the seat is made from. As you may be aware, car seats are generally made from synthetic materials, which can break down over time. The more high quality a car seat is, the longer the expiration date will be from the manufactured date. For instance, a Britax car seat expiration date may be longer than some less expensive brands, due to the high quality of Britax products.

Another reason for the dates is that they account for changes in technology. After a few years, there may be new technology being put into the design of car seats, which could make your child’s time in the car even safer. You wouldn’t want your kid riding around in a 10 year old car seat that had a design flaw, when a new one would make them more protected.

The short video below is of a crash test involving a 10 year old child car seat. This provides an example of just one element of the seat that wears out causing it to fail - the straps. In the video the straps break free and the child flies out of the seat.​

When to Throw It

Although you don’t have to throw away your car seat the minute it expires, it is important to stop using it as soon as possible. Car seats can be destroyed and some parts can even be recycled, so you don’t have to be concerned with the impact on the environment. There are also a couple of other reasons to stop using your car seat immediately.

One instance when you should get rid of a car seat very quickly is if you are in an accident. Even a minor car accident can affect a car seat, so you should purchase a new one if you think yours has been damaged in an incident.

It should also be disposed of, if and when the seat itself is damaged in any way. If a tiny piece falls off or cracks, it may affect how the seat can be restrained with the belts and straps. This would mean it doesn’t work effectively and can’t be secured properly.

​The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) website provides further information and recommendations about when to replace a car seat in the event of an accident. NHTSA recommends replacing child car seats following an accident unless it was a minor accident, which they define as one that meets ALL of the following criteria:

1. The vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash site; and
2. The vehicle door nearest the safety seat was undamaged; and
3. There were no injuries to any of the vehicle occupants; and
4. The air bags (if present) did not deploy; and
5. There is no visible damage to the safety seat.

What You Can Do

If you don’t want to have to keep throwing away car seats that you are spending your hard earned money on, it is best to do research into how long the brands you are considering last. Purchasing a brand that lasts a long time can save you money and keep your child covered for a longer time period.

Besides that, some brands of car seat offer special features when you register the product. They’ll let you know of any safety concerns, recalls, and alert you when the seat has expired. You will also be able to find out which parts can be recycled and where you can take them to throw them away properly.

You can find all the info you want on safety seats, rules, and guidelines by checking out this website, Kid Sitting Safe, which offers details on a number of issues regarding child safety seats and more. If you're looking to purchase a new car seat for your loved one a good place to start is our Top Rated Car Seats, which provides our current recommendations across all the different types of car seat.

It’s also a good idea to stay on top of the laws in your state about children’s safety issues, and particularly, the car seat safety rules, which can help you make sure you are always following the laws with your kid’s seats and when driving them in the car.


Car seat expiration dates are more important than you may think and aren’t simply to make you spend more money. They’re printed on children’s seats to keep them safe and to ensure they don’t wear out while they are being used. The materials the seat is made of, as well as advances in technology dictate these dates. It is imperative that you know what these dates are, so you can keep your kids safe. After they are no longer good, they need to be disposed of properly and replaced. The size and style of the seat doesn’t make any difference, as these rules govern all types of car seats that children may use.

You can even save a bit of money by asking around to see what seats last the longest and hold up the best, because the most expensive brands don’t necessarily last longer than other brands. For information on these topics, as well as other topics regarding safeguarding your children’s lives, please have a browse around our site for informative articles and reviews.


Robert is a father of a young daughter and has developed an expertise in child car seat safety. He is a keen supporter of the use of child safety systems having seen his daughter come away from a side impact collision unscathed due to the use of a child car seat. When he's not spending time reviewing child safety systems he works as a Technical Manager on major construction projects.

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