I have found a lot of people do not know car seats expire! I did not know until we had our daughter, but thank goodness we had a new one with our son anyways.
Most car seats expire 5 to 6 years after the manufacture date, although some may not expire until even later than that.
Why do car seats expire? With how often car seat regulations change and how the plastic can deteriorate it is very important not to use an expired car seat. There is some debate on the subject and I agree that the car seat does not automatically become defective on the expiration date. However, it is safe date to go by and out of all the things to splurge on what better than the safety of your child? That is why car seats expire!!
Another important thing to remember is anytime a car seat is in a vehicle that is in a moderate or severe crash the NHTSA recommends that it be replaced (your insurance may even cover the cost for a new seat). There is no way to know how much damage was done or how effective it is after the crash without putting your child at risk. They say if the wreck is a minor one it does not need to be replaced. In order to quality as a minor crash it must meet ALL of the following criteria:
- The vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash site
- The vehicle door nearest the safety seat was undamaged
- There were no injuries to any of the vehicle occupants
- The air bags (if present) did not deploy
- AND There is no visible damage to the safety seat
Also, to ensure the safety of your little one make sure your car seat is installed correctly. You can find a list of places in your state that can inspect your car seat to make sure it is installed correctly by doing a google search or going to the NHTSA site. It is hard to know if it is installed just right with some car seats, and others make it much easier to ensure that it has been installed safely. The extra features that show you it has been installed correctly may cost a little more but are worth it in my opinion. If you don't want to spend the extra money then just go to a free inspection site and they will verify it is as safe as possible for your little one!
With how many car accidents there are and that being one of the most high risk places you put your child do all you can to ensure you are keeping your child safe!