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How Long Are Car Seats Good For?

How long are car seats good for? Expiration dates on car seats range anywhere between six to ten years depending on the model and manufacturer.

How do I check the expiration of my car seat?

There are several ways to figure this out:

  • Look for a tag on your car seat. Most current models have a sticker somewhere on the back or bottom of the seat.
  • Review the Owner’s Manual that comes with your car seat. It could also have an expiration date listed.
  • If you can’t find the expiration, call the manufacturer and ask them for it.

NOTE: Always register your car seat immediately after purchase. This will allow the manufacturer to notify you in case of a recall on the unit. This applies to rear-facing car seats, forward-facing, and boosters.

Standard expirations for common brands

There are so many different car seats on the market now that we can’t possibly list them all. But to be as helpful as possible, we will list some of the more common brands. We attempted to find expiration labels for every brand on our list.

To make things just a little easier for you, we are also adding the contact information for each manufacturer. If all else fails, call the vendor to ask how long the car seat is good for.

Britax

  • Britax infant car seats – six years. They have been in business for about 50 years. They carry a full line of infant car seats, convertibles, and boosters. The expiration date decal should be found at the top of the seat. Look near the location of where your child’s head would be, under the padding of fabric. It is usually a white sticker. You can contact Britax here.
how-long-are-car-seats-good-for-Britax
Britax white expiration label

Chicco

  • Chicco infant car seats – six years. Italian-based Chicco has been around nearly 60 years. They offer car seats and strollers. The expiration date decal is a white sticker and located on the backside of the seat. You can contact Chicco here.
how-long-are-car-seats-good-for-Chico

Cosco

  • Cosco infant car seats – six years. Based out of Columbus, Indiana, Cosco was started 70 years ago. Car seats and boosters are just a few of the many products they offer. Also, they like to imprint their expiration dates rather than use a sticker. Possibly to thwart the removal and resale on a used market. The imprint should be on the bottom of the seat. Although, some models do have a white sticker on the back, instead of an imprint. You can contact Cosco here.
how-long-are-car-seats-good-for-Cosco

Diono

  • Diono infant car seats – eight years. A little bit longer thanks to the implementation of a car seat harness. Diono hails from Seattle, Washington and has been in business for nearly two decades. Similar to others, the white sticker is found on the bottom or back of the car seat. You can contact Diono here.
how-long-are-car-seats-good-for-Diono
Image: Simply Real Moms

Common Car Seats continued…

Evenflo

  • Evenflo infant car seats – six years. One of the most common brands, Evenflo is very popular. Still, you should know that the last Product Award listed on their website dates back to 2013. The Evenflo Symphony has an eight-year expiration. And the SafeMax lists a ten-year expiration. Depending on the model, Evenflo places a white expiration sticker on the back or bottom of their car seats. You can contact Evenflo here.
how-long-are-car-seats-good-for-EvenFlo

Graco

how-long-are-car-seats-good-for-Graco

Recaro

how-long-are-car-seats-good-for-Recaro

Safety 1st

Safety-1st

And the Winner is?

Our Top Choice for car seats goes to Safety 1st for innovation and continuous community support. Their support through Charity 1st has funded many different foundations and organizations around the world.

safety first
Safety 1st earns our TOP RECOMMENDATION for the immense community involvement!

How many years are car seats good for?

CarSafety.org lists several reasons that you should limit the time you use a car seat to six years.

  • plastic shell degradation
  • loss or breakage of miscellaneous parts
  • newer regulations may force older models into expiration
  • recalls

The exception to this would be any car seat that has a steel frame reinforcement. Car seats with steel frames can typically last up to ten years.

Each manufacturer determines what expiration limit they will recommend on their models.

What should I do when my car seat expires?

If your current car seat expires, there’s no need to panic. Here is what you need to ask yourself:

  • Has your child grown out of the car seat you were using? This is based on the child’s current height and/or weight. Most car seats have a weight limit restriction. Consult your Owner’s Manual for the car seat you are using to be sure your child is in the appropriate seat.
  • If not, you need to find a replacement car seat until your child reaches the proper requirements to graduate out of a safety car seat.

How do I discard my expired car seat?

If you no longer need your current, used car seat you can follow these guidelines:

  • Take off the seat cover.
  • Remove any additional external items (foam insert, padding, etc).
  • Cut the safety belt and pull all straps out of the car seat for discard.
  • Use a black marker to write on the car seat shell “DO NOT USE.”
  • Remove any metal parts, if possible.
  • Place it into a black garbage bag so it will not be visible.
  • Take it to your local recycling plant for proper disposal.

Car seat recycle programs

A car safety seat is one of the most important things you will buy for your child. Make sure to focus on your specific needs. Here is a partial list of the many options out there:

  • how easy is it to install
  • how well does the car seat fit in your car/truck/van
  • safety features like leveling indicators and extra pads
  • convertibility so your car seat can change as your child grows
  • ease of disassembly for washing (you’ll be washing a lot!)

There are literally hundreds of seats on the market to choose from. More importantly, you should avoid using an expired or used car seat.

In this article, we are going to review car seat expiration with you. By the end, you will know how long they are good for and when you should replace your current car seat.

Did you know?

good-old-days

Child protective car seats were not originally designed to protect children. Instead, they were created to keep the driver safe from a wondering toddler while driving.

Likewise, car seats also helped to elevate the children so that parents could keep an eye on them in the backseat.

Around 1962, inventors began to consider using car seats as a safety device. Subsequently, it was 1968 before car manufacturers got directly involved.

Regulations began in 1971 when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration introduced the first federal standards for car seats.

Now it is a federal law that we all put our children in car seats when we drive anywhere.

Top Car Seat Expiration FAQs

How do you know how long a car seat is good for?

If you can’t find an expiration imprint of sticker anywhere on the seat, check the owner’s manual. If all else fails, call the vendor. We listed contact information for the common brands in the article above.

What is the lifespan of a child’s car seat?

The standard answer is that most seats expire six years from the date of manufacture. Remember, that means from when it was originally made at the factory, not when you bought it. Some last up to ten years if they have a steel frame inside.

Do strollers and car seats expire?

Strollers do not have an expiration date like a car seat does now.

Does Walmart take expired car seats?

Many retail stores hold special events where they accept expired car seats. Walmart and Target are two of the most popular locations. As a result, Walmart collected more than one million car seats during its campaign in September of 2019. With a partnership through TerraCycle, they completed the nation’s largest car seat recycling event at nearly 4,000 Walmart locations across the USA.

What makes a car seat expire?

There are several factors that ultimately retire a car seat. Plastic parts break, new regulations make them unusable, metal parts start rusting, and new safety features are invented. As a result, they just become worn out and therefore no longer safe to use.

What can you do with expired car seats?

Turn them in for recycling. Some companies, like Walmart, give trade-in allowances towards future purchases. In September of 2019, Walmart gave a $30 gift card to anyone who turned in an expired car seat.

Can you sell an expired car seat?

Ironically, there is no law stopping you from selling a used or expired car seat (except California). Consequently, the advice out there says to not use an expired car seat.

Is it OK to buy a used car seat?

Ultimately, when in doubt, don’t borrow, buy, or sell a used car seat – it’s just not worth the risk. Nevertheless, many used car seats are still within their expiry period. Look around a new car seat sales first and see if you can’t find a reasonable deal on a new one.

Is it OK for my baby to sleep in a car seat?

No, it is safer to sleep in an environment designed for safe sleeping. Cribs and bassinets are safer. And you should never leave your baby alone in a car seat. Sleeping in a car seat can lead to accidental asphyxia.