When Do Car Seats Expire?

Do car seats expire?

As shocking as this might sounds, the answer is yes, car seats do expire. Just like that bottle of milk in your refrigerator that has lived through several power outages will go sour, car seats also have expiry dates. Not that it is mandated by the United States government, but manufacturers put it upon themselves to acknowledge that the car seats work best within a time span of six to ten years from the manufacturing date.

According to Chad Sparling, director of engineering at Recaro Child Safety, simple booster car seats will last approximately a decade while much more complex designs made for babies and infants will last for a shorter period. These expiration dates are primarily put in place not to increase the manufacturer's sales but to ensure that children have maximum protection during a crash.

Why do car seats expire?

Like earlier said, it can be quite unsettling as a parent to start thinking about the logic of the fact that car seats expire. That six years from the manufacturing date, car seats need be replaced for more efficiency. Keeping track of time to ensure that they don't get outdated can be quite a task. Here are some factors to consider after which the logic of car seat expiry settles in.

I. Recalls

Without your knowledge, older makes of car seats may have been part of a recall. Manufacturers may want to correct a previous make of car seats. You may also not know where to get the information; this is reason enough for any parent to avoid over using car seats.

II. Material Wear Down

Things wear and tear. Car seats are not meant to last a lifetime. As long as the car seats are in regular day to day as it is bound to develop fractures along the hairline. This may cause it to shatter in a car crash. Prolonged use causes belts acquire elasticity. Car seats are made of plastic which is affected by extreme temperatures be it hot or cold, daily exposure to heat or cold will make the plastic less susceptible to pressure. Such changes may not be visible to the naked eye, but that does not mean that they were not there. Crash test videos provide chilling examples of how the car seats can fail.

III. Replacement Parts

The world is evolving rapidly. Trends in manufacturing are equally changing. New and more efficient tools and part are being developed to replace an older one. This is basically because no manufacturing company wants to keep inventories of over old parts. It would, therefore, be difficult for you as a parent to find replacement parts past the expiry date. This gives you more reason to change with the trends.

IV. Model is only safety tested for a typical life span

Manufacturers do not test seats after a period. They, therefore, cannot attest to how older seats would be performed in the occurrence of an accident.

V. Technology improves and standards change

Some of us are very good at taking care of things and hence a car seat passed down from a relative or friend may appear to be in good working condition. However, with the current technological changes, old car seats may not be putting to use newer safety standards and life-saving technologies. For example, car seats used before the year 2002 were not fitted with the Lower Anchor and Tethers for Children (LATCH) which are common in almost all car seats used to day. Expiry dates ensure that seats used are current and up to date.

Where can you find the expiration date?

The time of expiration is mostly stamped on the manufacturer label located on the sides and base of the car seat. Some labels may show the date of manufacture which would translate to expiration date being six years after.

The clock to expiry date starts ticking after manufacturing and not purchase. You should, therefore, be on the lookout for newest model to prolong the life span it will serve you and your family. The other thing that should not confuse you as a parent is the cost. You should not be fooled into thinking an expensive car seat will serve you longer.

In conclusion, it is your duty as a parent to ensure that your child is safe in your car. Be sure to register your car seat and make sure to update the manufacturer with your information contacts. These assure you that you will get the updates of recalls and any other safety information.

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