Why Do Car Seats Expire? – Expert Answers


Welcome to the Definitive Answer on Why Do Car Seats Expire!

Expiry dates are often associated with canned food and milk cartoons, so it sounds a bit silly when you hear of a car seat’s expiration date.


You, don’t have to worry. The car seat won’t disintegrate at midnight like Cinderella’s outfit did.

It will actually look pretty much the same, but you should still look for a replacement or stop using it.

As a mom of 3 I have my fair share of experience with expired car seats. So scroll below and let me show you why car seats expire and what to do when yours does.

Tell me already!



Why Do Car Seats Expire


Why Do Car Seats Have Expiration Dates?

No, car seats don’t have expiration dates because of bacteria overgrowth or a change of taste. These fellows’ expiry dates rather have to do with the manufacturer’s safety tests and other details.


New Car Seat Safety Standards

car seat safety standards

Safety standards change every day, and not just those related to car seats.

In the past, kid-proof houses weren’t in fashion, and mothers had no problems giving solid foods to babies when it was too early for that.

Now, safety standards evolve every day, and new mothers are more careful with handling their babies to match today’s standards.

The same goes for car seats.

Because there are new safety standards every day, your old car seat probably doesn’t fulfill them anymore. So once it passes its expiry date, you should look for a new one with all the important updates.


Car Seat Manufacturer’s Testing Period

No car seat manufacturer will test car seats for more than ten years, and that’s for simple reasons.

For one, car seats are only used until the baby grows to be a toddler, and then they’re rendered useless. So, most manufacturers will only do safety testing for a limited number of years, and this number often dictates the expiry date.

In other words, your car seat may simply have an expiration date because that’s how far the manufacturers tested it. It may still be usable, but it’s your responsibility to keep using it because it wasn’t tested for that long.


Daily Wear and Tear


Although car seats are made of durable plastics, they still get affected by daily wear and tear. For example, if you always leave your seat in the car, it’ll be exposed to hot temperatures and sun rays. Those will cause the plastic to go brittle after a while.

And it’s not just the plastic. Car seats have fabric, cushioning, straps, and other parts that wear out faster than the chassis.

Your car seat expiry date is the maximum usage period before all these materials start wearing out beyond safe.

Even if your car seat looks fine to you, it likely won’t pass a safety test, so it’s better to replace it or stop using it.


Irreversible Damage


Though damage doesn’t have much to do with the seat’s expiry date, it’s one of the reasons you should stop using the car seat after a while.

If the seat has been in an accident, it may have been exposed to irreversible damage. In this case, you can’t use it because it’s not safe enough to swallow impact or protect the baby.

That’s why, if you’re buying a used car seat, it’s essential to make sure that it hasn’t been in an accident before. Or, at least make sure its essential parts aren’t damaged.


What Is the Expected Lifespan of Car Seats?

The expiry period differs from brand to brand, but it’s mostly between 6–10 years. Most people dispose of their car seats before the 10-year period ends, and the minimum rarely goes below six years.

However, you should always check the expiry date of your seat of choice to guarantee your baby’s safety.


How to Find Your Car Seat’s Expiry Date

All car seats have a label somewhere with the expiry date written on it. It’s often on the seat’s bottom, but you can also check the sides while you’re at it. For example, Chicco usually has the expiry date on the base, while Graco has the date on the seat’s bottom.

Meanwhile, Britax doesn’t have expiry date labels. Instead, the manufacturers will provide the manufacturing date, and the owner’s manual will have the estimated expiry period from that date.

If you’re buying a used car seat, make sure to ask the initial owner about the label or look for it yourself. And note that the car seat will have a shorter lifespan because it is used.


Is It Illegal to Use an Expired Car Seat?

Most people think it’s illegal to use an expired car seat, but it’s actually not. In fact, manufacturers aren’t legally required to provide an expiry date. It’s merely a safety practice, but you won’t get a penalty for using an expired car seat.

However, that doesn’t mean you should use it. It’s still better to throw it out to ensure your baby’s safety. Manufacturers put that expiry date on their seats because it’s the expected lifespan of the materials before they start breaking apart.


What to Do When Your Car Seat Is Expired

When your car seat is expired, you first have to dispose of it, and then you can look for a replacement or get a new one.

However, you need to take care while disposing of it to prevent anyone from reusing it, so throwing it in a dumpster won’t do it. Instead, it’s better to slice the seat itself or disassemble it, throwing its parts in different places.

If the seat can’t be disassembled, make sure to cut the straps and the seat’s fabric. You can also leave a note or write on the seat’s plastic that it’s expired, but make sure it’s easily readable.

As a last resort, you can look for seat recycling services in case you don’t want your seat to get thrown out. You’ll likely find similar services at big retail stores.


When do Graco car seats expire?

There’s a 10 year expiration date for  belt-positioning boosters and for steel-reinforced belt path car seats and 7 years for plastic-reinforced belt path car seats. Although each type of car seat has a different expiration date.

What’s the Joie car seat expiry date

The Joie car seat expiry date depends on the particular seat for example harnessed seats expire within 5 – 7 years. And booster seats around 7 – 10 years

What’s the Britax car seat expiration date?

The Britax car seat expiration date depends on the particular car seat for example infant seats 6 years, convertibles 7 years and harness booster 9 years.

What’s the Safety first car seat expiration date?

The Safety First car seat expiration date depends on the particular car seat it can be in the range of 6 to 10 years.

What’s the Maxi Cosi car seat expiration?

The Maxi Cosi car seat expiration date depends on the particular car seat it can be in the range of 8 to 12 years.


Conclusions on Why do car seats expire?

They expire because their materials wear out, their safety standards get outdated, and their tested lifespan ends. They’re no longer safe for your baby when they’re expired, so it’s better to find a replacement. However, the expiry date isn’t legally required; it’s only a safety practice.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

Is it OK to use expired car seat?

No it’s not OK to use an expired car seat because it might not offer the best protection for your child.

Do hospitals check car seat expiration dates?

Yes in most cases before your child is allowed to leave you have to bring in the car seat and a nurse checks if it’s up to date.

Is it illegal to use an expired car seat?

Currently there’s no law prohibiting the use of an expired car seat. However I can’t stress enough that it’s not safe. Even if it’s not illegal to use one you’re gambling with your child health and life.

Do backless booster seats expire?

Yes even backless booster seats expire typically after 10 years or so depending on the brand.

Do car seat bases expire?

Yes even car seat bases expire. The same rules apply to car seat bases as with any brand new car seat. Typically when a car seat expires so does the base as well.  When you have an expired seat for car seat safety slash the latch system so not even with replacement parts can be fixed or they could be dangerous. You can check out my entire article about base expiring right here: Does a Car Seat Base Expire?

How long car seats good for?

Most car seats have an expiration date set by car seat manufacturers. They are typically good for 6 to 10 years from manufacture date.

How long is Britax car seat good for?

Britax is good for infant seats 6 years, convertibles 7 years and harness booster 9 years.

Why can’t you use an expired car seat?

You can’t and shouldn’t use an expired car seat because it might not give your child the required safety. Plus after 6-10 years of wear and tear the material gets fatigued all in all it’s not safe.

When do infant car seats expire?

Infant car seats expire depending on brand and it can be anywhere from 3 to 6 years.

When do britax car seats expire?

Britax car seats expire differently for each category: infant seats 6 years, convertibles 7 years and harness booster 9 years.

When do graco car seats expire?

Graco car seat expire in 10 years for  belt-positioning boosters and for steel-reinforced belt path car seats and 7 years for plastic-reinforced belt path car seats.

How long does a car seat last?

A car seat typically lasts from 6 year to 10 depending on the brand and the type of car seat. Reference answer to question how long does car seats last?

Last Updated on October 12, 2023 by Brian Beasley

Written by Linda Reid

Hey there, I'm Linda, a mom of three cool kids. I've tried so many car seats, you could call me a "Car Seat Detective." Searching for the perfect car seat can feel like finding a needle in a haystack, but don't worry! I've committed to researching and reviewing car seats that are super safe, cozy, and great for growing kids. Together, we'll find the perfect car seat that keeps your child safe and cozy, and makes you feel like a super-parent!