Baby being buckled into car seat

Car Seat Safety: Expiration Dates

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Last Updated 5/20/2021.

It’s not a myth, an urban legend or a tale experienced parents share with newbies during a coffee date like the boogeyman. The car seat you have sitting in your backseat will expire. You might be asking yourself – why would a car seat expire? It’s not a carton of milk, it shouldn’t go bad. While your car seat might not get moldy or go sour, it’s only good and safe to use up until a certain point. 

Is My Older Car Seat Safe to Use?

Unless the seat has been in a crash or had a recall, it all comes down to whether the seat is expired. Car seats are safety tested for the expected lifespan of the seat – once that date has passed, there’s no guarantee the seat will function as originally intended. Once you’ve celebrated your seat’s last birthday, it’s time to thank it for its service and upgrade to a new car seat. 

Why Do Car Seats Expire?

Repeated Use: Your little one is presumably in and out of their car seat every day, sometimes multiple times a day. Over time, the materials can degrade due to heat, cold, sun, or general wear and tear, making the seat possibly unsafe to use.  

Improved Technology: Technology is always advancing, and the standards to which we test our seats are always changing. A seat made 15 years ago was made and tested with the knowledge of the time – we are always learning more and more about how to better protect your children as we carry them through the world. 

Discontinued: Once a product is discontinued, it becomes increasingly difficult to find replacement parts. Most companies stop manufacturing spare parts when the seat itself is retired.  

Invisible Damage: Over the course of your car seat’s life, it can sustain damage invisible to the naked eye. Internal mechanisms can break, microfractures can form in the plastic, pieces can fall off inside – these are things you can’t see but impact the integrity of the seat.  

When Does My Car Seat Expire?

Car seat expiration dates vary by brand and by product. Finding your seat’s expiration date is easy enough – on most car seats, it can be found either on a sticker on the seat itself or in the manual. Maxi-Cosi products have a sticker on the back of the seat with the manufacture date, and the lifespan is in the manual. 

When Do Maxi-Cosi Car Seats Expire?

What Should I Do With My Expired Car Seat?

Once your car seat has reached retirement, it’s time to dispose of it. If you’re recycling your car seat yourself, make sure it can’t be used before putting it in the bin. Remove the fabric from the plastic shell, cut the straps, and detach as many parts as possible. You don’t want someone to take the seat from the recycling and put another child at risk by using the expired seat. If you need a little help with disposal, check your area for local car seat recycling programs. Some stores have trade-in programs a few times a year, offering a discount on a new seat when you turn in an old one to be recycled.  

If it’s time for you to say goodbye to your well-loved car seat, don’t worry! Just like there are plenty of other fish in the sea, there are plenty of other great car seats out there. Check out our choosing a car seat guide to help you find the next best seat for your growing tot.