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Car Seat Expiration Dates: What They Are and Why They Matter

Have you ever opened up that jug of milk, took a whiff, and immediately knew it was bad? Yeah, we’ve all been there. With some things it is easy to tell when an item has gone bad or expired, but with others, many are left wondering why?

There are many reasons why car seats have expiration dates, and we will get into a couple of them in a minute. But the most important reason to keep in mind is that car seats expire to keep children safe!

In the fast paced and ever evolving world we live in, research and technology are always expanding. And with that so improves the safety of the cars we drive and the car seats our children ride in. Regulations set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) heavily influence the changes we’ve seen in car seats since the first ones were created in 1962. Laws and regulations change, and what once was considered the ‘greatest thing since sliced bread’ is now obsolete and rendered unsafe.

Another reason car seats have “use by” dates is because of the materials used to make them. When materials are exposed to elements over a long period of time, it is only natural that they are going to break down and weaken. Car seat expiration dates vary by manufacturer, ranging from 6 to 10 years. The expiration date can be located on your car seat, either printed on a sticker or stamped into the seat’s shell. Though it’s tempting to continue using a seat past it’s expiration date because on the outside it still looks to have years left, the best thing to do is retire it and move on to something that you know for certain will protect your most precious cargo.

What to do with an expired car seat?

  1. Find out if any services in your area offer a recycling program for car seats. If your seat is a Clek, please visit our recycling program to learn how to recycle your seat.
  2. If the car seat will be thrown in the trash, be sure to do the following to the seat to ensure that it is not used by someone else.
    • Using scissors, cut the harness webbing and top tether off of the seat.
    • Remove the cover, if possible, and write all over the seat with a marker “EXPIRED, DO NOT USE”.
  3. Help keep expired car seats off the streets and you’re one step closer to ensuring every ride is a safe on for all kids.