The short answer here is yes. Some car seat bases have expiration dates that will clearly spell out when you should stop using them. If there is no clear date, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents stop using their car seat base six years from the manufacture date. It’s important to note that this is not the date you bought the base.
You can find the expiration date at the bottom of the seat. Many car seats come with a base, but if you are buying it separately, be sure to check the date because it will likely be different from the manufacturer’s date of the actual car seat.
Why do car seat bases expire?
Car seat bases have an expiration date for two main reasons:
- Normal wear and tear
- New technology makes them outdated and potentially unsafe to use
Whatever the reason, you don’t want to use an old car seat base and put your child in any potential danger. Keeping up with the latest car seat technology is one of the best ways to keep your baby safe while they’re in the car.
Should I stop using my car seat base even if it’s not expired?
While your car seat base may still be usable by expiration date standards, there are still some reasons you may not want to continue using the base.
Always keep an eye on your baby’s weight toward the base. As they get bigger, their weight can begin to compress the base, compromising their safety. You want to be sure the base is compatible with the child’s weight up to the expiration date.
If your car seat is exposed to constant high temperatures, it can also weaken plastic parts, resulting in excessive wear and tear. This can lead you to want to replace the car seat base before the actual expiration date.
Be Careful with Second Hand Gear
While everyone wants to save a buck, using second-hand baby gear, like car seat bases, can be dangerous. With used bases, the expiration date sticker may be hard to read, or not there at all. In these cases, it’s best to just pass and buy a new one. You can’t put a price on your baby’s safety.
Is it illegal to use an expired car seat?
While there are no laws prohibiting the use of an expired car seat, it is certainly not recommended. Using an expired car seat can increase your child’s risk of getting hurt in an accident.
Do you need to replace a car seat base after an accident even if it is not expired?
Even if your car seat base is not expired, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that all car seat bases and car seats should be replaced after an accident. This is regardless of whether there is any visible damage. There may be underlying cracks or damage from the accident that can pose a hazard,
What do I do with an expired car seat base?
Some retailers offer trade-in events where you can bring your old car seat and base in exchange for a discount coupon on a new one. Look for these offers in your area. If these are not an option where you live, you’ll want to recycle the old car seat base. Never try to sell it second-hand because you’re putting whoever uses it next at risk.
The Bottom Line
Car seat bases do expire. If there is no expiration date on the base itself, the recommendation is to stop using the base six years after the date it was made. Here are some other key takeaways:
- New technology can make car seat bases not as safe as updated models.
- A baby’s weight can compromise the base, leading to cracks and excessive wear and tear that is dangerous. If this happens, you’ll want to stop using it even if it is not expired.
- Never use a car seat base after it was in an accident.
- While it is not illegal to use an expired car seat base, it is certainly not recommended.
- Any expired car seat base can and should be recycled.
Remember, your baby’s safety always comes first. Be sure to check the expiration date or manufacture date on your car seat base so that you’re not putting your baby in any unnecessary danger.