Nov 22, 2010

Car Seats Have an Expiration Date

It occurred to me recently that our oldest car seat, a Britax Marathon, is over five years old now. And I vaguely knew that car seats have an expiration date. So I finally went looking for more information. On the side of the seat itself, I found a sticker that had the manufacture date (but no expiration date). And on the Britax web site, I found the info I was looking for in their FAQ:
The service life for Britax infant car seats (including the base), convertible car seats, youth seats (such as the Britax Regent), and belt-positioning booster seats is 6 years from date of manufacture. The Britax Frontier Harness-2-Booster seat has a service life of 9 years. To prevent injury due to deterioration or hidden damage, do not use child restraints or booster seats older than their service life or if it has been in a moderate or severe crash. You can find the date of manufacture on the child restraint/booster seat serial label.
So I have about six more months before I have to get a new car seat. Just in case I forget, I've created an entry in Google Calendar with a couple of reminder emails to go out before the seat expires.

We also have two Graco Nautilus seats, and here's the info I found in the Graco FAQ:
Car seats have a suggested useful life that that is identified on the car seat as follows: "Do Not Use After December 20xx". With changes in regulation, changes in vehicles, new technology and other factors including general wear and tear of a car seat, we recommend that a car seat be replaced on or before reaching the "Do Not Use After" date.
I haven't checked the seats since they're less than two years old, so I don't know exactly where the sticker is, but I expect to find it on the side.

I would think that you could find similar information for any brand of car seat on the manufacturer's web site, but if you can't, you could check your owner's manual or give their customer service center a call.

The expiration date is something to think about, especially if you expect to keep a seat for a long time. I think weight and height-wise, we could probably use the Marathon for another year. And I bought the Nautilus with the expectation that we would not have to replace it. So, hopefully it won't expire for at least another four or five years.


Lowbudget said...

Do you or any of your readers know if Car Seats can be recycled or taken to a place to be recycled? I will have two booster seats soon and don't want to just throw them away in the landfill.

Chief Family Officer said...

@Lowbudget - I don't know of any programs, but I would contact your local city government to see if they run a recycling program periodically during the year. Let us know if you find out anything!

Courtney said...

Good reminder! On a related note, you may know that car seats have height and weight limits but did you know that cars have weight limits for LATCH? The attachment points in my friend's Saturn have a lower limit than her car seat, so she will have to stop using those attachment points (can still attach it the old-fashioned way, with the seat belt) before her kid outgrows the seat.

Chief Family Officer said...

@Courtney - Yes, good point! I think I mentioned last year about the trouble I had finding out what the LATCH weight limit for our Nissan Altimas are (turns out to be 100 pounds). It's definitely something to be aware of!