As you’ve seen lately, car seat expiration dates are quite a buzz. You might be wondering why this issue has come to the forefront suddenly, when expiration dates were a non-issue before.
Let’s set something straight…Everything has an expiration date, whether it is stamped with one or not. Fresh flowers wilt in a matter of days and pictures yellow over the years; even Twinkies only have a shelf life of 25 days! The point being, things change and erode over time.
I remember a time when I was 8 and I learned a hard lesson: don’t leave your MC Hammer Can’t Touch This tape in the car during the month of June. Why? Because it warped and cracked. Think about car seats; they are made completely of plastic and fabric, two things that break down in the UV rays.
Not only can the plastic become so brittle that it shatters and the Styrofoam so degraded that it doesn’t protect upon impact, but best practice and regulations change frequently, meaning that seat may become obsolete.
Wondering what the expiration of your seat it? Expiration and/or manufacture dates can be found on the bottom of the seat or in the owner’s manual. If you can’t find an expiration date, check for a manufacture date. Most car seats have a maximum life of 5 years, though calling the manufacturer is the best way to find out what their schedule is. All-in-one car seats can be a danger here, as children should be in boosters more than 5 years. Keep that in mind the next time you look at convertible car seats.
It’s also important to replace seats after an impact. Seats can become damaged during an accident due to force. California law requires insurance companies to replace seats that have been in accidents, regardless of age of the seat.