What To Do With Expired Car Seats

What To Do With Expired Car Seats

Car seats are a vital piece of equipment for safely transporting infants and small children in vehicles. But car seats actually have expiration dates and at some point need to be replaced. Knowing when your car seat expires,

how to properly dispose of it, and your options for getting a new seat are all important for keeping your child protected. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about managing expired car seats.

Why Expired Car Seats

All car seats have expiration dates ranging from 6 to 10 years after the date of manufacture. The expiration date is always printed somewhere on the seat, usually on a sticker on the back or underside.

There are a few reasons car seat manufacturers put expiration dates on their products:

  • Materials break down – Plastics and fabrics wear out over time with regular use and exposure to sunlight and temperature fluctuations.
  • Regulations change – As safety testing and regulations evolve, older model seats may not meet current standards. Newer seats have the latest safety features.
  • Technology improves – Car seat technology, designs and safety features are constantly improving for better protection.
  • Recalls – Once a seat expires, the manufacturer will no longer issue safety recall repairs or replacements for it.

While a seat may seem in good condition past its expiry date, it’s impossible to gauge the integrity of materials and components from looks alone. You should always go by the manufacturer’s expiration date when deciding if it’s time to retire a car seat.

Why Car Seats Expire
Why Expired Car Seats

Locating the Expiration Date

Checking your car seat for its expiration date is simple. It is always stamped or printed on the seat in a few possible locations:

  • Back of the seat – Lift the cover flap near the bottom back and look for a sticker or engraving with the model number and expiry.
  • Underside – Tilt the seat up and look underneath for a sticker with the key details.
  • Instruction manual – The manual often lists the manufacture date and useful life period.
  • Seat body – Engravings with the expiration may be molded directly into the plastic on the side.

If you are unable to find the manufacture or expiration date on your seat, you can call the manufacturer for assistance. Have the model number ready. Never use a seat with an unknown expiration date.

Be sure to periodically check the seat again as your child grows to confirm it is always within the expiration window before use.

Disposing of an Expired Car Seat

Once a car seat has reached its expiration date, it needs to be retired and replaced. But before selecting a new one, you’ll need to properly dispose of the old expired seat. Here are a few options:

If your expired seat is still within acceptable wear limits and has never been in a crash, consider donating it to charity. Some organizations refurbish and re-distribute gently used seats to families in need. Contact local groups to find options in your area.

Recycle Components

Most municipal recycling centers do not accept whole car seats. But you may be able to recycle select disassembled parts:

  • Plastics – Detach and recycle plastic pieces if marked with recycling codes 2,4,5.
  • Metal – Recycle metal elements like buckles, adjusters and recline mechanisms.
  • Fabric – Cut off cover fabric and padding to recycle if materials are natural like cotton, wool.
  • Foam – Remove cut foam and check if your area recycles polyurethane foam.
Recycle Components

Bring Parts to Special Facilities

In some areas, you can bring car seat parts to specialty recycling locations that will properly dispose of and separate the materials. Search for car seat recycling centers in your state.

Disassemble Completely

Taking the time to fully disassemble as much of your expired seat as possible will make it easier to recycle components and reduce waste.

Use Trash Pickup

If no recycling options are available, place your expired seat at the curb for trash pickup. You may need to break down larger pieces so it fits in your bin.

Replace the Expired Seat

Consult your car seat manual for recommendations on a suitable successor model. Instructions for continued use are specific to that brand. To maintain convenience, consider replacing with a similar style – such as an infant seat with a new infant seat.

Think ahead to upcoming transitions like switching from rear-facing to forward-facing seats. Pick an adaptable model that converts between configurations. Compare features between newer model options and select advanced safety additions like side impact protection.

Try out seats in the car before buying to ensure good fit and proper installation. If possible, get your child to test the fit too. For older children, let them try different seat styles for comfort but don’t compromise on safety.

Ensure any new seat meets all current safety standards and has not been recalled. Register the new seat with the manufacturer using the card or online form to be notified of any future recalls or issues.

Saving on Replacement Costs

Time expirations around sales – Watch for discounts on seats around holidays, at the end of model years, and during company sales events. Sign up for brand emails to get notifications. Buy bundled choices – Purchasing an infant seat and stroller together is often cheaper than buying individually.

Consider lightly used – Ask friends or shop resale sites for quality used versions, provided seats have not expired or been in accidents. Use buyback programs – Some car seat companies offer trade-ins or buybacks of old expired car seats put towards new models.

Use incentives – Health insurance, hospital rewards programs and promotions through safety groups often provide car seat coupons or rebates. Take advantage of tax-free weekends – Some states offer tax holiday weekends for car seat purchases, saving on sales tax.

Saving on Replacement Costs

The Expiration Date Exception

There is one scenario where a seat may safely be used past the expiration date. According to the NHTSA, if you are unable to afford a replacement upon expiration, it is acceptable to continue using the seat temporarily until a new seat can be obtained.

However, it should only be used if it is:

  • The correct seat for your child’s age, height and weight
  • Not cracked or damaged
  • Securely installed
  • Never been in a crash

As soon as possible, start planning for a replacement seat within your budget so a properly up-to-date seat is used. Never use an expired seat that is damaged or ill-fitting.

Tracking Your Seat’s History

To determine if your seat qualifies for the expiration date extension exception, you’ll need to track some key facts about its history:

Has it ever been in a crash? If yes, it cannot be used past the expiration date. Any seat in a collision should be immediately retired.

What is the manufacture date? This provides a starting point for when the useful life began counting down.

Have there been any recalls or issues? Any repaired defects could impact lifespan.

What are the height and weight limits? Ensure your child still falls within advised limits for proper protection.

Does it have any visible cracks or damage? Cracked plastic or torn fabric means it should be immediately retired, regardless of expiration.

How was it stored? UV and heat damage shortens plastic lifespan if a seat was often left in a hot car.

How frequently was it used? Infrequently used seats may have more life left than a heavily used seat.

Keeping this information along with your car seat manual and any receipts in a folder can help you monitor seat history for safety.

Preventing Premature Expiration

Store seats inside – Keeping it indoors when not in use avoids sun and weather damage to materials. Clean regularly – Follow manufacturer guidelines to properly clean fabric and plastic. Inspect often – Frequently check components for damage – cracking, fraying, sticking.

Protect from heat – Avoid leaving seats in hot cars to prevent heat deterioration. Install tightly – Correct installation keeps moving parts and structure intact. Use carefully – Handle gently, don’t overload storage pockets, etc. to prevent undue wear.

Remain accident-free – Collisions significantly reduce a seat’s lifespan, so drive safely. By properly maintaining your seat, handling carefully, and avoiding crashes you can help it remain useable for its maximum approved lifespan.

Understanding Car Seat Expiration

Checking expiration dates, planning timely disposal and replacement, tracking seat history, and general care are all key in the responsible use of car seats. While expiration may seem inconvenient, it is a critical component in the engineering safety of these life-saving products.

By understanding how and why seats expire, you can ensure your child is always travelling protected in an up-to-date, secure seat. With some foresight and budgeting, you can smoothly transition expired seats to new models that incorporate the latest innovations in car seat safety technology

safety features to look for when shopping for a new car seat

Five-point harness – This secures the child’s shoulders, hips, and crotch. Adjustable for a snug fit. LATCH system – Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children system makes installation easier and more secure.

Side-impact protection – Extra cushioning and design elements help protect in side crashes. Energy absorbing foam – Foam liner absorbs and distributes crash forces away from child. Higher rear-facing limits – Extended rear-facing use to at least 2 years old is safest, so pick seats with higher limits.

Easy adjustability – Ensure the seat will properly fit your child as they grow with adjustable harness heights and crotch buckles. Current safety standards – Newest seats undergo rigorous testing. Look for labels showing they meet all federal motor vehicle safety standards.

Manufacturer reputation – Reputable brands generally offer better construction, durability and safety testing. Crash performance – Check consumer testing and ratings for how seats perform in crashes.


Can I reuse car seat for second baby?

You can reuse a car seat for a second child if it meets all safety criteria: it’s within the expiration date, has no significant wear/damage, has not been in an accident, still meets size limits for the child, and is installed correctly. Check with the manufacturer about reuse. Thoroughly clean and disinfect the seat first.

What can I do with expired car seats in Canada?

In Canada, try donating usable expired seats to organizations like new parent support programs. Parts like fabric, foam and plastic may be recyclable – check with your city. If no recycling options exist, disassemble the seat as much as possible and dispose of at a waste facility.

Where can I recycle expired car seats in BC?

In BC, the Recycling Council of BC partners with some automotive businesses to take back expired car seats components. Seats must be dismantled first. Other recyclers like AESRD Recycling also accept separated car seat parts. Check eligibility before dropping off materials.

What can I do with old car seats in Australia?

In Australia, contact your local council first, as some offer car seat recycling days or pickups. Otherwise, remove covers and padding for fabric recycling, and check if plastic components can go in plastics recycling. If no recycling is available, dismantle seats and dispose of parts in regular waste collections.


Expired Car seats are vital for safely transporting little ones, but they don’t last forever. All expired car seats expire after 6-10 years due to wear on materials and changing regulations. It’s critical to check manufacture dates and replace any expired seats. Before replacing,

properly dispose of the old seat if possible by donating, recycling components like fabric and plastic, or disassembling and trashing as a last resort. When shopping for a new seat, look for updated safety features and an easy transition in size and fit

from the old model. With some planning, you can smoothly swap out expired seats for safer, up-to-date models that protect your child using the latest innovations and technologies.

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