How Long Are Car Seats Good For? 4 Clear Guidelines You Should Know

Baby Registry Must Haves

Car safety seats (CSS) assure safety and security for our kids. But how long are car seats good for? 

Do car seats expire? What should you know about new vs. used car seats? What happens to car seats after an accident? And what do we do with expired car seats?

In this article, we’ll look at car seat expiration dates to inform you about car seat safety. We’ll also help you find the expiration date for your specific car seat, as the exact location may vary among manufacturers and models.

How long are car seats good for?

Car seat manufacturers carry out rigorous crash testing on their products to ensure the highest safety standards are met and exceeded. Still, even when manufacturers exceed safety standards and requirements, car seats don’t last forever.

Car seats, especially convertible car seats (with several modes of use suitable for all stages of your child’s development and car safety needs), can last up to six to ten years

These are made from durable materials, reinforced frames, and other long-lasting protective design features.

Ten years is the length of use claimed to be safe by some car seat manufacturers, but that does not mean that every car seat is suitable for ten years. You must check the expiration on your specific model to know for sure how long that car seat is good for. 

In addition, you may be using a separate car seat base, in which case, the base will have its expiration date.

how long are car seats good for

Why do car seats expire?

It may seem strange that a car seat has an expiration date. We usually think of expiration dates when it comes to food, but safety products also expire. 

Repeated use leads to natural wear and tear that will reduce the integrity and safety standard of the product, and in cases of impact, the level of protection for next time is reduced. 

The same applies to helmets. A helmet involved in a crash is not safe again because even low impact causes the protective lining to decompress. 

Fire extinguishers have a long shelf life but must be replaced eventually to adhere to safety standards and if they have been used.

Other than the date specified by the manufacturer, several factors lead to car seat expiration. These include:

1. Gradual wear and tear

If you drive a lot and your child is with you often, the car seat may be one of your most frequently used child safety equipment. That means each time you do a school run, go to the supermarket, or take your little one to the park, you buckle and unbuckle several times throughout the day. 

Over the years, this constant use may cause some wear and tear, which is true for all car seats – from infant car seats to highback boosters.

If you have a convertible car seat that transitions from an infant seat to a booster seat, you’ll find yourself adjusting the seating for different modes of use as your child grows. 

You may also find yourself removing pads and seat covers for cleaning up inevitable messes, all of which contribute further to the wear and tear of the product.

Another contributing factor to wear and tear is temperature. If you live in a region with extremely high temperatures, the sun may cause heat damage through tiny cracks in the car seat’s plastic.

2. Updated regulations

Multiple U.S and Global authorities set car seat safety standards, and manufacturers adhere to ensure that products on the market meet and exceed those standards. 

Still, standards and regulations may change over time, especially as new advancements in technology offer even greater degrees of support and safety. 

So, as new materials, features, and safety technologies are introduced to car seats, older models become quicker to expire.

3. Safe-use limits

All types of car seats and manufacturers – including Graco, Chicco, and Britax, test their car seats based on laws and regulations around child car seat safety guidelines. That means they use crash models within the safety guidelines’ weight, height, and developmental limits when testing for protection and durability. 

For example, young children stop using an infant car seat when they reach the maximum height or weight limit – typically 30 to 32 inches or 30 to 35 pounds. 

The car seat has expired for a child over this height or weight.

4. Product recall

Some products get recalled when the manufacturers find a flaw. 

Consumers are encouraged to register a purchased car seat immediately so the manufacturer can inform them if a recall happens. 

However, many of us forget to register our car seats amid the thousand other things on a parent of a young child’s mind.

how long are car seats good for

Do car seat bases expire?

The recommended length of use (6 to 10 years) applies to all parts of the car seat, including the base. That means if you’re going to replace your car seat with a new one, replace the entire unit. 

It may seem that the base is stronger and, therefore, less susceptible to damage or wear and tear, but not all damages can be seen with the eye.

Where to find the car seat expiration date

We mentioned that the average car seat lasts six to ten years before expiration. If you want a more precise expiration date, you can find it on the car seat. 

The location may vary slightly between manufacturers and models, but you should find it on the bottom of the seat or stamped or printed on the car seat frame. 

If you buy pieces separately, such as a separate base, that will come with its expiration date and should also feature information about its official expiration date.

What happens to car seats after an accident?

Car seats expire even without having been involved in an impact. However, the car seat immediately expires if there has been an impact or a motor vehicle accident. That means it must be replaced with a new car seat before your child rides again. 

Even minor accidents (no car damage, injuries, or detonated airbags) can speed up your car seat’s expiration date. You may notice a difference in the car seat by looking at it, but the inner protective lining may have decompressed, rendering it ineffective for another crash.

What to do with an expired car seat?

Since riding with an expired seat is deemed unsafe, what do you do with your car seat once it expires? It’s best not to pass it on to someone else to use, as there’s no safety guarantee once that expiry date has been reached.

Instead, the safest option is to dismantle the car set part by part and dispose of it at a nearby recycling center. If you can, dismantle it as much as possible and mark the plastic unsafe.

What you should know about car seats and child safety

Child safety is our number one priority when driving. We want to know that our little ones are safe and secure in the car, whether an infant, toddler, or older. 

That’s why all children must use car seats until they reach a safe enough height and weight to travel in the regular passenger seats.

According to the CDC, ‘motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death among children in the United States, but many of these deaths can be prevented.’ 

Car seats are known to ‘reduce serious injuries and death by up to 80%’ when appropriate measures are taken -‘buckling children in age- and size-appropriate car seats, booster seats, and seat belts.’ 

This includes using seats deemed safe per manufacturer guidelines, i.e., before expiration.


A car seat expires immediately after a crash, even if you just bought it. It is simply unsafe to reuse an old car seat that has been involved in an impact. 

When it comes to child car safety, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. 

Minor accidents may not cause much damage to car seats. If there has been no car damage, visible damage to the car seat, detonated airbags, or any other form of impact, the seat may be OK. 

Don’t take our word for it. 

Check with the user manual that came with your model, and contact the manufacturer if you have any further concerns or would like assurance about what to do.

At the end of the day, the car seat is a baby gear essential – a product that you will use almost every day for years. As such, it’s wise to carefully consider the car seat you buy and assess it against your specific needs. 

It’s also smart to keep it as clean and free from overheating as possible, as high temperatures may cause parts of the seat to crack (i.e., from baking in the sun). 

This baby gear essential will keep your little one safe until they’re ready to ride as a regular passenger, so take all the safety measures possible.

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