Your Car Seat Safety Questions Answered
From the car seat expiration dates to NHTSA guidelines, we answer your FAQs to keeping your baby safe on the go
Car seats keep your child safe, right? Not always. Sometimes car seats can fail if not taken care of or disposed of properly when they have experienced too much wear, reached their expiration date, or been involved in an accident. With each of these factors, a car seat’s ability to protect your child drops significantly.
Sarah Tilton, the Child Passenger Safety Advocate for BRITAX Child Safety Inc., helped us answer the most important questions you need to know about keeping your child safe in her car seat.
How long can I use my child’s car seat?
Every car seat is different, so always read the user guide to find out the seat’s expiration date and other important information. Most car seats last between five to nine years after they were manufactured (not necessarily after they were bought); that’s why it is important to check the user guide. Most infant car seats are the same.
You can also find the expiration date molded in the car seat or printed on the shell, along with labels listing contact information and other necessary safety information.
Why do car seats expire?
Safety standards change over time as safer technology is developed. Expiration dates not only alert you to the possibility that your car seat may be worn out, but they also provide an opportunity for you to buy a new seat that is safer for your child.
What makes one car seat last longer than another?
The type of materials used in a car seat effect the expiration date and how the seat will perform in a crash or wear over time. Depending on the type, the design, the kind of installation, and the materials used to make the car seat all affect how long the seat will last and how safe it is in a crash.
Is it ever okay for me to borrow a car seat or buy one used?
Borrowing or buying a second-hand car seat is not recommended unless you can, without a doubt, answer these four crucial questions:
- Has this car seat ever been in a crash?
- Are all the parts and pieces still attached to the car seat?
- Are all the labels for proper use still affixed to the car seat?
- Has this car seat ever been recalled?
If you cannot find the answer to these questions, or if the seat should fail in any of these areas, do not use or buy the seat.