Why Do Car Seat Expiration Dates Exist and How to Find Them?

Car seat expiration dates are always the factor to pay attention to when owning a car because a good car seat will give you great experiences on every trip.

Why Do Car Seat Expiration Dates Exist?

The global car market is now thriving with the introduction of many sleek models. They have a luxurious design, comfort, and application of modern technologies to meet the increasing demands of customers.

With the push of this booming industry, car manufacturers are constantly researching to optimize the performance of every part of a car to give customers the most comfortable feeling. And car seats gradually become one of the most noticeable parts. They are designed with many designs and rich-in materials, from popular to high-end. Even the car seat is an important factor for many people when choosing a car. Because they think, car seats are reasonably designed with good materials that will give them a comfortable feeling.

using an expired car seat
However, like every other part that is subject to the effects of time and the environment, car seats will also come to an end. (Photo: Jonathon Klein)

Many people still mistakenly believe that they only need to invest in a set of car seats once in their life. But the truth is, while they don’t spoil and go rancid like food, car seats don’t last forever. And you must determine the exact time or date of the car seat’s expiration to promptly have a replacement or treatment plan.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends using car seats within 6 years even though they are still within their expiry date. Safe Kids and the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association also agree with the suggestion.

The reasons for manufacturers to add expiration dates for car seats are easy to understand and reasonable. Even if we don’t mention them in today’s article, you can still understand why do car seats expire. Here are 3 main reasons why your car seat expiration dates need to be detected and noticed today.

Casual wear and tear

The most common and dangerous cause of expired car seats is worn and torn from regular uses. Some people assume that their child’s car seat is only used more than once and it’s just a marketing ploy to fool people into buying a new car seat. But agreeing with that statement can be a serious mistake.

Car seats are made from plastic, steel, and fabric materials. During the car ride, these materials are subject to a lot of pressure and stress. In addition, these materials also face the temperature swings of your car and withstand a lot of spills and mishandling. It may not be visible to the eye, but all of these lead to deterioration of the material over time and affect the durability and the overall look of the chair. 

Heat, wear, and tear are factors that cause car seats to deteriorate. The interior of the car can be subjected to hot and cold temperature changes over the years, causing the plastic cover to crack and other components to degrade.

Temperature changes are just one aspect of the aging process of car seats. Within six or eight years, the sheer momentum can be gone. You may have made a sudden stop 50 times during those 8 years. Each time you stop like this, the fabric will stretch a little. And at some point, it will burst. 

Changes to the quality standards & safety regulations of modern car seats

Passenger safety and comfort are the number one priority for any car seat manufacturer. And to deliver on this promise, manufacturers consistently comply with their products to the latest safety standards published by federal, state, and transportation agencies, testing standards, crash tests, and car manufacturers.

Some manufacturers test their range of car seats above industry standards to ensure that you are always in the safest seat possible. A change in harness weight and height limits or any other criteria could render your existing car seat obsolete.

Car seats are getting more and more new and improved

There are many car seat manufacturers in the market and they all spend big money on their R&D to make the best product for their customers. Like any other product, car seats are always updated and renewed in terms of models and features. Usually, these improved versions of car seats are packed with useful technology and aesthetically pleasing designs. 

Production recall

Many manufacturers run recalls on their older models that may need repair or are reported to have some problems with product safety.

If you registered your newly purchased car seat, you may receive a call from the company asking to return the product in exchange for a repair or service kit or a self-care repair kit. If the product is too old to be repaired, the manufacturer may require you to dispose of the chair in a specified manner.

How To Find And Understand The Car Seat Expiration Dates?

Most car seat manufacturers display the exact expiration date on the bottom or back of the seat, making it easy to find the date on your car seat. Some even display this information on the base of the chair or the chair itself. While some manufacturers only provide the date of manufacture (DOM), this date can be found under the seat.

car seat expiration
Since most of these car seats will expire in 6-10 years, one can easily calculate the expiration date according to the given DOM. (Photo: Pinterest)

However, the best way to know the exact expiration date is to read the user manual or visit the company’s website. Some premium car seats have a shelf life of 8 to 10 years. In that case, it is best not to rush to replace or buy a new chair before checking its expiration date from the manufacturer.

Using An Expired Car Seat Is Legal Or Not?

While it is discouraged in the conclusion of every article or information you find online, using an expired car seat is not illegal in any situation and in any country. The chair can be nominally expired, but no official source can verify and take evidence to confirm that your just-out-of-date chair is utterly unsafe and poses a risk of causing any severe harm. Moreover, age alone can not state anything about a chair’s usability. According to some experts, even car seat manufacturers still cannot give specific reasons for their product’s maximum 10-year lifespan.

According to the US Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are currently no government regulations that prohibit car owners from using expired car seats. However, on the website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers with young children are advised to use car seats that are labeled with the manufacture date and model number. So that they can understand and remember information about the seats’ age as well as to check if their seats have ever been recalled.

According to the Canadian government, the car seat expiration date will help you control several possible problems with the chair. The signs of car seats expire below are not likely to endanger your life or safety, but they can affect your travel experience, your comfort in the car, and many things related to the owner issues.

  • High frequency of use and exposure to the sun can weaken and transform the material of your chair.
  • Instructions for use and storage are lost, or the warning label is blurred
  • Effects from excessive cleaning agents, spilled drinks/food seeping into the seats
  • Standards and regulations for seat safety have changed.
  • The condition of the seats gradually became difficult to control and monitor
  • The next owner may not be aware of the product’s recall for safety reasons and suffer undue consequences.

In short, the United States and Canada discourage drivers of all ages, especially parents, from using expired car seats. These old car seats will often be sent to a landfill or put into shredders into pieces. If you are not a resident of these two countries, it is acceptable to use a used car seat.

There are real-life cases that demonstrate that a quality car seat can last for more than 15 years with little or even showing any deterioration in quality. Hope for a day when anyone can own a set of car seats like that, and we don’t have to deal with car seat expiration dates any longer.

What Can You Do With Old Car Seats?

Now that you know your car seat has expired, you can simply set it aside in your garage or take it out into the street. The first thing to do is to make sure that you mark that expired car seat in a conspicuous form as “expired” or “unsafe”. Also don’t give that car seat to anyone, if it’s dangerous for your child or you, it’s dangerous for anyone else. Here’s what you can do with expired car seats.

Bring it to the 1 for 1 trading store

Some major car dealerships hold car seat swap events throughout the year. As far as we can see, the only store that still does this is Target, but there may be others.

These exchange events allow you to bring in an old or unusable car seat and receive a coupon in return. Target takes 20% off a new car seat, stroller, or other baby gear when you shop. They started this program in 2016 and it has been growing in popularity ever since.

All used car seats traded are recycled and turned into various products such as pallets, buckets, and building materials.


why do car seats expire
Trading events is the most convenient option and we recommend this the most. (Photo: torrellesdefoix)


Most places are picky about used car seats even if they are in great condition. However, you may find that some organizations accept them. Please reply ahead of time about seat availability so they know what they’re getting. After all, you don’t want to compromise anyone’s safety.

  • Women’s shelters or other local charities: Many organizations provide resources for families in need. Foster families often lack essentials like car seats.
  • Church organizations: Church organizations are always looking to help. Some may have sets where they donate car seats to needy families. This is another good option to consider, especially if you are religious.
  • Local CPST: Child passenger safety technicians are trained in car seat safety and car seat installation. They teach their parents the ropes. Contact CPST to see if they would like your old seat for demonstration purposes.


Instead of throwing your old car seat, you can recycle it yourself. You should first call your local recycling center to see if they accept plastic from old car seats. If they do, here’s what you should do:

  • Find your nearest recycling center: Ask your recycling center if they accept car seats and how they would like to receive them. 
  • Check recycling guidelines: Call the center and ask for their specific instructions for car seats. Some may want you to just bring back the bare frame and others may want it completely broken.
  • Remove extras: This includes any fabric, padding, or straps on a car seat. Remove the cover and use scissors to cut the seat belt from the seat. These parts probably are not recyclable, so they can go in the trash.
  • Remove metal pieces: You will probably need a screwdriver for this. It is important to remove as much metal as possible from the car seat. You only need to do it if your recycling center asks you to. Some centers will do this on their own.

Trashing Properly

If for some reason, the chair cannot be recycled, donated, or sold, you can throw it in the trash. However, there are some guidelines to follow before doing so. They are similar to the recycling guidelines and are there to ensure it can be disposed of efficiently:

  • Remove all excess padding and foam.
  • Cut off straps.
  • Remove metal pieces
  • Mark the seat. You should mark “NOT SAFE” or “EXPIRED” on the bare plastic chair so that no one wants to reuse it.

Criteria for High-quality New Car Seats

No need to discuss too much, car seats are an indispensable part of your car to help you experience comfortable driving moments. Choosing car seats and paying close attention to the durability or ability to withstand the strong environmental impacts of each type is important and necessary.

Convenience in design

Try it out to feel it! Seats need to be firm, able to lean back comfortably, and not constrain your legs. Car seats need to have a mode adjustment system and a belt to be both comfortable and safe. Many customers, also pay attention to the rear seat design. Currently, on the market, the design of the rear seats that can be folded to expand the luggage compartment area is very popular.

In general, the car seat design must match the overall interior of the car. In addition, besides testing to feel the material, customers should also open the car door to get in and out of the car to have a more general view of the convenience of the whole seat.

Car seat material

There are many types of car seat covers on the market, varying in design, material, and accompanying price. Normally, car seat covers are made from basic materials such as fabric, felt, Alcantara suede, and high-grade leather with their strengths and limitations.

Fabric car seats bring softness and coolness but are easily worn and torn. The felt has a good texture, but it is mysterious and has an unpleasant smell. Alcantara suede material is eye-catching, and soft but quickly discolored. Meanwhile, high-quality leather material brings a luxurious, durable and expensive image. But if you don’t know how to care for and clean it, the skin is prone to scratches, mold, or skin explosion.

Features of car seats

In addition to being comfortable, safe, and durable, car seats need to have a venting feature to avoid a feeling of suffocation when used. Customers with health problems such as back, spine, or neck pain can add the massage feature of the chair.

>> READ MORE: The Secrets Of Choosing The Best Convertible Car Seat

How To Increase The Car Seat Lifespan?

To make the worry “How long do car seats last” or  “what should I do when it expires” less burdensome, and keep the condition of the seats new after the expiration date has passed, it depends quite a bit on how you protect and cherish them on daily trips.

Learn how to take care of the seats during use and plan for reasonable and smart maintenance. You can make the most of the chair’s comfort to make long trips pleasurable to the very end.

Here are a few small things you should keep in mind to preserve your car seat in the most optimal way.

  • Do not eat or drink in the car, avoid dropping food and drink on the car seat, which can cause stains, and mold, making the seats old and degraded quickly.
  • Avoid place heavy items on the car seat that will cause the seat surface to be concave, not to mention scratched.
  • Do not leave sharp marks such as scissors, knives, or pens… on the car seat surface.
  • Clean car seats regularly. It is best for car owners to bring car wash agents to clean car seats and make sure they will not affect other parts of the car. Car owners can also manually clean cars at home. Depending on the material of the car seat, there are separate cleaning methods.
do car seats expire
Clean car seats regularly to keep the interior space clean and protect the seat cover to be durable. (Photo: Forbes Wheels)
  • Use specialized cleaning solutions and appropriate ways to clean car seats

– Care and cleaning of car seats upholstered in leather

Use a vacuum cleaner to suck up all the dirt on the surface and in small crevices. Then use a soft cloth soaked in a specialized car wash solution with low pH to wipe it clean. You should not use a hard brush, or soap to clean leather seats. And do not clean leather car seats in high-temperature conditions.

– Care and cleaning of car seats upholstered in felt

Felt-covered car seats are more difficult to clean than leather seats. After using the vacuum cleaner to suck up the dirt, spray a specialized car cleaning solution on the surface of the seats, then wipe it clean with a soft cloth. After cleaning, open the car door to let the air flow and avoid the damp seats that will form mold and give off an unpleasant smell.

Wrapping Up

Cheap car seats are a necessity, and drivers can’t ignore buying and equipping this. If you’re looking to buy a car seat after proper planning, it’s obvious that you know what you’re buying and how long it will last. If you have an expired car seat, the first thing you may want to do is never use it again. Second, you need to know how to handle unusable ones. And the most important thing to understand is that even if your expired car seat is in good condition and shows no signs of wear and tear, you should still not use it.

Car seat expiration dates exist right in front of our eyes. All you need to do is pay a little closer attention to the underside of the chair or the area near the seat sticker before installing it to get an idea of ​​how long it will take for your chair to be replaced or restored.

For more helpful car maintenance tips, visit Car From Japan today.