Take some time to look through the galleries on the left. We have provided photos of some popular car seats and where to look for the date of manufacture and expiration dates. These labels also may include model, serial and batch numbers. The companies don't always make this process easy. This is especially true when the date is found molded into the plastic. We did our best to help you find the appropriate information for certain child seats. If you need more guidance finding this information on your particular model, contact your manufacturer or post your question and we'll try and assist you. We will grow our photo library over time to address additional seats.
If you've looked at the photos, you understand that there are indeed manufacturer expiration dates. We found that dates can be as many as 8 years and in some cases as little as 5. Parents should know that NHTSA instructs its techs and both Safe Kids and the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association agree that no seat should be used for more than a period of 6 years from its date of manufacture. What should the public take from this? They should note both experts and seat manufacturers agree that seats do have a finite lifespan. Best practice would be to retire that seat after 6 years. That is of course unless your car seat manufacturer states that its lifespan is 5 years. Always consult your seat markings, labels and manual for this information.
Let's say you're on board so far. Now, you need to know the reasons why they expire.
Car seat technology is always evolving, as are vehicles' ability to secure seats properly and consistently. Before 2002, Lower Anchor & Tethers for Children (LATCH) did not exist. Now it's a common system by which car seats are installed. The same is true of top tethers on car seats and tether anchors in cars. A skilled technician would never think to bypass tether usage if it is an option. This technology exists to make our children safer.
Materials wear out
Plastic stresses and warps. Straps and fabrics fray and rip. Instruction manuals get lost or destroyed. Important instructional labels fade, tear or fall off completely.
Manufacturing landscapes change
Your manufacturer may no longer stock replacement manuals and parts. Maybe the company has gone out of business entirely.
The bottom line is this: Know how to check your car seat's expiration date and vital information. Retire that old car seat and get a new one if necessary. As always, ask for help. Contact a CPS technician for some curb-side instruction.