A commentor on on my post about Extended Harnessing asked me a very good question to which I’d like to respond more fully and publically. She asked about carseats having an expiration date. YES. They do. Typically, a carseat will last a good 5-6 years before it is expired, but you really have to check with your manufacturer to make sure of specifics. You can find the date-of-manufacture on the side of the seat, and that’s what you go by. Occasionally seats will be sold with earlier dates of manufacture than when you bought them…for example, you bought it this month but the DOM is in 2007. (I think this mainly happens when you buy online from certain retailers) Make sure you check this DOM before you buy so you know what you’re getting since you will have one less year of usage from the seat.
Be wary of buying used carseats. Two times lately I have gone to consignment sales and seen expired carseats for sale. These were large, well-organized sales where you would not expect to see something being sold that’s unsafe. Both times I found nasty, eight year-old carseats for sale that seriously looked like they were about to fall apart. I emailed both organizations that put on the sale and let them know that they need to have more research and stringent requirements about what carseats they sell.
Ideally, you should not buy a used carseat at all. If a seat is ever in an accident, it is rendered unusable and should be discarded. If you buy a used seat, especially from someone you don’t know, you have no idea if that seat has ever been in an accident or not. Accidents weaken the seat and will not adequately protect your child.
When your carseat expires and you are ready to get rid of it, make sure to cut the straps before you put it on the curb because someone WILL come-by and snatch it before it’s taken away, and you don’t want to endanger another child with your old seat.
Here is a video showing what happens when an expired carseat gets in an accident: