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How Long Are Car Seats Good For? When Should They Be Replaced?

Car seat Photo by Erik Mclean from Pexels

If you have a newborn, one of the most important items that you need is an infant car seat. These seats are not only convenient, but the law also states that your child must be in one when traveling if they are under a certain size and height. However, these seats can be quite expensive, especially if you have more than one child, and many want to know how long they last and if you can reuse them. Keep reading as we look into how you can determine when it’s time to replace your child’s car seat so you can keep everyone safe and stay legal.

divider 5 How Long Is a Car Seat Good For?

The short answer to how long a car seat is good for is 6 to 8 years, but each seat is different. Modern technology also enables seats to last longer, and many brands are releasing seats that can last a decade. For example, Britax has a One4Life model that can last up to 10 years and intends to be the only seat that your child will need. The Diono Radian 3QXT is another child seat that can last up to 10 years.

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Image By: rhonda_jenkins, Pixabay

How Do I Know When It’s Time to Replace a Car Seat?

Most manufacturers make it easy to know when to replace a car seat because it will have an expiration date printed clearly on the label. This label is usually a sticker stuck to the sides or base of the seat in an area that doesn’t get much wear, so the sticker will be easy to read even as years pass.

Why Do Car Seats Expire?

Degraded Materials

Some people think that car seats going bad is nothing more than a marketing gimmick, especially since the federal government has not yet passed any laws concerning the expiration of a child seat. However, most child seats use shock-absorbing foam that can break down and become less effective after years of use. Leaks and spills can also degrade the materials, as can constant scrubbing and washing. If you tend to leave the seat in the car when you’re not using it, it will also face extreme heat and cold. The ultraviolet rays in the sunlight will also be a factor in breaking down the fabric and the plastic. As these materials degrade, the seat won’t be as safe as it was, and you’re better off replacing it.

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Image Credit: jeanvdmeulen, Pixabay

New Technology

New technology can also be a good reason to upgrade your car seat. Seat designs are in line with what is known about child safety. As a result, modern car seats utilize new safety features and have a longer life span, and are much safer in an accident.

A Recall

One reason to immediately change car seats is because of a recall. Unfortunately, this can happen with any brand. Keep an eye out for recalls on the things that you use and change them once you learn of a problem. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can help you learn about any recent car seat recalls.

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Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay

Car Seat Statistics

  • Car accidents are the number-one killer of children, so it’s important to ensure that you securely fasten them into the vehicle before starting to drive.
  • If you use the car seat properly, you can reduce the risk of death in an accident by 70%.
  • As much as 59% of car seats are installed or used improperly, increasing the risk of injury in an accident.
  • As many as 75% of users are unsure how to use the LATCH system, resulting in improper installation. LATCH stands for lower anchors and tethers for children, and it’s a system mandated by the federal government that involves an easier method of installing the seat without using the vehicle’s seatbelts. It uses lower anchors to keep the seat in place and upper tethers to keep the top of the seat from moving forward at a sudden stop.

Other Common Questions

Is It Legal to Purchase a Used Car Seat?

Yes. If you trust the seller, buying a used car seat is legal as long as it’s not beyond the expiration date.

How Can I Learn How to Install My Car Seat Correctly?

If you are having a hard time learning how to install the car seat correctly by following the included manual, we recommend watching one of the many videos available on YouTube. You can also find a local Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPS) to help you. A CPS is a better choice because a real person will physically show you how to install your car seat in your vehicle, but it can be costly, and there may not be one near you.

How Long Does My Child Need to Use a Child Seat?

Many children will move from a car seat to a booster seat around age 4, but most modern car seats are designed to hold children until they weigh about 65 pounds, so many kids can stay in them until they’re 6 years old. New technologies even allow tall children to stay in rear-facing seats for longer. You will need to check with the owner’s manual for your car seat to see when your child is too big to use it.

divider 5 Summary

Almost any modern car seat will be good for at least 6 years, with many being able to reach the 10-year mark, so one chair can be good for two children in many cases. It’s also possible to purchase a good used seat that still has plenty of time before it reaches the expiration date. You can also sell yours if you’ve only used it for 4 or 6 years and get some of your money back, especially if you don’t plan on having any other children.

Featured Image Credit: Erik Mclean, Pexels


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