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Did you know that car seats expire?

Graco car seat expiration dates
My Graco car seat was make in May 2007. I figured I would have seven years. I was wrong.

Milk I get. Yogurt, yes. Cheese, for sure. But did you know that car seats often expire.

I guess I always knew somewhere in the back of my head that car seats must have a shelf life, but now that I’m very rapidly approaching the end of mine, I’m not sure what to do.

It was in the spring when I learned that car seats do, in fact, expire. I was pregnant but I got my car seat in 2007. I had heard the average car seat was good for seven years. With one more year to go, I figured I would be home free to make it through my last baby.

Uh, wrong.

I looked online to determine how to tell when my seat expires. On mine, the expiration date is etched into the plastic on the bottom of the seat itself.

Mine said 12/2013.

I wasn’t sure if I was reading it correctly. I mean, I’m sure I was but I was hormonal and didn’t want to have to make the decision of whether or not to use it beyond its expiration date. So, I did what any sane person would do–I email Graco. I explained that my seat was going to be hitting it’s “best buy” date right when our baby was like five months old. Should I continue using it because it’s only a few months after the expiration date?

From Graco:

Graco car seat expiration dates are engraved in the plastic
Graco car seat expiration dates are engraved in the plastic. Mine expires this month.

Thank you for contacting Graco regarding the useful life of your car seat. You would not want to continue use after the date imbedded in the plastic shell. With changes in regulation, changes in vehicle, new technology and other factors, including general wear and tear of a car seat, we recommend that a car seat be replaced on or before reach the “Do Not Use After” date. 

Here are the buzz words that bother me:

  • Changes in vehicle–I drive the same car. How would the change in vehicle impact me? Because it’s older? I’m confused.
  • New technology–Maybe I’m comfortable with the “olden day” technology of the seat I have. Just because you *think* one product is superior to another, doesn’t always mean that it is. My baby might be just as safe in the car seat I have.
  • General wear-and-tear–I have three kids. It’s not like I had six kids other the six years or anything. It has had general wear-and-tear, sure but I’m sure there are others out there that have been used more than mine over the lifespan.

I have a Graco Snugride Classic Connect. It holds babies up to 22 lbs or so. Neither of my other

babies outgrew this seat before they were one. I wanted to at least make it through winter with an

infant seat because it’s nice to be able to carry it in the cold. Beyond that, I’m not afraid to move to a bigger seat before one year (rear facing of course).

I figured if buy another seat, I will replace it with the same model. It’s about $80. I have four bases already for that particular model so I guess it’s probably the best bet. Or, I can get the 30 lbs-er, which is a little more but might get me buy a bit longer. But I would need three additional bases.

Either way, it seems to me like in six months, I won’t care what I bought because I’ll still have it. And you aren’t really supposed to sell car seats. So what? I trash a six-month-old barely used car seat?

In all fairness, Graco did offer me a $10 off coupon if I bought one directly from them. However, it was still cheaper to buy it at Meijer, Walmart or Amazon.

Or, I keep the one I have. I mean, they did say “recommend” and I’m not completely convinced by their arguments that this is something that MUST.BE.DONE.

So what are your thoughts? I mean, it is my child’s life but is it really necessary or a way for the car seat companies to make more money?

6 thoughts on “Did you know that car seats expire?

  1. Totally would get a new one in a heartbeat. There are so many factors that go into those dates – everything from heat/cold stress to the longevity of the plastic itself. You could see if a trusted friend has one you could borrow until the winter months are over, trade this one in at BRU if they’re doing a trade, or buy a convertible seat earlier.

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  4. Hi,

    I’ve just discovered the same thing about my Graco Platinum SnugRide Classic Connect 22… It expires this Dec 2014.
    I’m really interested in finding out if you continued to use your seat those few extra months, because I’m debating the same. I have a weird feeling about the suggested 6 years expiration recently changing to 10 years… Makes me wonder if the extra few months really matter?

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