A car seat goes through a lot during its useful life; spills, stains, and even damage to the fabric a milliard times. Weather fluctuations, weights, and ages add a toll on the car seat. The washings and adjustments, installation, and re-installation contribute to its wear and tear. The safety and comfort of your baby while using a car seat can only be guaranteed for a defined period.
When Do Graco Car Seats Expire?
For Graco car seats, useful life is defined as 10 years for belt-positioning boosters and steel-reinforced belt path car seats and 7 years for plastic-reinforced belt path car seats. Each Graco seat is marked with its Date of Manufacture on one of the car seat’s labels.
To determine the useful life, you will have to do a simple calculation of the car seat expiration date; adding the date of Manufacture plus Useful Life will give you the Car Seat Expiration Date.
WhyDo Graco Car Seats Expire?
It’s tempting to believe that car seat expiration dates exist to support a billion-dollar baby gear industry out to exploit you and get more money out of you. The truth is that there are important safety reasons behind limiting the life of your car seat. These factors are;
Wear and Tear
The frequent use of your baby’s car seat decreases its quality and effectiveness in case of a crash. Extreme temperature fluctuations cause tiny cracks on plastic weakening it day after another. In addition, the metal parts can eventually grow rusty and synthetic fabrics on the seat or straps could weaken making a seat less safe.
Technology is changing so fast, and so are designed for car seats. A seat that looked cozy a few years ago is now old and outdated. With advancement comes improved safety and luxurious features improving functionality, comfort, and safety. For instance, Graco has introduced Convertible car seats with advanced side impact protection, legroom, and cup holders. A manufacturer may also cease to produce replacement parts and accessories for an obsolete model.
Advancement in Safety Standards and Regulations
Transportation agencies, professional medical associations, like the American Academy of Pediatrics, and car seat manufacturers are constantly conducting and evaluating safety and crash tests. Manufacturers must stay up-to-date on all of the changing regulations and standards to ensure they make car seats that comply with those changes.
Ideally, you should register your car seat as soon as you buy it so the manufacturer can let you know of any product recalls. The reality is we sometimes use hand-me-down car seats with no registration card in sight. Expiration dates ensure that even if you miss a recall announcement, you’ll have a relatively up-to-date car seat that is more likely to be free of problems.
How to Dispose of an Expired Car Seat
The seats don’t dissolve on the expiration date at the stroke of midnight. Rather, you should plan on replacing them at or around the expiration date. Do not donate or hand it down, that’s not right. An expired seat should be disposed of in a way that it won’t be reused by anyone else. To help ensure this, it is a good idea to remove the cover, cut or remove the harness straps, and write “do not use, expired” on it before taking it for recycling or disposing of. Some baby stores and big retailers often have car seat trade-in or recycling programs.
Contact your local store to ask about their policy.
Is it Illegal to Use an Expired Car Seat?
If your car seat has reached or exceeded its use-by date, you may wonder if it’s legal to continue using it. It can be a hassle to find a seat similar to the expired one, especially if your car is an older model. The question is, will you be arrested if you use an expired car seat? In the United States of America, for instance, the law is mum about the use of expired car seats. Whether the car seat is still acceptable to use is entirely decided by the parent. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that expired car seats should not be used as some of the safety features may no longer be in place risking the life of your loved ones.
What makes a Car Seat lose its Usefulness Before Expiry Date
- If parts are missing.
- The car seat was in use in a car that was involved in a crash.
- Signs of wear and tear such as cracks or tears on the frame, loose harness, and missing or loose buckles.
- Recall by manufacturer
How to Maximize a Car Seat’s Useful Time
- Install the car seat properly according to instructions on the manual. Improper installation compromises the safety of your baby during use. To double-check if you have installed it properly, you can visit a car seat inspection station or consult a certified child passenger safety technician.
- Adhere to the weight and size limit. This ensures efficiency in case of a crash or emergency braking.
- Choose the right size for your baby. A seat that is too small or too large is not recommended, and its use might cause damage to the seat even before the expiry time.
- Regularly inspect the seat to check for missing or loose parts. If there are any problems with the parts, replace them.
- Clean the seat regularly to remove spills and stains the seats. It is advisable to keep them clean for prolonged usefulness.
- Purchase a seat that has not been in stores for long. Always buy car seats from the manufacturer or a store that sells out the seat fast.
- Choose a seat that meets or exceeds the safety standards. The label on the seat will guide you. If in doubt, consult.
In conclusion, the use of expired car seats is not illegal but it is not recommended. A car seat that is not expired improves the safety and comfort of your baby.