Child restraints expire, they cannot be used forever. In this article, we’ll help you understand the importance of car seat expiry dates and why they exist.
If you have an expired seat and are not sure how to dispose of it, there is an organisation in New Zealand, called SeatSmart, who do this for you. They have drop-off locations throughout the country. You’ll find all the info you need on their website, www.seatsmart.co.nz.
Why do we have car seat expiry dates?
There are a variety of genuine reasons why car seat expiry dates exist.
For example, safety technology is always improving. The technology used in the manufacture of a child restraint which has passed its expiry date may no longer meet current safety standards.
In addition, restraints are exposed to high temperatures and harsh UV rays in a vehicle.
Think about plastic toys left out in a sandpit over summer – in time they become quite brittle and are easy to break. The same is happening to the plastic of a child restraint. Of course, this happens over a longer period of time. And their exposure is not as intense as with toys left outside. But this is the long term effect. The result is that over time the shell of the restraint may not be able to withstand the same crash forces that it was originally designed to.
In addition, after years of use, food and other substances get into the harness and it’s unlikely these are cleaned off properly. As a result, these can degrade the restraint’s materials. In turn, it is possible that in a crash they will not function as they were designed to.
Mouldy Car Seat Harness
If harnesses are not cleaned properly, or are stored in a damp place when not in use, the harnesses become mouldy. Mould cannot be washed off. It can eat away at the webbing so it may no longer be strong enough to hold the weight of a child when put under pressure from the forces of a crash.
In some cases, a car seat harness can be replaced. If you have a mouldy harness on your car seat, you would stop using the child restraint until you have replaced the straps. Contact the local distributor of your car seat. They will be able to advise you as to whether the harness can be replaced or not. Never replace a harness with one from another car seat. This may be designed to operate under different limits than those approved by your child restraint and therefore may not protect your child as it should.
Car Seat Storage
You can avoid mould and other damage that occurs from dampness. When storing your car seat between children make sure that you do so in a clean and dry place.
Car Seat Lifespans
These situations above are just a few reasons why restraints have a lifespan.
Restraints’ lifespans can range from 5 to 10 years.
Check our “Car Seat Lifespan List” to find out the lifespan for your child restraint.
Car Seat Date of Manufacture or Date of Purchase
In some cases, a car seat’s lifespan starts from the date the child restraint was manufactured. In other words, its “date of manufacture”. And in other cases, it starts from the date the child restraint was bought. Or, its “date of purchase”. Any retailer should be able to advise you which of these is the case with the restraints you are looking at, and also how long a restraint’s lifespan is. Read our article, “How to Read a Car Seat Date Stamp” to help you out with this. And you are always welcome to message or call us at SitTight if you need any other information.
If you are buying a second-hand restraint it is vital that you check the car seat expiry date to be sure it has a reasonable amount of its lifespan left.
You’re always welcome to make contact with us at SitTight to ask questions about the correct, safe and legal use of child restraints. Or you can follow us on Facebook or Instagram. If you would like to have a child restraint technician check or install your seat for you, let us know or follow this link to find your local CRT.