How Long Are Car Seats Good For? Car Seat Expiration Explained

green checkmark This article was reviewed by Amanda Brown, CPST.

If you are anything like us, before you became a parent you had no idea car seat expiration dates even existed. Strollers don’t expire, why would car seats expire?

And if car seats do expire, what does that mean? It isn’t like that yogurt in the back of your fridge dated 2018: an expired car seat won’t smell bad or even look bad. It may appear to be in perfectly good condition. So how do we know if our car seat is expired, and what do we do if we find we have an expired car seat?

These are complex questions so we went to GoodBuy Gear’s OG Wingmom and top car seat expert, Amanda Brown. As a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST), Amanda knows more about car seats than you’d even guess there is to know. We interviewed Amanda about car seat safety, the lifespan of car seats, and car seat expiration. 

Read on for answers to our team’s most burning questions about car seat lifespan and car seat expiration:

Is it true that car seats expire?

“It’s true: car seats have a recommended lifespan of about 6 to 10 years from the manufacture date to the expiration date.” says Amanda, “This is the case whether your little one is in an infant car seat, a convertible car seat, an all in one car seat or a booster seat. Even backless booster seats and car seat bases have limited lifespans and expiration dates. All of these products fall under the broader category of child restraints.”

(That’s worth noting: “car seats” is often used as shorthand for child restraints broadly and we are following that convention in this article. Whenever we say car seats, we mean all types of child restraints mentioned above, from “traditional” car seats to harnesses, boosters, bases, and more. Anything other than a seatbelt that is used to restrain a child in a vehicle.)

Why do car seats expire?

This is a tough question, with a simple answer and a more nuanced “answer behind the answer”.

The simplest answer is that a car seat’s materials can break down and get worn out after prolonged periods of use. Expiration dates are a way to check on this and ensure car seats aren’t being used far past the period for which they are designed.

The more nuanced answer is that car seats are governed by different regulations than other baby gear, and are treated more like seat belts or other car safety features. “Car seats are among the most important baby gear because their purpose is to keep your little one safe.” Amanda says, “Because car seats have such an important job, you can think of them similar to seat belts or other safety features. Like seat belts, car seats are governed by safety standards published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, (NHTSA) and also by state and federal regulators.”

Since we are always learning more about car seat safety, these safety standards are always evolving. The standard in place at the car seat’s manufacture date may have changed. You can always find the most up to date safety standards on the NHTSA’s Car Seat Safety page here. NHTSA also publishes recall data so you can always be sure your car seat has not been recalled.

Do rear facing car seats expire sooner than forward facing car seats?

“This is often an area of confusion, because there are so many things for parents to remember about car seat use! When you transition from a rear facing car seat to a forward facing car seat has to do with your little one’s height and weight. (You heard us right: age is not the deciding factor for car seat safety and transitions! It is all about your little one’s size, specifically height and weight).  Infant car seats should always be rear facing, but convertible car seats or all in one car seats can be either rear facing or forward facing depending on your little one’s size. If you want to know more about how long infant car seats last, when you should transition from rear facing to front facing, and more, check out our guide on when to change car seats.

Just because your infant has outgrown a car seat does not mean it is expired. For example, when your little one outgrows her infant car seat and is ready for a forward facing car seat, the infant car seat isn’t expired - it is just ready to be recycled or move on to another family.

Do car seat bases and booster seats expire, too? 

“Expiration isn’t only for infant seats.” says Amanda, “Car seats for all ages, including car seat bases and booster seats do expire. Similar to infant, convertible, or all in one car seats, car seat pieces usually expire within six to ten years of their manufacture date. Some items may have a lifespan that is shorter than six years, so pay attention to your specific car seat or booster seat model and refer to the car seat manufacturer’s website or car seat instruction manual that was enclosed with your car seat when you purchased it.”

How can I tell if I have an expired car seat?

Although car seats typically have a lifespan of 6 to 10 years from the date of manufacture, some will have lifespans that are shorter than that, so you should always check with the label on the seat itself. If you have trouble finding the label on the seat itself, we’ve got you covered. If the label is missing, you can always check with your car seat manufacturer through your  instruction manual to see how long you have until your car seat’s expiration date.

What are the signs that a car seat is expired?

Now you know how to find your car seat expiration date on the label. But even if your car seat still has time left between its manufacture date and expiration date, it may still be unsafe to use. Here are the most common reasons a car seat may be unsafe to use, and how to find them.

  • Recalls: Recalls occur when a company discovers a safety concern or defect with their product. If you discover your car seat has been recalled, contact the manufacturer to determine whether you can fix the seat or if you need to replace it. You can check for recalls via the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). At GoodBuy Gear, we always check every item before we list it for sale it to ensure it has not been recalled.
  • Safety Standard Changes: Safety standards are always evolving as governing bodies learn more. Federal regulations and guidance from the NHTSA for car seat safety may change over time. That means older car seats may not contain currently-required safety features, or car seats without those features are no longer compliant; this is why in general car seat expiration dates are set in relation to date of manufacture.
  • Damage: A car seat that has been involved in a major car crash is no longer safe to use and should be replaced. However, manufacturers vary in their policies around whether car seats involved in a minor crash can be safe to use, and under what circumstances. For this reason, we always recommend checking with the manufacturer to understand their policy on the exact model. Before selling any gently used car seat on GoodBuy Gear, we require a seller attestation confirming the seller is the original owner of the car seat and that the car seat has never been involved in a car crash, in addition to our other car seat safety checks.

At GoodBuy Gear, we sell brand new, open box and gently used car seats. Every used car seat we sell has passed our 30-point Car Seat Safety Inspection process and has at least two years until expiration. 

Where can I find the expiration date on my car seat? 

Car seat expiration dates can be hard to find, so we’ve got you covered. You can find your car seat’s expiration date on the seat’s label sticker or in the instruction manual that came with your seat. (As always, you can also contact the manufacturer of your seat. They can always provide this information as well.) See below for an example with Baby Jogger.

Car Seat Label

Here is how to find your car seat’s expiration date and manufacture date:

  • Label: The label is usually a white sticker on the seat. It includes information such as the serial number and the expiration date. The date of manufacture is also listed which can tell you the lifespan of the seat.
  • Manual: The car seat manual will arrive in the box with your car seat and will include relevant car seat safety and car seat expiration information, so make sure you put it in the specified storage space on the seat or somewhere safe. (If you want to sell your non-expired car seat down the road, you’ll want to hold on to the instruction manual.)


Lost track of the instruction manual? Pro tip: you can almost always find a copy of the instruction manual on the manufacturer’s website. Just make sure you are paying attention to the manufacture dates on the manual so you can be sure it is the accurate manual for their specific seat you own. If you have any trouble finding this, you can always contact the manufacturer. It won’t be the first time they’ve been asked, so don’t be shy! 

Car Seat Expiration Dates for Popular Brands:

We are often asked how popular brands compare in lifespan and expiration dates. To help you out in your initial research, read on. Keep in mind that these are estimates and different models/years can have varying expiration dates.

Graco car seat expiration date*: Depending on the model, either 7 or 10 years. Your Graco car seat will have a 7-year lifespan if it is a harnessed seat with plastic-reinforced belt paths, such as the Contender™ 65 Convertible Car Seat, and will have a 10-year lifespan if it is a belt-positioning booster or a harnessed seat with a steel-reinforced belt path. With Graco, you’ll need to do some math: add the lifespan to the date of manufacture to get the expiration date. Read more direct from Graco here.

Britax car seat expiration date*: Depending on the model and manufacture date, between 6 and 10 years. If the Britax car seat was manufactured after 2010, Britax infant car seats have a lifespan of 6 years, Convertible car seats (excluding the Classic line) have a lifespan of 7 years, ClickTight Convertible car seats have a lifespan of 10 years, , Harness-2-Booster seats have a lifespan of 9 years, and Belt-Positioning Booster seats have a lifespan of 6 or 10 years - for the latter, you’ll need to check the user guide of your specific booster seat.  Read more direct from Britax here.

Doona expiration date*: The Doona stroller and infant seat expires 6 years from date of manufacture. Read more from Doona here.

Maxi-Cosi car seat expiration date*: Maxi-Cosi car seats have among the longest useful lifespans, from 8 to 12 years. The Mico 30 has a lifespan of 8 years; Mico Max 30, 8 years; Mico Max Plus, 8 years; Magellan, 12 years; Pria 3-in-1, 10 years; Pria 3-in-1 Max, 10 years. 

Chicco car seat expiration date: Chicco expiration dates vary by model and date of manufacture, and you’ll need to check your individual Chicco car seat’s label. Read more from Chicco here.

Nuna car seat expiration date: Nuna car seat expiration dates also vary by model and date of manufacture, and you’ll need to check your individual Nuna car seat’s label. 

* Dates provided are estimates and different models/years can have varying expiration dates. Check with your manufacturer via label or manual.

When should I replace my car seat? 

You should look into purchasing a new car seat when yours expires or reaches the end of its lifespan for any reason, from expiration to damage causing impaired car seat safety. Expired car seats may still look like they’re in good condition, so be diligent about checking their expiration date.

You will likely also want to change your car seat when your little one outgrows it, whether you are moving from an infant car seat to a convertible car seat, or a convertible car seat to a booster car seat. Our Child Passenger Safety Technician Amanda Brown breaks down how to know when to transition to the next car seat here.

What if I have an expired car seat?

To ensure car seat safety for your little one, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends you should never use an expired car seat. If you find that your car seat’s expiration date has passed, you should dispose of the seat through a recycling program or trade-in program like Target’s. You won’t want to sell or hand down an expired car seat.

Can I use an expired car seat?

The primary function of a child’s car seat is to keep your little one safe. Car seats expire because they can’t uphold the safety standard required to make sure they’re functional. For increased safety (and peace of mind!), it’s best to use a car seat that isn’t expired. While you can sell a used car seat, you should never sell or hand down an expired car seat. At GoodBuy Gear, our Car Seat Safety Checks ensure we never sell expired car seats and that any used car seat sold has more than 2 years until its expiration date.

Is it illegal to use an expired car seat or sell an expired car seat?

This depends on state and federal regulations. The best place to find up to date federal regulations is on the NHTSA website. In terms of state regulations, we recommend Safe Ride 4 Kids’ robust reference guide to all current state regulations.

How do I dispose of an expired car seat? 

Once a car seat or booster seat expires, you’ll want to recycle it properly. Expired car seats shouldn’t be sold or handed down. So when your car seat expires, you should look for a trade-in program. A number of retailers like Target offer programs like this. You can also look out for a car seat recycling program. If you are using a trade-in program, make sure the program accepts expired car seats.

I’m done using my car seat, but it isn’t expired. What can I do with it?

Perhaps you moved on to a new car seat that is compatible with your stroller or part of a travel system, or you upgraded from an infant car seat to a convertible car seat, or a convertible car seat to a booster seat as your little one has grown. In these instances, as long as the car seat is still in good condition, is not expired, and has not been in a car crash, you have more options for resale, reuse or recycling.

Sell your gently-used car seat 

If you have a gently used car seat in good condition that is ready to move on to a new family for reuse (or if you’re looking to purchase a new seat for your family), we’ve got you covered. Parents are surprised to find out that you can actually sell your used car seat. Our team of experts will quality check each gently-used car seat to make sure it hasn’t been recalled, it has sufficient time until expiration, and isn’t missing parts, among other car seat safety check features. Infant car seats tend to be outgrown quickly relative to the remaining lifespan between manufacture date and expiration date, so are an optimal choice for selling.

That way, more parents can score a good deal on a used car seat and not contribute to the 12 million seats that are tossed each year. 

More car seat safety tips and safety standards from CPSTs: 

Further reading on buying and selling used car seats:

Have a gently-used seat that's ready to move on to the next family? Learn how your sell your gently-used car seat with GoodBuy Gear today

Have questions about your specific car seat? Book an appointment with a CPST through Tot Squad to get the professional help you need.



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