In a recent article we wrote that car seats have an expiration date, which experts recommend you follow (even if you don’t legally have to).
But what about car seat bases – do they have an expiration date too?
The short answer is yes – due to wear and tear, technological improvements and updated safety regulations, car seat bases do have expiration dates, which are usually 6-10 years from the date of manufacture.
Do Car Seat Bases Expire?
Car seat bases do expire and therefore they have a defined useful life.
Just like an infant safety seat, there are several factors that parents should understand as to why car seat bases expire.
These include advancements in technology, regulatory updates and natural wear and tear (more on these later).
What Is A Car Seat Base?
If you’re not familiar with what a car seat base is, it might be helpful to quickly describe what these are.
A car seat base is a device which you fit into place using you car’s seat belt.
When it’s time to put your child in your car, you simply place their car seat on top of the base and press down, so the latches secure the seat firmly and safely in place.
Similarly, when it’s time to take your little one out of the car, you simply use the button or handle to release the seat from the base.
Some parents find car seat bases invaluable because they significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to secure your baby in your car.
This can be particularly useful in wet, cold or hot weather conditions, and also if you regularly park on busy roads where there is a lot of passing traffic, which can make getting your baby in and out of the car quite stressful depending on which side the seat is located.
However, it’s certainly not mandatory to use a car seat base, and there are many parents who don’t use them.
Is It Illegal To Use An Expired Car Seat Base?
It it not illegal to use an expired car seat base.
However, this does not mean that it’s a safe thing to do, especially given how serious car accidents can be and how as a parent you child’s safety is likely to be your number one concern.
How Long Are Car Seat Bases Good For?
While there is no single answer as to how long a car seat base is good for, the majority of bases have expiry dates between 6-10 years from the date of manufacture.
While some parents may think this is a conspiracy to persuade us to buy more bases, there are in fact very good reasons why expiration dates are in place, which we’ll cover shortly.
How Do I Know If My Car Seat Base Is Expired?
It should be pretty easy to check if your car seat base is expired.
In most cases there will be a small white sticker somewhere on the base, which contains information about the date of manufacture, serial number, model number and expiration date of the base.
Why Do Car Seat Bases Expire?
Wear Down Of Materials
Infant car seat bases are mostly manufactured from plastic, which eventually weakens after being exposed to the extreme temperatures most cars face.
If you stop to think just how cold a car can get overnight in winter, and how much it heats up on a hot summer’s day, it’s easy to see how and why materials break down over time.
In addition, the repeated latching and unlatching, along with the weight of the car seat compressing on the base, can also cause a lot of wear and tear over the years.
Updated Safety Standards
As with car seats, infant car seat bases must pass strict rules and regulations set by the NHTSA before they can be legally sold to the public.
Over time safety regulations change and are updated, so what was once considered safe may no longer be the case.
As technology continues to develop, the performance of new car seat bases improves, so by having an expiration date, parents are more likely to use and benefit from better designed, safer and newer models.
Just as the public would expect, the manufacturers of the bases continuously update their products and specifications to improve overall performance.
Clearly this is a very good thing, because it can help protect the lives of our children – in the USA alone, thousands of young children are killed or injured in car crashes every year.
Again, given a newer car seat base is likely to have better safety features than an older one, it makes sense that parents are encouraged to use a new base.
Do Chicco Car Seat Bases Expire?
On their website, Chicco state that all their car seats bases have an expiration date listed somewhere on the base.
This is usually 6 years from the date of manufacture.
Do Britax Car Seat Bases Expire?
Britax car seat bases expire 6 years after the date of manufacture.
Do Safety First Car Seat Bases Expire?
Safety 1st seat bases also expire 6 years after the date of manufacture.
Do Graco Car Seat Bases Expire?
Just like their car seats, Graco car seat bases expire 7-10 years after the date of manufacture.
If In Doubt, Ask The Manufacturer
Hopefully this help answer your questions about the expiration of car seat bases.
However, if you are in any doubt or want further clarification it’s a good idea to ask your manufacturer directly.
It’s also a good idea to register your seat and base to ensure you’re notified about any product recalls, and to manually check this information from time to time as well.