Many consumers think that little expiration date on their car seat is a ploy from manufacturers to get you to just purchase more of their products. However, there are several safety reasons why manufacturers include expiration dates on their car seats.
Car Seat Expiration Dates
Generally, car seats have a lifespan of anywhere from 6 to 10 years and yes, they really do expire. Here's why:
- Car seats simply are not meant to last forever. They are comprised of materials that wear down and degrade over time after exposure to extreme temps in your car. Even if you can't see any signs of wear, it's still happening.
- Technology and standards are constantly changing. Manufacturers work to update safety standards and designs on their products, and an older seat may not offer the latest safety standards or be in compliance anymore.
Where To Find Expiration Dates
Manufacturers are required to include a sticker with the car seats manufacture date on every car seat. These stickers are usually along the side or bottom of the car seat. Most car seats expire 6 years from their manufacture date. If you can't locate a date on your car seat, you can check the owner's manual or simply call the manufacturer and ask them.
As a side note, purchasing a used car seat is generally not recommended. Even if it still looks like it's in great shape, it may actually be missing parts and you just never know the full history of a used car seat. Additionally, older car seats may be nearing their expiration dates and may not serve you for very long anyway. For those same reasons, selling or donating expired car seats is typically not recommended either.
How To Recycle Car Seats
So what if your car seat is expired? What should you do when your children outgrow their car seat or it's past its expiration date? Do you trash, donate, or recycle it? It seems like a shame to just toss them into a landfill, and, as mentioned above, selling or donating car seats that are past their expiration date is not recommended for safety purposes. As it turns out, car seats are recyclable! However, because car seats are designed to not come apart easily, dismantling them properly for recycling can be tricky business.
Old Car Seat, New Life serves as a resource for consumers to find recycling programs in their area. If you are in an area where local recycling is not available, here's what BabyEarthRENEW recommends:
- Separate any metal, rigid plastic, and foam products from the car seat that cannot be reused or recycled.
- Take any recyclable fabrics to be composted or to a reuse facility.
- If your car seat is not expired and still complies with current safety standards, donate it to a local charity.
If those options don't work for you, keep an eye out for retailers such as The Baby Cubby or Target to hold a car seat recycling drive, where you can bring in your old car seats for a discount on a new one.
If you're looking to recycle a Clek car seat, you can send it right back to the manufacturer! All you need to do is purchase a return label and Clek will then send you an email with both your return shipping label and a unique coupon code for the same value of the label that you can use on a future purchase. Clek has even found a way to recycle nearly every part of returned car seats, such as repurposing the fabric covers into pet beds. I find that to be seriously cool and hope more manufacturers will follow suit in the future!