Do Car Seat Bases Expire? (How to check and Does it matter?)

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We all know that car seats have an expiration date but do car seat bases expire? Many are now sold with bases that can be left in your vehicle for ease and extra safety.

In this article, we are going to look at several car seat bases and whether as a parent we need to be aware of any expiration dates, or any safety features we need to be aware of when traveling with our baby.

What Is A Car Seat Base?

Typically a car seat base is an extra piece of kit that you can buy with or as a separate feature to your car seat. They can be used with car seats ranging from newborn to toddler seats and can become a permanent fixture in your car.

They secure to the seat frame of your car and your little one’s car seat just clicks into the base with ease allowing quick installation and the peace of mind that the car seat is always fitted correctly.

Many bases can be used with a seat belt and/or ISOFIX fit but be sure to check that your car allows for ISOFIX as many older cars may not. 

Is Having A Car Seat Base Safer?

In a nutshell, using a car seat base can be safer but this is purely down to the fact that it is only fitted once and then sits as a permanent fixture in the car. The only time car seats become dangerous is when they are fitted to the car incorrectly or are not compatible with a particular car.

We have all been there, it’s pouring with rain, you can feel your shirt sticking to your back as you hunch over the car seat fumbling with a twisted seat belt.

Or you have your door open and are very aware that there are inpatient cars waiting for you to close it before continuing on their journey.

Whatever your experience, fitting a belted car seat can add pressure on us as parents, and therefore safety may become an unknown risk if fitted incorrectly. 

Using a stationary base means that these pressures are taken off you and the car seat is clicked in with ease. It is also reassuring knowing that the base was fitted and time and care were taken to ensure it was fitted correctly.

mother adjusting strap of infant car seat

Do Car Bases Expire?

In a forever-evolving world, as parents, it is our duty to ensure we are up to date with the best safety information that is out there for us and our children. Many of us are now at the stage where we are recognizing that with a baby comes great responsibility and cost! 

As a mom myself we always want to grab that great bargain or purchase nearly new pre-loved items. But are we risking safety when it comes to buying car seat bases preloved?

Many items of my children’s, once I had finished with them I sold online to help me regain some of the costs so I could buy the next items I needed and it also helped other moms out that couldn’t afford to buy brand new off the shelf.

As we all know having a baby can be an expensive hobby. Babies are not baby’s for long and some things you can find on pre-loved sites are hardly used. 

Beware with car seats and bases you need to take extra care!

Many shops and online forums are selling pre-loved car seats, bases, etc. But how can you be sure that they are still safe? How can you be sure that they haven’t been in a crash?

Typically the average car seat base will expire the same time as the car seat it is matched with but as you can buy these bases as a stand-alone product it may be worth checking the manufacture date. 

It is normal to find that bases can last for up to 6 years until they are deemed unsafe or expired. This is purely down to the forever-changing safety requirements for young children and baby equipment.

Traveling in a car can be dangerous for us as adults so the best protection and safety precautions must be met when it comes to traveling with newborns and young infants. 

What Else Should I Look Out For?

As parents, we should be made aware of the things that can damage our car seats and bases. The following list will provide you with what to look out for when buying a base. 

child in a car seat

Wear and tear

You don’t have to be a genius to understand that a brand new coat will be warmer, thicker, and all-around better than a coat you have had for years. The same thing applies to car seats and their bases.

A brand new base will have stiff rigid mechanisms to help keep the car seat in a place whereas a base that has been used for a while, mechanisms may become slack and therefore less safe if in an accident.

Weather

Now, this may seem to be a strange topic to think of as your base is stationary in your car and wouldn’t get affected by weather damage. But this is a huge misconception by many.

In the summer months, we all hate getting into a hot stuffy car and reach for the air con as soon as we can and in winter months we may have to battle through layers of ice before we can safely drive off.

It is down to these temperature changes that can weaken the plastics of your base. Many materials can expand and shrink when exposed to drastic temperature changes so be sure to check your base in all weathers.

Safety regulations

From one year to the next, safety is a massive topic that gets regularly updated. As time progresses you may find the base you saved from your previous child may not be up to standard any longer.

Therefore it is best for you to buy an updated one. For peace of mind, you should always check with The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for any updates. 

Ever-Changing Technology

Your Baby Hates The Car Seat: 10 Tips To Help

Technology moves on at such a tremendous pace in every area of our lives, so why should car seats be any different. Don’t get me wrong you can safely use an older model car seat and base as long as they have not expired.

But you should be aware that there will come a point when you will be unable to get replacement parts. Besides ensuring that a car seat and its base are always at their safest, an expiration date also ensures that replacement parts are always available.

Popular Brands

As we all know when it comes to buying for a baby there are many different brands out there to choose from. Some include Chicco, Britax, Graco, Baby Trend, and this is just naming a few.

Chicco and Baby Trend car seats and bases expire usually after 6 years. It is important to check the manufacture date usually found on the bottom of the item.

It is also important that you register the warranty on these brands as you will always have the most current up-to-date information for your model. 

The same applies to the Brittax models. Usually lasting for up to 6 years many people have found that car seats used without bases sometimes have a longer shelf life of up to 9 years.

It is important that you check the guidelines against the manufacture date on your seat.

Graco car seats have a shelf life of up to 7 years providing that wear and tear hasn’t damaged the seat in any way. If your brand has a steel reinforced belt these car seats and bases can last up to 10 years.

FAQs

How do I know if my car seat base is expired?

Most car seats expire after 6 years from the date of manufacture. If you are struggling to find an expiration date on your car seat then you could also check the owner’s manual.

But if you are in any doubt then the safest option is to call the manufacturer and check the expiration date.

Does the expiration date on a car seat matter?

There is no government regulation that requires an expiration date on car seats in the US. But the NHTSA does recommend expiration dates as things change very quickly.

Is Target recycling car seats in 2020?

Target was accepting and recycling all types of car seats, including those that are expired or damaged.

The Final Thought

To conclude this article I think it is fairly safe to say that all car seats have an expiration date. It is something that we as parents may overlook when buying pre-loved or keeping items for a sibling.

You may be faced with the battle of “well it was good enough for my other child” unfortunately thinking this way may not always be the best-case scenario especially with the ever-changing health and safety regulations that we live with.

Providing you do your research and know the manufacture dates etc. then buying pre-loved isn’t deemed as dangerous.

Hopefully, this article has given you insight into how important it is to check expiration dates and daily wear and tear on your bases and seats.

Safety is of the utmost importance when traveling with precious cargo and I am sure you will agree with me when I say we only want the best and safest for our children.

Hi, I'm Emma and I'm a mother to 5 beautiful children aged from 1 to 21 years old- life is hectic! I have learned so much along the way, not only from my own children but also through my professional life. In my positions as a Childminder and Teaching Assistant, I have studied Child Development and The Early Years Developing Practice. I wish to share all of this knowledge and help you with your own parenting journey!

Hi, I'm Emma and I'm a mother to 5 beautiful children aged from 1 to 21 years old- life is hectic! I have learned so much along the way, not only from my own children but also through my professional life. In my positions as a Childminder and Teaching Assistant, I have studied Child Development and The Early Years Developing Practice. I wish to share all of this knowledge and help you with your own parenting journey!