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Out-of-date restraints

There are many obvious factors to consider when buying a child car seat.

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Which seat suits your child’s age and size? Which seat fits your car? How well will the seat perform in a crash? And there’s another factor you might have overlooked: when will the seat expire?

The daughter of one of our members bought a new car seat in 2010. She went to sell it in early 2014, but discovered it had reached its expiry date. According to our member, the seat was manufactured in 2006 with an eight-year life span, which means it was middle-aged by the time it left the shop. Now that it’s reached its expiry date, it shouldn’t be used.

All car seats expire. Depending on the manufacturer, the life of a seat is typically 6 to 10 years. Beyond that, wear and tear can affect the performance of components such as the seat’s plastic frame. There’s also a chance older seats won’t meet updated safety standards.

Identifying a seat’s age

  • Seats with a life span less than 10 years often have an expiry date on the frame; others only display the manufacture date.
  • If a seat doesn’t have an expiry date, don’t use it beyond its 10th birthday.
  • The date of manufacture is often on a label stuck to the frame. If you can’t find the label, look for an embossed clock dial. The numbers on the outside of the dial represent months, with an arrow pointing to the month of manufacture. The number in the centre of the dial is the year of manufacture.

Tip: A seat’s date of manufacturer isn’t always displayed in an obvious location. You might have to dig below the seat’s covers or flip the seat upside down to find it.

We say

  • Before you buy a child car seat, check for an expiry date or date of manufacture. Don’t use a seat that’s passed its expiry date or is more than 10 years old.
  • Regardless of the seat’s age, don’t use it if there are obvious signs of wear and tear – or if it’s been involved in a crash.