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Is car seat expiration just a marketing ploy? Nope.

Here's why, and how to tell if your car seat is up to par with the latest safety standards.

The Facts About Car Seat Expiration

Question: Can you explain what a car seat expiration date is all about? Do they really expire, or is that a ploy from manufacturers to make more money?

Answer: Car seats expire. They really do. And no, they won't suddenly grow mold like that forgotten tuna sandwich in the fridge or self-destruct like a gadget from an indulgent spy movie.

Ploy or Necessary Safety Precaution?

Car seats expire with good reason.

It isn't just about the manufacturer's bottom dollar, it's about keeping your baby safe. That's a fact to which the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) wholeheartedly agrees, and paying attention to expiration dates are definitely among their top recommendations for car seat use.

There are several valid reasons why you need to stop using the car seat once it passes the expiration date.

  • Technology Improves and Standards Change. An older car seat passed down from friends and family might look like it's in great condition but it may not be utilizing newer lifesaving technologies and safety standards. A good example: In 2002, car seats were not even equipped with Lower Anchor and Tethers for Children (LATCH). Now, however, they are a standard feature in nearly all car seats. Expiration dates ensure that seats being used are current and up to snuff.
  • Materials Wear Down. Car seats were not made to last forever. Over time, the seat base can develop hairline fractures which may shatter in a car crash, and belts can become slightly elastic after years of use. And you likely won't be able to see the breakdown with the naked eye. Crash test videos provide a chilling example of how these materials can fail in a devastating manner
  • Only Tested for a Certain Period. After a certain amount of time, manufacturers do not test seats. So they can't attest to how older seats will perform in an accident.

Where to Find the Expiration Date

Most car seats have the date of expiration stamped on the manufacturer labels located on the sides or the base of the car seat.

Alternatively, it might show the date of manufacture. If that's the case, generally the car seat will expire six years after the date of manufacture. Only a few seats may be good for a few years longer than that. This aspect of car seat expiration is one strong reason not to buy used car seats.

Date of Manufacture vs. Date of Purchase

A tip when buying a car seat, remember that the clock starts ticking from the date of manufacture, not the date of purchase. If you find a great deal on a car seat because it is the previous year's model, understand that it has a shortened life compared to the newest release.

Does Price Matter?

Don't be deceived that a more expensive seat will have a longer lifespan. That's not the case. All seats sold in the U.S. must meet current car seat standards. You can purchase several excellent car seats for less.

Don't forget: Register your car seats and update the manufacturer with your most recent contact information. Curious about car seat laws by state? Alphabetical listings: Alabama - Hawaii | Idaho - Montana | Nebraska - Oregon | Pennsylvania - Wyoming

The above is a reprint from the VeryWell website, originally published on July 23, 2016, written by Jennifer White and reviewed by a board certified physician.

About HKQ Law

HKQ Law is considered one of the top civil litigation and commercial law firms in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Nine attorneys at HKQ Law were recently named to the 2019 Best Lawyers List and has been designated a Tier 1 Best Law Firm for personal injury, medical malpractice litigation labor law and corporate law in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. The firm’s Personal Injury Team, led by Attorney Joe Quinn, has won some of the largest verdicts and settlements in the region's history on behalf of injured clients. The firm was also recently recognized for one of the top 20 Verdicts in Pennsylvania.

The Personal Injury Team focuses on a wide array of personal injury claims and civil litigation, including medical malpractice, auto and truck accidents, aviation accidents, unsafe vehicles, dangerous or defective products, workplace injuries (worker's compensation), construction site accidents, claim denials by insurance companies, dangerous drugs, defective children's products, nursing home abuse and neglect, and falls due to unsafe conditions (slip and fall).

Attorney Joseph A. Quinn is one of only 100 attorneys in the United States (and one of only three in Pennsylvania) honored with membership in the Inner Circle of Trial Advocates, and one of only 500 attorneys worldwide chosen to be a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He has been a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer every year since the program began and has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America every year since the publication was established in 1987. Best Lawyers also named him top personal injury attorney for Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.

Since the inception of the firm, the Commercial / Corporate Team led by Attorney Allan Kluger has provided comprehensive, integrated legal services to many of Northeastern and Eastern Pennsylvania's largest corporations, businesses, banks, non-profits and institutions, handling matters involving labor and employment, wills, trusts and estate planning, estate administration, elder law, commercial transactions, residential and commercial real estate, zoning, land use and development, telecommunications, mediations and arbitrations, commercial litigation, title insurance, business planning and business succession, corporate/business structuring, employment discrimination law for employers, banking, creditor’s rights, finance, lender liability defense, covenants not to compete, construction law, mergers and acquisitions and other business matters.

Additional information can be found at or by calling (800) 760-1529.



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