Tennessee was the first state to enact child car seat laws in 1978. Every state has child car safety seat laws now, and they make a difference. Car seats reduce the risk of car accident fatalities by 71% in infants and 54% in toddlers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Child car seats have expiration dates, usually six to 10 years after manufacture.
Different car seat brands place information about expiration in different places. Parents may find this information on the back or bottom of car seats or in the instruction manual. They may also check online by searching for the car seat brand and model. Replacing an expired car may help ensure a child’s safety in the event of an accident.
Wear and tear affects older car seats
The main reason manufacturers establish expiration dates is simple wear and tear. In many families, a car seat is one of the most heavily used pieces of baby equipment. Parents constantly adjust, buckle, unbuckle and clean car seats. During hot summer months, car seats may develop small cracks in the plastic from baking in the sun for long periods.
Newer models often have better safety features
Regulations for car seats change over time. Newer car seats may have features and technologies that are better than those in older models. And sometimes, manufacturers discontinue certain car seat models, especially if a safety issue has made a recall necessary. According to Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute, product liability laws may apply to car seats in an accident if there is a defect in the seat design or manufacture, or if the instructions are not adequate to ensure safe use.