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Are you wondering if booster car seats expire? The short answer is Yes, booster seats do expire. Booster seat expires just like the conventional toddler car seats do.

However, currently, there is no government regulation in the United States that enforces that. In other words, car seat manufacturers decide on the appropriate car seat expiry date for each model based on a set of general guidelines.

By so doing, the manufacturers are able to guarantee that the seats will offer optimal protection before their expiry dates. Depending on the brand and model of the booster car seat you have, the expiry period varies significantly, often between six and 10 years. 

Car seats that feature reinforced frames are more durable and can last up to 10 years. Throughout this guide, you will learn why booster car seats have expiry dates and what you should do with them after they have expired. 

What is the Lifespan of a Booster Car Seat?

The Lifespan of a booster car seat is the period between when it was manufactured and when it will expire. Different booster car seat models have different lifespans. The Lifespan of any given booster seat mainly depends on its construction materials.

Booster car seats that are made of reinforced frames are known to last longer, up to 10 years, provided that they are not recalled or involved in an accident. Most of the leading booster car seat brands last for five to seven years. 

To know the exact Lifespan of your preferred booster car seat, refer to its user manual. Other brands also include the expiry date on the manufacturer’s label, which is attached on either side of the seat or at its back. 

Why Does a Booster Car Seat Expire?

Booster car seat expiry is exclusively imposed for safety reasons. The booster car seat you have will expire for a number of reasons, including wear, and tear, replacement and decals, as discussed below:

Wear and Tear 

A considerable part of toddler and booster car seats is made of plastic, a material that degrades with time. The degradation of plastic is further accelerated by extreme temperatures, which may affect its structural integrity over time. 

Since these seats spend a considerable portion of their Lifespan inside a vehicle, they are exposed to extreme temperatures fluctuations, normally between  -50°F to 140°F. This being the case, a six-year-old booster seat will be easier to break than a new one in the event of an accident. 

In order to guarantee the performance of their products, manufacturers set expiry dates on their booster car seats. 

Improvement In Safety Features 

Technological improvements in the safety features of a booster car seat can render your booster seat worthless. For instance, a 7-year booster may appear to be in good condition but is not consistent with the current safety technologies like energy-absorbing foam. 

Replacements and Recalls 

You need to keep up with any manufacturer recalls on your booster seat model. Failing to do so will render the product not as safe as it should. In order to keep an accurate track of recalls on your booster seat model, it is advisable to register the seat with the manufacturer. 

By so doing, you will be notified every time there is a recall on your booster car seat model. If there is a recall on your booster car seat and you fail to take it back for the replacement or correction, the seat is considered to be expired. 

How Do You Know When The Seat Expires? 

There are several ways you can tell when your car seat has expired. Note that, each booster car seat has its own expiry date. If you own multiple car seats, you need to check each of them individually for their expiry dates. 

Most of the leading car seats have the expiry date imprinted somewhere on the seat, often on its sides or at the back. If you cannot find the expiry date imprinted in the product, you should check its owner’s manual. The manual will reveal the useful life of your car seat. 

You should also check to see when the month and date the seat was manufactured, and when you should stop using the seat. If you are in doubt or don’t find the information in the manual, you should just give the manufacturer a call. When calling the manufacturer, you should have the model number of the seat. 

Is it Safe to Reuse a Booster Car Seat?

If your child outgrows the booster car seat and it still has all parts intact, has not expired or been recalled, you may reuse it on another child or pass it on. If the seat is damaged in any way or has been involved in an accident, it is not reusable. 

Again, it is not advisable to buy used car seats online or otherwise. If you purchase a used car seat, you will not have a way of telling whether it has expired, or involved in an accident. 

What to Do with an Expired Car Seat 

When your booster car seat has expired, you need to dispose of it in such a way that nobody will try to reuse it. There are a few stores, such as Walmart, and Target, that offer annual trade-in events. Such events allow you to trade in an expired car seat for  shopping coupon or gift card. 

Only a few recycling centers accept expired car seats, check recycleyourcarseat.org to see if there is a recycling location near you that accepts car seats. If you intend to throw the seat out, there are a few things you should prevent another person from using the expired seat. 

Before throwing an expired booster car seat out, you need to do the following:

  • Cut off the seat fabric, safety harness straps, and foam padding using a pair of scissors, and remove the cover as well as any padding beneath. You should also use a screwdriver to remove as much metal parts as you can.
  • Throw the unrecyclable bits like fabric, straps, and small plastic or metal pieces away
  • Using a permanent marker, mark the remaining plastic unsafe and cross out the expiration date. The plastic body of the seat and metal parts may be recycled. 

Final Words 

Beyond the expiry date, a booster car seat becomes compromised and will not offer as much protection to your child as it should. Depending on the construction and materials used to make a car seat, different models have different lifespans. 

Check the expiry date of your booster case on its sides, or back or in the owner’s manual. This is the only way the manufacturers can guarantee optimal protection for your child whole using a booster car seat.