Does My Car Seat Expire? Do I Really Need to Buy a New One?

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Car Seat Expiration Questions Answered, Plus a Used Car Seat Check List

Question: Can I Use My Expired Car Seat?

Answer: “NO.”  Always follow manufacturer instructions, including expiration dates.  Only the manufacturer of your car seat can advise you to do something other than what is printed on your car seat labels or instruction manual.

There are many reasons that manufacturers have expiration dates for car seats:

  • Plastics and materials weaken with age from prolonged exposure to light, oxygen, humidity, extreme heat, temperature cycles or even vibration
  • Damage like cracks and stress marks can result from drops or crashes
  • Parts can go missing, including essential ones for switching modes
  • Spills, cleaners & oxidation can damage harness and adjustment mechanisms
  • Labels peel and wear, making it more difficult to find limits, instructions, model number information to check for recalls and if the seat was actually certified for use in your country
  • Manufacturers want to sell you a safer new seat with the latest technology

It’s that last reason that leads some caregivers to believe in conspiracy theories.  Are all the manufacturers and retailers colluding with each other to fill our landfills with perfectly good car seats just to profit by selling you a new one?

Car seat manufacturers are, after all, for-profit companies.  They do want to make money.  They also genuinely want to keep your kids safe and, of course, avoid lawsuits.  Some shorter expiration dates seem overly conservative even to me.  Many are now a very reasonable 8-10 years.  Consider that there is simply no way for a manufacturer to know what conditions or abuse a car seat may endure in one year, let alone six years!  Yes, individual parts of a car seat may well last much longer than 10 years, but the question is how long will ALL the parts together protect a child in a crash?  While it’s obvious that they don’t last forever, how long a car seat is usable depends mostly upon the owner.

Consider a rear-facing-only infant seat that was manufactured 6 years ago.  Perhaps it sat on the shelf and was sold a year later, being gently used with baby for about a year; then it was stored away in a cool, dry basement for 4 years.  Now, baby #2 is on the way but the seat just expired.  Must it really be thrown away or recycled, if car seat recycling is even available in your area?  Despite the light use, we must officially advise that you still follow the manufacturer’s instructions or contact the manufacturer for guidance.

But what if?

  1. If you are the only owner or trust the previous owner(s) with the life of your baby
  2. If the seat is in good working condition with minimal wear and no loose parts
  3. If the seat was never in a crash, dropped or otherwise damaged
  4. If cleaners and solvents were never used on the harness system
  5. If all parts are present and working correctly
  6. If the manual and labels are all present
  7. If the seat was approved for use in your country
  8. If there were no recalls (or any recalls were resolved)
  9. If the seat was unused in a box at a retailer or stored properly for a long time
  10. If you are also convinced it will protect your baby in a crash

That’s a lot of “ifs“, and they may also apply as a used car seat checklist if you are considering a secondhand car seat. 

It’s simply impossible for a manufacturer, a certified child passenger safety technician, journalist or online advocate to say if your own car seat or a used car seat meets all these “ifs.”  We all advocate for what is safest for your child and there are just too many unknowns with an older car seat that is owned by someone else.  Only the owner can decide if all these apply and if they are willing to take that risk

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Chicco Fit4 All-in-One Review – Safety & Fit 4 Different Stages!

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Chicco has a solid reputation for making carseats that are safe, easy to use and exceptionally easy to install. I’m happy to report that they continue this legacy with their newest seat, Chicco Fit4, an All-in-One that’s full of the thoughtful details and ease-of-use features that you’ve come to expect from Chicco!

Fit4 is shipping to retailers in December and should be widely available in January. Amazon, Target, BuyBuyBaby and baby specialty stores should all have Fit4 in stock at some point in January. MSRP will be $349.99. The sample that I have is in the “Element” fashion. There will be a total of six Fit4 fashions to choose from and you can see them all here on the Chicco website.

You’re probably wondering what makes Fit4 stand out in a crowded field of All-in-One carseats? For starters, the 4-stage “FitKit” system features a series of inserts that provide optimal fit and comfort for each stage of your child’s growth and development. From infant to toddler to preschooler to big kid, Fit4 offers your child optimal comfort and protection as they grow.

The next major advantage of Fit4 is longevity – this seat is TALL which means more growing room before your kids outgrow it!  Last but not least, the SuperCinch force-multiplying system makes it possible for anyone, even an elderly caregiver, to get a rock-solid installation using LATCH.

 

Chicco Fit4 Specs & Features:

  • Rear-Facing: 4-40 lbs., up to 43″ tall
  • Forward-Facing: 25-65 lbs.; 54″ or less; at least 1 year old
  • Booster: 40-100 lbs., 38-57″, at least 4 years old
  • 10-year lifespan before expiration
  • “FITKIT” System – a series of inserts that provide optimal fit for each stage
  • SuperCinch LATCH tightening system with premium push-on LATCH connectors
  • No-rethread harness (10 height positions)
  • 2 crotch strap/buckle positions
  • 2-position chest clip
  • Lockoffs for rear-facing and forward-facing installations with seatbelt
  • 9 recline positions
  • Liquid bubble level indicator (for RF, FF & Booster mode)
  • Harness, chest clip and buckle all store in the shell for booster mode
  • Steel-reinforced frame
  • Energy-absorbing EPS foam lines the sides and the headwings
  • Smooth bottom base with won’t damage vehicle upholstery
  • Flexible “CupFolders” are removable and dishwasher safe
  • Machine washable fabrics
  • QR code that links to instructions for the 4 stages
  • MSRP $349.99


Fit4 Stages:

Infant: Rear-facing 4-16 lbs.

Toddler: Rear-facing 12-40 lbs. (remove the Stage 1 infant insert)

Preschooler: Forward-facing 25-65 lbs. (remove the Stage 2 inserts which are only for rear-facing)

Big Kid: Booster mode 40-100 lbs. and at least 4 years old (store the harness and the buckle, put the shoulder belt pad on the seatbelt).

Fit4 Measurements:

  • Lowest harness height setting: 6.5″ with Stage 1 insert (measuring is subjective); 8″ without insert
  • Tallest harness height setting: 18.5″ – 19″ (depending on how you measure)
  • Shoulder belt guide max height (for booster mode): 21″
  • Crotch strap positions: 4″, 6″
  • Seat pan depth (legroom/thigh support): 14.5″
  • Seat width at widest point: 19″
  • Weight: 25 lbs.

Installation Comments:

November & Black Friday 2019 Carseat, Stroller and Baby Gear Deals, Sales & Coupon Codes

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DEALS TRACKER: We find the best deals for November & BLACK FRIDAY 2019 on car seats, strollers & baby gear. Bookmark this deals page and check back frequently for the latest bargains and promo code offers, so you find them here first before they sell out!

We’re the baby gear deal experts so we know where the really good deals are, on the stuff consumers actually want to buy. We scour Amazon and other retailers to find the best bargains. We don’t just rely on automated tools and other deals pages, so we find the best deals for you first. This is the resource other deal pages use to find deals so please feel free to share* our links !

Have you considered an Amazon baby registry? What do you get when you register? A free gift box valued at $35, a 90-day return policy for most items purchased from your registry, group gifting so multiple people can contribute to gifts, and more. Check it out!

What you need to know about Amazon pricing: it’s FICKLE. When a product’s price is reduced we rarely know how long it will remain at that price. Sometimes it’s a few days, sometimes it’s a few hours. The best advice we can offer you is to ACT QUICKLY if you see a great deal on something you really need or just seriously want. Just adding something to your cart does not guarantee you that item at that price – you must complete the checkout process to seal the deal. Most items on our list offer FREE SHIPPING & FREE RETURNS to Prime members but always double check this before you put the item in your cart and checkout. Not a Prime member*? There’s a 30-day FREE trial. It’s a no-brainer! Try it out and score some great deals. You can always cancel before the 30 days is up if you’re not sold on the many benefits of an Amazon Prime membership.

*Veterans and Active Duty Military Members are eligible for a discounted rate of $79 (regularly $119) for a year of Prime membership. Promotion valid November 6-11 only.

Looking for more info on a certain carseat or booster? Check out our REVIEWS page. We have in-depth reviews of over 100 carseats and boosters. Prefer to shop at other stores? If you received great advice from us or discovered a good deal here and share it with friends, please mention us and share* our links to AmazonAlbee BabyTarget.com, Walmart.com, Kohl’s, and BuyBuyBaby.

This post and others at CarseatBlog contain affiliate links. Please read About CarseatBlog for our affiliate policy and see our Marketing Disclosure.

Select Editors’ Picks:

These carseats are among our Editor’s Picks and are reader favorites, too!

 

Chicco KeyFit30  

Infant (Rear-Facing Only) Car Seat Deals:

Indicates a CarseatBlog Recommended Carseat 

Britax B-Safe 35 in all fashions for $199.99

Britax B-Safe Ultra in most fashions for $239.99 

Britax Endeavours in “Circa” for $289.99

Chicco KeyFit 30 in most fashions for $199.99 

Chicco Keyfit 30 Zip in “Eclipse” for $169.99  No Free Returns

Chicco Keyfit 30 Zip in “Minerale” or “Serene” for $229.99 with free $50 Gift Card

Chicco Fit2 Infant & Toddler in “Fleur” for $239.00  20% Off LOW STOCK

Evenflo LiteMax DLX (with load leg) in “Meteorite” for $119.99  30% Off

Gracobaby.com 20% Off One Item, 25% Off Two or More Items – Use Code SPENDSAVE

Graco SnugRide SnugLock LX with 1-hand adjust in “Pierce”  for $104.54  39% Off 

Graco SnugRide SnugLock LX with 1-hand adjust in “Tansy” for $116.37  30% Off Plus $2.34 Coupon

Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Elite in “Oakley” for $129.99  41% Off  

Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 LX in “Jacks” for $99.99 50% Off

Graco SnugRide SnugLock 30 in “Gotham” for $111.99 20% OFF

Graco SnugRide SnugLock *Extra Base* for $27.19 55% Off 

 

Britax Boulevard CT - splash Graco 4Ever -azalea

Convertible & All-in-One Deals:

New York Rear-Facing Until 2 Law Effective Nov 1, 2019

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Effective today, November 1, 2019, New York joins 11 other states (including neighboring NJ, PA & CT) in legislating that children should ride in a rear-facing carseat until they are at least 24 months old. A rear-facing carseat provides the best protection for a young child. In a crash, a rear-facing seat helps to protect the fragile head, neck and spinal cord.

It is important for families to understand that there are 3 types of rear-facing car seats: Infant Seats, Convertible Seats, and All-in-One Seats. Most parents in the Northeast choose to use an infant car seat first although it’s also possible to skip the infant seat and use a convertible or all-in-one seat right from the start. When the infant car seat is outgrown (usually by height somewhere between 9-15 months), it is recommended that a larger convertible or all-in-one car seat with higher rear-facing weight and height limits be used. These seats should be installed in the rear-facing position until, at a minimum, the child reaches their 2nd birthday. The AAP and NHTSA recommend that children continue to use a rear-facing carseat until reaching the weight or height limit of the seat.

Rear-Facing Car Seat Types:

Infant Car Seat (Rear-Facing Only): Designed for babies, the infant carseat is a small, portable seat with a handle and a separate base. Infant seats can only be installed rear-facing. Babies often outgrow their infant carseat by height before their 1st birthday. Before the infant seat is outgrown, it is recommended that parents choose a convertible or all-in-one car seat and use it rear-facing until the child is at least 2 years old.  

Infant Seat: Rear-Facing Only

Convertible Car Seat: Designed for babies, toddlers, and preschool-age children. This type of seat is larger than the infant seat so it allows babies and toddlers to stay rear-facing until age 2, and beyond. A convertible seat can be used rear-facing first and then turned forward-facing once the child is older. 

Convertible: Rear-Facing & Forward-Facing

All-in-One Car Seat: Designed for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and older children. This type of seat is larger than the infant car seat and can be used rear-facing, forward-facing and eventually as a booster. 

All-in-One Seat: Rear-Facing, Forward-Facing & Booster

NY Law Exemptions:

There are exceptions for children who outgrow a rear-facing seat by height or weight before 24 months. Should an exemption occur, that child may ride in an APPROPRIATE forward-facing seat (i.e., child meets manufacturer’s forward-facing requirements for age, weight & height). 

Full text of the New York’s V&T Law regarding the use of child restraints can be found here: https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/VAT/1229-C