How Long Do Car Seats Last?

Most car seats come with an expiration date, which is usually between five and nine years after they were manufactured. The expiration date is not the only thing that may limit a car seat’s lifespan, however. If a car seat is involved in a crash or sustains damage to the structure in any way, it should be retired.

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Stay Sensitive to Car Seat Age

Be sure to read the owners manual that came with your car seat to find out the expiration date. You should also be able to find it imprinted on the car seat, molded into the body, or included on labels along with other safety information. Car seats are given an expiration date to alert parents that the seat may be worn down or out of date after advances in safety standards and technology.

Expired car seats need to be thrown out—never donate or loan an old car seat.

Another factor that can contribute to the longevity of a car seat is the types of materials used in construction. Some materials are more durable and can better withstand a crash. In addition, the design and method of installation can have an impact on how long a car seat will last. All of these factors contribute to the expiration date and should be kept in mind when reviewing a car seat for wear and tear.

Retire Seats After Car Accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that car seats should be retired after a moderate to severe crash.1 An accident can be considered minor—and therefore may not require car seat replacement—if all the following factors are true:

  • The airbags did not deploy.
  • The car did not sustain any visible damage and was able to drive away from the accident.
  • The passengers were not injured.

After an accident, and at least once per year, you should have your car seat inspected to make sure it is still safe for your child and there are no missing parts or structural compromises. You should also register your car seat after purchase to be informed if the seat is subject to any recalls.

If you don’t yet have a car seat or are looking to purchase a new one after retiring an older model, check out our handy buyers guide for car seats and booster seats.

Compare the best baby safety products

Standout feature
Best car seat
Graco 4Ever DLX 4 in 1 Car SeatGraco 4Ever 4 in 1 Car Seat
120-pound weight limit 10 different harness and headrest positions
Best baby crib
Davinci 4-in-1 Convertible Crib
GREENGUARD Gold Certified Four adjustable mattress positions
Best baby monitor
Infant Optics Baby MonitorInfant Optics Baby Monitor
700 ft. rangeHigh-quality night vision + two-way talk
Best nanny cam
Wyze Cam PanWyze Cam Pan
360° field of vision1080p resolution + up to 30 ft. night vision
Best baby-proofing locks
Baby Safety Cabinet LocksWappa Child Safety Locks
3M strong adhesiveUse on cabinets, refrigerators, and toilets

* price as of 4/8/2021 at 9:10 a.m. (MT). Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. utilizes paid Amazon links.


Celeste Tholen
Written by
Celeste Tholen
Celeste has dedicated her decade-long career to reporting and reviews that help people make well-informed decisions. She oversees editorial strategy and production for SafeWise, with a goal to help people find the information they need to make their homes and lives safer. Prior to SafeWise, she worked as an editor and reporter for KSL and Deseret News. She continues to report on local news as a volunteer with the community paper. For the last six years, she’s led a Girl Scout troop, teaching girls about safety and preparing for whatever life throws their way.

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