For many people, finding out that car seats have expiration dates is a shocker. This is news for new parents and very experienced parents alike, as car seats did not have expiration dates even less than a decade ago. Most, if not all, recently manufactured car seats have expiration dates embossed on the bottom of them; many older car seats have no indication of an expiration date.
One thing that all car seats, new or old, should have on them (generally on a sticker attached to the side or bottom), is a manufacturing date. The rule of thumb given by most car seat manufacturers is that the car seat expires six (6) years from the manufactured date on the car seat. Some car seats can expire sooner, but six (6) years from the manufacturing date is the maximum length of time for a car seat to be used if you are not sure of the expiration date. If you cannot find a manufacturing date on the car seat, look for a model number and call the company to get more information.
It is especially important for Las Vegas residents to pay attention to these expiration dates. Expiration dates are placed on car seats not only because of constantly updated regulations, but because of the change in the materials (particularly the plastic) over time. With the constant dry heat that is most often present in Las Vegas and surrounding areas, the plastic can be dry and brittle, have unseen cracks and weak points, and snap easily in even the smallest of car accidents. In weather conditions like these, car seats should not even be pushed to the limit of their expiration dates.
The safety of the children riding in these car seats is most important, so all expired car seats should be disposed of and made unusable right away. Do not simply put the expired car seat on the side of the road or in the dumpster for garbage pick-up; it is likely that somebody else will pick it up and try to use it. If possible, cut the harnesses, break pieces of it, dispose of pieces separately, etc. so that nobody else will find taking the car seat “worth it”.