Monday, May 11, 2009

You Wouldn't Willingly Risk Your Child's Life, Would You?

I learned something not long ago that I feel is vitally important information and definitely worth sharing in my little corner of Blogland where maybe someone can benefit from learning it too.

Did you know that car seats expire? Yep.

So if you think you are saving money by buying used, you might not be as smart as you assumed.

It seems that the shell of the car seat, made with a plastic material, will break down over time, especially considering the heat it is exposed to while sitting in your sweltering vehicle day in and day out.

How do you know if yours is expired?

Well, some manufacturers are helpful enough to put an expiration date on a label on the seat itself. My first recommendation would be for you to look all over the bottom and sides of your seat and try to find an expiration date. If you cannot find one, you can call the manufacturer for this information, being sure to have the model of seat that you have. You can find the date of manufacture on any seat and this will assist the manufacturer in telling you whether of not your seat is safe.

If you cannot do this, a safe assumption is 6 years after the date of manufacture. Note--not 6 years after you bought it, as it may have sat on a shelf in a store or in a warehouse for a year or so before it came into your household. Always use the date of manufacture.

And if the manufacturer tells you something other than 6 years, it is okay to trust them. Some (very few) will last up to 10 years safely after the DOM, but this MUST be acknowledged by the manufacturer.

So what do you do if your seat is expired? Certainly you must go out and get another that is not expired. Almost as importantly though, you must destroy yours. How? Cut up the harness straps to render them completely unusable, hammer or saw the base in half, or make sure you watch the trash truck crush it.

Is this a ploy to make us buy more car seats? If you think that, just watch this video of a 10-year old Britax car seat. Enough said.

So although you buy those convertible seats and think, "I'll never have to buy another seat again, " you can now reconsider that. You can assume that your child will most likely be 5 years old by the time you reach the expiration date on the seat he/she is riding in if they have been it from infancy.

Also, this is a good reason not to register for larger car seats at a baby shower thinking that this will save you from buying it 4 years down the road.

The fact is, your child's life is more important than any money you can save by reusing an old seat. Keep this in mind the next time you shop for your deals. If you find one that will last long enough to get good use out of it, by all means grab it up, but know that not every deal is as good as it appears.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a well-known (at least in my circle:) thrifty person, but this is one of the areas where we never cut corners. You're absolutely right that you should be very careful purchasing used or old car seats. Another thing to think about is the fact that you also don't know whether a used car seat has been in any accidents, which can also affect their ability to function because of inside structural damage. Most people selling them at a garage sale or such aren't going to bring that up. Our local thrift stores refuse to accept them as donations because of this. A very good informative post Kaye.