A parent’s priority is always their child’s safety and well-being. Every responsible parent knows the importance of ensuring their children are properly buckled up and that their youngest are snug and secure in their car seats when riding a car.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “car seat use reduces the risk for injury in crashes by 71–82% for children, compared with seat belt use alone.”
It is a well-known fact that car seats expire and need to be replaced upon damage. However, not much time is dedicated to talking about car seat bases. What are car seat bases? Do they expire?
The quick answer is yes, they do expire!
What Is a Car Seat Base?
A car seat base is an attachment you hook up to your car via a seat belt or your car’s latch system. It is a semi-permanent device, meaning it does not need to be removed constantly, that allows you to simply snap your baby’s car seat in place with much ease.
Instead of struggling to hook and unhook your baby’s car seat directly to your car’s latch system or seat belt while out in the heat or rain or while you are in a hurry, you simply secure the car seat to the already attached base.
Car seat bases can be purchased along with a car seat or can be acquired separately. Like car seats, car seat bases typically expire six years from the date of manufacture.
An additional benefit of car seat bases is that most of them have indicators that show whether a car seat has latched correctly to the base.
It is important to ensure the base is correctly and securely installed. Since car seat bases don’t have to be removed regularly, improper installation can be dangerous for your child as their car seat will not attach correctly.
How to Check for Expiration Date
Most car seats have a sticker on their side with a serial number, a manufacturing date, and an expiration date. If the car seat and the car seat base were purchased together, then the information applies to both.
However, if the base is purchased separately, then you should be able to find a sticker on the base’s side or underneath it in the center.
If the product’s sticker or label is nowhere to be found, then locate the user’s manual and find the Useful Life and Manufacture Date of the product. Then, add the Useful Life to the Manufacture Date and you’ll have the expiration date.
Car Seat Base Facts
Although it may not be visibly obvious, temperature extremes may have a significant impact on the car seat base. The plastic may expand and contract, rendering the device weak and brittle.
Therefore, it is important to inspect the car seat base regularly.
Wear and Tear
A car seat will snap easily onto a new car seat base. However, repeated latching and unlatching will cause the springs to wear out.
Additionally, toys and food items may get stuck into the latching mechanism, jamming them over time. The result will be a base that is unable to latch properly to the car seat. If this goes unnoticed, the car seat may become detached during an accident.
It is important to remain vigilant and inspect the latching system regularly for any possible obstruction.
It seems that safety regulations are always getting updated. This is done for the safety of the consumer. If an update or change happens, it may be best to buy a new car seat/car seat base for your peace of mind, especially if the device has expired or will be expiring soon.
Be sure to check your local department of transportation, such as the NHTSA, for additional safety information.
Changes in Technology
Technology seems to be changing at a faster pace every day in every area of our lives. Try to stay up to date on the changing car seat technology.
Oftentimes, you may want to save an unexpired product for later use, whether it is for a future child or a family member. However, with technology changing at such a rapid pace, you may find yourself with a product the manufacturer may no longer supply parts for.
Always stay informed and up-to-date with any potential updates for your product.
Do not skip completing and submitting the product’s warranty. Register your product with your contact information. Ensure it is accurate so you may be contacted with any safety recalls or updates.
It is not a good idea to sell or buy used car seats and car seat bases since you may never know the conditions under which they were kept or if the items might have been in a car accident. Oftentimes, such damage is not readily visible.
If you have an unexpired car seat or car seat base that’s in good condition, it is best to keep it in the family or pass it down to a friend.
Expired products should be recycled, never sold or gifted. Contact your local recycling facility for information on recycling car seats and car seat bases. Hospitals and fire departments may often have a recycling program for such baby items.
If all else fails, contact the manufacturer for recycling assistance.
Additionally, do not purchase after-market products for your car seat or car seat base. Such products have not been tested or approved by the manufacturer and may pose a serious hazard to your baby. In some cases, replacement items such as fabric coverings may lead your baby to slip out of the straps.
When in doubt, it is best to replace the entire item. Your child’s safety is a priority.
Keeping your child safe is a parent’s highest priority. The use of car seats when traveling with young children ensures their safety. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to inspect the car seat and car seat base regularly and to be mindful of their expiration dates, safety recalls, and any other updates that may be available to keep your children safe.