I’ve been running this site and writing about baby gear for longer than I care to remember, and the issue of car seat expiration dates is easily one of the most confusing.
And it’s not a naive affair…it’s a real problem because over 70% of baby restraints are misused in some way (1).
Yes, you read that right…it’s mind-boggling.
It’s a massive problem, but we can only tackle it one step at a time.
Today, I’m going down a narrow rabbit hole and addressing the expiration dates of a single brand – Britax.
This is what I’ll cover:
- What does the expiration date mean?
- Where do you find the date on a Britax car seat?
- Britax seat types, most popular models, and their respective expiration dates (Pavillion, Marathon, One4Life, Grow with You, Allegiance, etc.)
- What to do with an expired car seat
Britax infant car seat types and their expiration dates
What’s the expiration date of car seats, and why is it there?
The expiration date of a car seat is typically in the range of 6 to 10 years from the manufacturing date.
Simply put, it’s a way for car seat manufacturers to convey when the car seat might become unsafe.
The primary reason for its existence is the wear and tear of the materials. Other, less common reasons why a car seat might expire include recalls and changes in safety regulation.
Expiration dates of Britax infant car seats (rough guidelines)
Let’s get specific and talk about Britax infant car seats.
Guidelines for Britax car seats made in or after June 2010:
- 6 years for infant car seats and belt-positioning booster seats
- 7 years for most convertible car seats
- 10 years for the convertible seats from the ClickTight series
Exceptions – car seat expiration date for units made through June 2010:
- 6 years for the Britax infant car seats and bases (including belt-positioning booster seats and child/older infant seats)
- 9 years for the Frontier Harness-2-Booster seats (made from 2008 to 2010)
Where is the Britax seat expiration date?
The expiration date of a Britax car seat is on the label (under the seat cover or on the side of the seat) and on the base.
Popular Britax car seats and their expiration dates
Below is a rundown of some more popular Britax models with expiration dates.
Infant seats from Britax
|Britax infant seat||Expiration date (years after the date of manufacture)|
|B-Safe Gen2 Flexfit||6|
|B-Safe 35 Elite||6|
Britax booster seats
|Britax booster seat||Expiration date (years after the date of manufacture)|
|Frontier ClickTight booster seat||9|
|Essentials Skyline booster seat||10|
|Highpoint booster seat||10|
|Grow With You||9|
Convertible car seats in the Britax fleet
Most convertible seats made by Britax expire seven to ten years from the manufacture date.
Below is a list of some of the more popular convertible models:
|Britax convertible seat||Expiration date (years after the date of manufacture)|
|Advocate ClickTight ARB||10|
|One4Life ClickTight All-in-One||10|
Numbers tell a story beyond the expiration
The expiration dates of a convertible car seat hold answers that go beyond the numbers and into the very nature of why seats expire.
If it were about the time spent in use, a convertible car seat would expire sooner than your average infant car seat. It’s used way more and takes more ‘abuse.’
But it’s not about that – it’s about the natural lifespan of the materials.
You probably have at least one pair of shoes that “expired” from not being worn. The soles start to crumble after 5 or 6 years, whether you wear them or not.
That’s the case with some of the materials used to make an infant car seat.
OK, a car seat might not crumble, but the plastic becomes brittle and would not handle the crash forces as well.
Why does plastic become brittle?
It happens because sunlight reacts with the carbon in the plastic polymer and slowly breaks it down. As that happens, plastic loses some of its properties.
With a bowl or a plate, it’s not a big deal. But with an expired car seat, it’s literally a matter of life and death.
It’s hard to hear, I know…but it’s true.
Can you prolong the life of your seat?
Not really, no.
You might delay the deterioration by limiting sun and heat exposure, but that only applies t making sure your new car seat doesn’t give in before it expires.
Once it hits that 6 or 7 years, retire it.
How can they be so exact with the car seat’s expiration date?
(“they” being the car seat manufacturers)
It’s not public knowledge, but my best guess is through crash tests. Most of the stuff that gets into the safety regulations is based on crash testing.
And no, it’s not a way for the industry to make more money by stopping you from buying a used car seat. I’d be the first one to point fingers if I know of any shady business.
Getting rid of an expired Britax car seat
As per their recommendation, discard an expired Britax car seat follow these steps:
- Remove all the webbing by cutting it off
- Cut the cover of the seat
- Blackout the serial number and the manufacturing date
- Mark the seat clearly before discarding. Something like “Trash, do not use” will do.
Resume and critical takeaways about expired car seats
An expired car seat might “feel” fine in hand…but it’s not fine, far from it.
The plastic has already played its role, taken its sweet time reacting with the UV rays from the sunlight, and WILL NOT perform in a crash.
An expired car seat is trash, including Britax.