All the relevant guidance suggests that you shouldn't buy or otherwise receive second-hand car seats... partly because you don't know if they've been in an accident or not. That's fine, and makes a lot of sense... but we're about to grow out of two car seats. We know they haven't been in any accidents, but I don't know what to do with them. I won't be able to Freecycle or eBay them due to the guidance, obviously. (Or at least, I would feel bad doing so, knowing that I was encouraging someone else to go against best practice.)

Is it reasonable to pass them on to friends who trust us though, and who know we haven't had any accidents? Do car seats inherently become weaker after a few years, as they're only expected to be needed for a certain length of time?

I feel really bad about just throwing away something which at least appears to be in good working order, knowing full well that it hasn't been involved in any collisions.

Any advice?

asked 19 Oct '09, 06:26

Jon%20Skeet's gravatar image

Jon Skeet
accept rate: 35%

Is there an expiry date on care seats in the US?

(19 Oct '09, 16:58) Mark

Yes there are expiration dates on car seats in the US. 5 years I think.

(19 Oct '09, 21:41) Sabrina

5 - 6 years. Some have a date printed on them that you should go by. Don't assume that just because you bought it this year it will be good 5 years from now. It could have been made a year ago and sat in a warehouse or on a store shelf all this time.

(23 Oct '09, 02:21) mkcoehoorn

Here's the explanation I was given once as to why car seats "expire" in 6 years. Car seats are made primarily of plastic. They sit in your car (generally) year round. In the winter, the plastic contracts in the cold and in the summer it expands in the heat. The idea is that 6 years of expanding and contracting plastic weakens the integrity of the carseat frame, and therefore, even though it LOOKS like it's in perfectly good condition and hasn't been in an accident, if it IS in an accident, the plastic won't be sturdy enough to provide the intended level of protection.

If you are disposing of a carseat by leaving it out for garbage pickup, or otherwise leaving it somewhere where it could conceivably be picked up by someone intending to use it, the recommendation is that you cut the restraint straps so it is NOT usable by anyone else.

All that being said, we have both received and given car seats that were not yet "expired" and not in accidents and I don't see anything wrong with that.


answered 19 Oct '09, 13:08

erin's gravatar image

accept rate: 31%

Thanks for that - these car seats have only been in use for a couple of years, so there's plenty of use left in them.

(19 Oct '09, 13:22) Jon Skeet

Sometimes they will have a sticker or something saying not to use past a certain date. There's also the issue of car seat regulations changing periodically and even though it was okay for you, something may have changed where it won't be okay by the time your friend uses it.

(23 Oct '09, 02:17) mkcoehoorn

I give them to friends who need them. I would never buy a used one, so I will not try to sell them.

As a receiver I have 'accepted' one from a friend I really trust and it wasn't going to be used for long.


answered 19 Oct '09, 07:05

Idstam's gravatar image

accept rate: 22%

We also passed our first carseat to a friend, who was visiting temporarily from abroad. They used it while they they were here, and luckily, they heard of someone else who was visiting and was asking whether they could borrow a car seat. So through chance, friends networks we were able to pass that one around.

The second seat which was the Brittax Romer, was a different situation, we were simply not able to pass it on. We told close friends and relatives about it, who also passed on the information about the carseat. After a month we heard that someone needed a carseat, and who couldn't afford to pay for a new one. We passed the carseat along with the documentation and bits.

Although I fully respect the safety regulations put in place for our childrens safety in some instances it is my opinion that maybe it is safer to have a secondhand carseat than not at all. (providing it has not been in an accident)

I would suggest spreading the word amongst friends and relatives!


answered 19 Oct '09, 08:36

Emi's gravatar image

accept rate: 19%

edited 19 Oct '09, 08:50

As long as they are not passed the expiry date, I would also probably pass them along to trusted friends. We have accepted used car seats from friends. Their child just grew out of it and it has never been in an accident. .


answered 19 Oct '09, 11:57

Tammy's gravatar image

Tammy ♦♦
accept rate: 18%

I would pass the car seat along to friends as long as they haven't expired. I recently learned that you can return car seats to babies r us and get a rebate. What a great idea! Here is more info:


answered 19 Oct '09, 13:28

Michelle's gravatar image

accept rate: 3%

Thanks for the tip. I didn't know that and had one I was just about to get rid of.

(23 Oct '09, 02:19) mkcoehoorn

I would pass them along to a womens shelter or a half way house or somewhere that that they could be put to use. I agree that its not really right to sell them but if you are a good person and you know the seats are in good shape, not expired - no accidents then you should not feel guilty about passing them on to someone who is desperate. Think of an abused women who finally got the nerve up to leave her abusive partner and left with the kids and the clothes on her back. She is the kind of person who could benefit enormously from your donation as a used car seat is better than no car seat at all.


answered 19 Oct '09, 15:19

dreamerisme's gravatar image

accept rate: 8%

edited 21 Oct '09, 04:30

+1 with the provision that the seat is nowhere near the expiration date.

(20 Oct '09, 14:39) lgritz

yes not expired, edited to reflect - thanks

(21 Oct '09, 04:30) dreamerisme

I'm not aware of any problem that should arise after a prolonged use of a carseat. They're usually made of long-lasting plastic (which is another reason to reuse them...) and even the fabrics are usually synthetic nylon polyesters. The only limitation on using the carseat is the weight of the child, AFAIK.

If you don't know of anyone in your circle of friends and family who needs it, consider donating the seat to a charity in your area. I'm sure there are websites that can help you find someone who needs it.


answered 19 Oct '09, 11:46

Yuval's gravatar image

accept rate: 6%


In Canada you are not allowed to sell them and stores for used children's items won't take them as they 1)have expiry date (usually last about 7-10 years) and 2) you wouldn't of known if they were in an accident and thus can no longer be reused.

(19 Oct '09, 11:54) Tammy ♦♦

Here in Israel it's perfectly legal. Then again, maybe there's something the Israeli lawmakers should know...

I bought a new seat nearly a year ago, and nobody told me anything about expiration of the product, not at the store and not any of the people I know, some of them experienced parents. Which seems perfectly reasonable to me, because I don't see what part of the seat should expire within 7-10 years...

(19 Oct '09, 14:04) Yuval

@Yuval I am also not entirely certain why they have an expiry date just that they do. At least those sold in North America all have a date stamped into the plastic if you can find it. I guess the idea is that if they put it on a sticker someone could remove it.

(19 Oct '09, 21:17) Tammy ♦♦

They expire because of the foam in them. The impact cushioning in them is foam and over time that breaks down. My Peg Perego infant carrier seat has a 5 year expiration and its one of the most expensive yet safest seats on the market.

(21 Oct '09, 04:33) dreamerisme
Your answer
toggle preview

Follow this question

By Email:

Once you sign in you will be able to subscribe for any updates here



Answers and Comments

Markdown Basics

  • *italic* or _italic_
  • **bold** or __bold__
  • link:[text]( "Title")
  • image?![alt text](/path/img.jpg "Title")
  • numbered list: 1. Foo 2. Bar
  • to add a line break simply add two spaces to where you would like the new line to be.
  • basic HTML tags are also supported



Asked: 19 Oct '09, 06:26

Seen: 5,363 times

Last updated: 21 Oct '09, 04:30