How long are car seats good for?

8 minute read Published on Dec 1, 2023 by BrokerLink Communications

A smiling woman fastening her baby seat

If you have a baby or young child, then you know how important it is to choose the right car seat. After all, a car seat is what keeps them safe on the road. However, many people don’t realize that car seats have an expiration date. So whether you bought one used or were hoping to use your first child’s car seat for your second child, you will need to check that it’s still good. Keep reading to find out how long car seats last and can be used in Canada.

How long before a car seat expires?

All car seats have an expiration date. However, the length of time that a car seat is good for varies depending on the manufacturer.

For example, car seats sold by Costco, Recaro, Chicco, Evenflo, and Britax typically have six-year expiration dates, whereas Graco, Maxi-Cosi, Evenflo Symphony, and Evenflo MaxSafe have expiration dates ranging between seven and ten years. The reality is that you must check the expiration date on your particular car seat to be sure as these dates vary, even among products offered by the same manufacturer.

For instance, Britax’s infant car seats are said to last six years but its booster seats have a lifespan of nine years. In addition, sometimes parts have different expiration dates if they were sold separately, such as a harness or base that came separately from the seat itself, so you will need to check the date on both parts.

Regardless of the brand, in order to sell a car seat in Canada, car seat manufacturers must do the following:

  • meet the latest Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards
  • have a National Safety mark
  • have an expiration date

If you want to find out the expiration date on your car seat, check the bottom of the seat. In some cases, the date may also be stamped into the car seat frame. If the expiration date is not visible, contact the manufacturer as soon as possible.

How long are car seats good for after a car accident?

The short answer? They’re not. The one glaring exception to the expiration rule is that car seats that have been involved in an accident immediately expire. Typically, the accident needs to be moderate to severe or one where the car suffered internal damage. However, some manufacturers suggest that car seats be replaced even after a minor accident. You will need to review Alberta car seat laws or the applicable laws in your province to confirm what types of accidents necessitate a car seat replacement.

The good news is that if your car seat is damaged in an accident and needs to be replaced, your car insurance may cover it. Ultimately, it depends on what type of coverage you have in your policy.

For example, if your policy features collision or comprehensive coverage, then the cost of buying a new car seat may be covered by your insurer, depending on the circumstances of the accident. For collision coverage to kick in, the accident must have caused significant physical damage to your car, and you must have collided with another vehicle, animal, or grounded object on the road.

Meanwhile, for comprehensive coverage to apply, the damage to your car must have been the result of an insured peril, like fire, theft, vandalism, wind, falling objects, or water damage. It’s also possible for the other driver’s third-party liability car insurance to pay for your car seat replacement if the accident you got into was the fault of another driver. If you have more questions about car insurance and car seat replacements following an accident, contact BrokerLink.

Why do car seats expire?

At this point, you may be wondering why car seats expire. After all, the answer may not seem as obvious as other products with expiration dates, like your carton of milk in the fridge. The reality is that car seats expire primarily for safety reasons. Just like many other products, the longer they are used, the more they become susceptible to wear and tear. Given that car seats are made of plastic, it’s not unsurprising that they begin to weaken with frequent use, exposure to heat and cold, etc.

Eventually, they reach a point where they stop functioning as they should and start to break down. Since the purpose of a car seat is incredibly important - to keep your child safe while driving - car seat manufacturers and parents alike do not want to take any chances. That is why manufacturers set cautious expiration dates for their products and why parents must take care to replace them at the end of their life.

To learn more about the specific ways that car seats may deteriorate with time and therefore why they expire, keep reading:

Degradation of materials

Whether due to cold, heat, sun, humidity, or simply age, the plastic that car seats are so often made of will eventually weaken and break. Once it becomes brittle and prone to breaking, it is unsafe to use.

Missing parts

The truth is that as years go by, car seats inevitably go through a considerable amount of wear and tear. From belts being switched from rear-facing to front-facing to pads getting thrown in the washing machine repeatedly, several pieces are likely to go missing over the years. As such, it’s important that you replace your car seat when needed.


Rust is another reason that car seats expire. It’s not uncommon for rust to form on the metal components of a car seat. They might not be easily visible, but if rust has started to form, it can impact the seat’s effectiveness in a car accident.

Discontinued products

Yet another reason that car seats expire is due to discontinued products. Companies change their product lines all the time. If a car seat manufacturer decides to stop making a certain model, whether for safety reasons or other reasons entirely, replacement parts will stop being manufactured, which could make it impossible to get your hands on the parts you need. Therefore, having an expiration date is important.

Technological advancements

Lastly, technological advancements help explain why car seats expire. Technology evolves quickly across all industries. Car seat manufacturers are constantly striving to create the safest products for their customers. Thus, another reason that car seats have expiration dates is to make room for these advancements and ensure that customers are using the latest, safest car seat technology.

Should I buy a new car seat or a used car seat once mine expires?

Although there are many benefits to shopping secondhand, a car seat is not something that you want to buy used. Whether for expiration or recall-related reasons, it is generally safer to replace your expired car seat with a brand-new car seat - one that you know for certain has never been recalled or involved in a car accident. Given how difficult it is to find out the true history of a used car seat, it’s wisest to purchase a new one.

However, if buying a new one isn’t in your budget or isn’t an option for other reasons, do your due diligence by making sure that the used car seat in question has a National Safety Mark, that the expiration date has not passed, and that it has not been recalled by the manufacturer. You should also do what you can to retrieve a copy of the manual and to ensure that it contains all parts.

What to do after your car seat expires

If your car seat is nearing the end of its life, you may be wondering what comes next. If you still need a car seat - whether you have a young child or plan to have a baby soon, then you will have no choice but to purchase a new car seat. If you aren’t sure what to do with the old one, it’s quite simple - dispose of it.

Car seat manufacturers strongly urge customers to safely dispose of expired car seats by disassembling them and recycling the parts. If the reason that your car seat expires was due to an accident, you may be required to show proof that you destroyed the car seat.

Contact BrokerLink for more information on car seat expiration dates

If you’re still confused about why or when car seats expire in Canada, get in touch with BrokerLink today. We can explain how car seat expiration dates work, as well as how your insurance policy may cover you if your car seat is damaged in a car accident. Further, as auto insurance experts, the BrokerLink team can provide all sorts of insight and advice into topics like driving with your pet or how to stay safe on a long distance drive. Plus, as insurance brokers, it’s our job to find the best possible coverage at the most affordable rates for our customers. No matter what kind of car insurance you are looking for, we will do our best to ensure your policy doesn’t break the bank. We do this by shopping around and comparing quotes on your behalf, as well as by unlocking auto insurance discounts for you, like the safe driver discount. Contact BrokerLink today to learn more about our unbeatable car insurance services - there’s a reason we’re the go-to insurance broker in Canada, after all. Give us a call, visit us in person, or send us an email, and one of our licensed insurance advisors will get back to you in no time. You can also take advantage of our free online quote tool to receive an accurate and free car insurance quote in minutes.

Get an auto insurance quote [phone]

FAQs on how long car seats are good for

How do I know if a car seat has expired?

You will need to locate the expiration date somewhere on the physical car seat. It can usually be found on the bottom of the car seat or stamped into the plastic of the seat frame. If you have no luck finding it in either of those spots, contact the car seat manufacturer with the serial number and ask them directly.

Do car seats expire after ten years?

Not necessarily. There is no set number of years that a car seat lasts. Instead, it varies between manufacturers and models, with some car seats lasting six years and others lasting ten or more.

Can I use a car seat after an accident?

In most cases, no. If the accident was extremely minor and no internal damage was suffered, you may be able to keep using your car seat though you should check the manual to make sure it’s safe. Meanwhile, if you get into a moderate or severe car accident, the car seat will need to be destroyed and replaced. Generally, if you want to become a safe driver and ensure your child’s safety, it’s best to buy a new car seat following an accident. Check out these safe driving tips to learn more.

If you have any questions, contact one of our local branches.