Yes, car seats expire. Not all of them expire after the same amount of time. It all depends on the manufacturer.
Why do they expire?
…because plastic wears out over time. Especially in Canada where car seats are exposed to extreme heat and extreme cold over the years, the plastic expands and contracts and eventually isn’t as strong.
Where to find the expiry date?
|Model number and date of manufacture
- On the back, bottom or side of the car seat, the expiry date is imprinted in the plastic
- It is on the sticker that has the model number and manufacture date
|Expiry imprinted in the plastic
Car Seat Laws are different in different provinces
Across Canada, there are various laws that regulate the use of car seats. These laws state what height, weight and age the child must be to use different types of car seats. The biggest difference between provinces is the use of booster seats. Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut don’t have any laws requiring children to use a booster seat.
Here is a good chart showing the laws across Canada (pdf).
Here are some general tips to know about your car seat!
- Always have the proper child seat for the height and weight of your child
- Depending on where you live in Canada, the laws are a little bit different. Please see this table for what is required in your province
- There are many different seat types:
- Infant – rear-facing only
- Infant/Child – can be used rear- and forward-facing
- Infant/Child/Booster – can be used rear-, forward-facing and as a belt positioning booster
- Child/Booster – forward facing only; 5pt harness and belt-positing booster
- Booster – can be backless or high back
- Always read the manual for vehicle that it is being installed in.
- not all cars allow seats to be installed in all positions in the rear seats
- not all positions in a car allow for the use of the tether
- not all position in a car allow for the use of the LATCH / UAS
- the owner’s manual will state where they have designed car seats to be installed
- Be sure that your car has a tether bolt when using a forward facing seat
- Cars made after September 1999 will come with the top tether bolt
- cars made before that can have a bolt installed at a dealership
- The LATCH system has been standard in vehicles since September 2002
- you need to check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to see if your vehicle is equiped (there are usually 2 “button” markers on the seat to show where the anchors are
- you also need to see which positions are allowed to use those anchors. Some vehicles do not allow for the center position to borrow the anchors intended to be used by the outboard positions
- You can use either the LATCH or the vehicle’s seat belt — use the one that give you the tightest fit
- The car seat should not be able to move more than 1 inch side to side at the belt path (where the LATCH or seat belt) goes through the seat
- Put your weight in the car seat when installing it (kneel in the seat) — this will push the seat into the passenger seat
- Always check the car seat every time you put your child in – you can never be too careful
- Check that the seat is tight and that an infant only seat is clipped in securely into the base
- Check that a rear-facing seat is not touching the front seat
- Check that the harness is clipped in properly
- Check that the harness is tight (one finger between child’s collar bone and harness)
- Check that the chest clip is at the child’s arm pits
- In winter time, do not put bulky winter coats on the children as this causes the seat straps to not be tight enough (during a collision the amount of pressure applied will compress a snow suit and make the straps really loose) – even though you think the seat belt straps are tight enough, they’re not.
- This also applies to 3rd party “cuddle bags” for infant seats – do not put anything behind your child between them and the car seat. The ones that just go over the car seat are much safer. (read about compression above)
- We do not recommend using second hand car seat without knowing the history of the seat.
- If a car seat has been in a collision, NEVER use it again. It MUST be replaced.