Friday, 25 October 2013

WHY do car seats expire...?

There are probably a few people out there with seats that they thought would last them until their child no longer needed one - but with the new law change effective on 1st November 2013 (which will see the age children need to be legally restrained raised to 7) there's going to  be some parents out there who thought they were travelling legal until 5 - that may not see the the lifespan of their seat lasting through until their child's 7th birthday .

Why do seats expire? That's a question I hear a lot - many people don't understand why a restriction is put on a car seats use - especially when you can spend hundreds of dollars on some models. In fact some of the most expensive seats on the market can actually have the shortest lifespan.

So why do car seats expire?

There are in fact many important reasons why you must retire your trusted seat after the specified time, no matter how clean, well looked after it is, how expensive it was or even how much you've used it.  You also can't discount time of seat in storage and 'extend' it's lifespan.

1. Safety standards and regulations change over time as technology is developed - expiration dates create essential guidelines to ensure our children are kept the safest they can be. So no using a dodgy car seat design from the 80's, when far superior technology exists.

2. Not only does the technology of restraints evolve but so does vehicles' ability to secure seats properly and consistently.

3. The materials used in restraints will become affected over time by use, weather (temperature can be even more extreme in cars that outdoors) as well as wear & tear . Plastics can stress and warp, harness straps and tether straps and fabrics can fray and rip. Installation labels can fade and/or disappear completely and instructional manuals can get lost.  

4. Manufacturing landscapes also change. The manufacturer may no longer stock replacement manuals and parts.

imagine if carseats had no expiry date. we might see more of this.... 

WHERE do i find out the expiry date?

Every car seat is different. Some restraints will tell you in the instructions where to find out the seat’s expiration date, some won't.  Some expiration dates are clearly listed, some only give manufacture dates.  Dates are found usually molded into the shell of the seat or by stickers - some are super easy to find, others require a bit more muscle, and dissecting of the seat to find.

Most car seats have a lifespan of five to ten years after they were manufactured (not after they were purchased) - you'll need to check in with your manufacturer or retailer for details on specific models.  

So given that the goal posts have moved for many of you out there - I'd suggest you check your seat now to find out if it is going to take you and your family to AT LEAST age seven.  It may be a case that many of you are going to have to consider investing in another seat. I'd say, go on and do it - and while you're thinking about this next seat, remember the law may be to restrain your little one till their seventh birthday - but the safest way to travel is in a booster well beyond 7 - until you're child is 148cm or has outgrown the recommendations of the seat.  

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