Well, here is the deal on expired car seats. There are a lot of reasons why using expired car seats are a bad idea. Before I knew better, I actually did it myself, not realizing that I might be endangering my kiddo. The more research I did, the more I found out, and the more I realized that while there was info that could go either way, in the end, it wasnt worth the risk
. Does the plastic automatically become unsafe on the first day of the seventh year? Nah. Do the straps lose their elasticity and not work correctly? Nah. But dont write off the reasons given. The manufacturers cant say for sure WHEN that plastic has reached it's limit, because every car seat is exposed to different outside influences (sun, heat, cold, freezing, etc) at different rates, different amounts of time. I know that my seats, after being toted around, lugged to and from cars (and airplanes), through many states and lots of trips, all have their share of bumps, scratches, and exposure to sun and cold. All those factors are a stress to those plastic shells. Additionally, before I knew better, I would remove the straps and wash them. Thats a huge no-no and there are compelling reasons why thats a bad idea. Soaps and detergents break down the fibers in the straps and cause them to stretch. They lose the elasticity that helps them to work so well, and that transfers the energy of a crash to your baby, instead of the straps! Also, have you ever lent your baby seat out? Let friends use it for their new baby? Received a used seat from a friend? That can be a bad idea too and heres why. Those seats my have been involved in a recall, be missing parts, not have been cared for properly, or may have even been in a crash. Car seats are one time use products. They are designed to absorb and withstand a single crash. Then they MUST be replaced. There are only one or two car seat manufacturers that dont demand replacement after every crash. One is Britax, and the crash must meet certain strict criteria in order for the seat to be used again.
The reason a crashed seat should be replaced is this: After absorbing a crash, there is no way to tell if that seat will be able to sustain another without failure. Using a crashed seat after it's been through those kinds of forces is the same as using your child as a crash test dummy. Nobody knows what will happen.
Last, I would never ask you ladies to take my post as gospel. I am a certified child passenger safety tech though, and so far my best resource on car seat information from certified and dependable resources has been www.car-seat.org
. If you have questions or need specific information you can ask questions there and get a ton of wonderful information. The techs on that site changed the way I looked at sticking my kids in car seats. I realized it was much more than just a duty. I realized that even though I am a good driver, there was no more dangerous place I could possibly put my kids than in a car, and its my job to do my very best to protect them.