hypothetical situation-- expired car seat question - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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#61 of 75 Old 09-22-2009, 05:59 PM
 
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Tough and unpleasant choices but it's a good and educational discussion. Using any car seat, despite being old and expired, is always better than using nothing. But it's tough call when to "allow" this. There usually is a way around not using car seats this way but that has more to do with habits of a parent and priorities. Like some people have mentioned, not using car seats is often part of a larger problem. There is a reason why traffic accidents sadly are the number one killer of children in US.

What happens with an expired car seat? Nothing much happens and despite what many seem to believe, the plastic does not disintegrate for a very long time. But it's not always a good idea to discuss this openly since it may lead to parents developing bad (even worse) habits and having less respect for what manufacturers say.

Does plastic in car seats become unsafe right after expiry? Of course not. Should you still respect manufacturer recommendations. Definitely. Plastic in a regular car seat will last for a very long time and has nothing to do with expiry dates. Examples would be car seats in Sweden (or Europe) for example. There is no expiry dates on infant seats or rear facing 55 bls car seats. This is despite Swedes being fanatical about car seat safety (rear facing to age 4 is one example)

It's recommended not to use an infant seat in Sweden longer than 5 years and a rear facing 55 lbs no longer than 10 years. This has nothing to do with the plastic. And this is by the way the same plastic used in US seats. Some of the car sets share the same frame. Experts in the field say (unofficially) that 15-20 years is no issue for the plastic.

Why should we not use car seat for a very long time? The longer time passes the less we know about history of the seat. The seat might have several different owners and we don't know how it's been treated. It's also difficult to find spare parts if needed and those manuals are often long gone

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#62 of 75 Old 09-22-2009, 07:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Irishmommy View Post

And if a family can afford a car (any car), and gas, and insurance, and a license, and maintenance, why can't they afford a car seat? I'm not meaning to sound snarky, I'm genuinely curious.
It's entirely possible that a family that genuinely can't afford a car seat are borrowing an extra car belonging to a family member, or they bought the car long ago, or they bought a cheap car. Older cars cost less to insure (liability only on our previous minivan, a 91 Toyota Previa, was $22/month). The very same Toyota Previa cost about $70/year to register.

A drivers license here in my state (CA) only requires renewal once every 5 years, and it's only $28.

My sister has a really tight budget, and sometimes she'll only put what she can afford in the tank for gas, and hope it lasts the week. It was very much the same for my parents when I was growing up.

For people like my sister and my parents, if their car breaks down and they can't afford it, they don't get it fixed until they CAN afford it, or they call in favors from other family members.

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Originally Posted by chickabiddy View Post
While it wouldn't meet best practice recommendations, it would be legal and meet minimum standards and be far safer than using an expired seat to use a $70 Safety 1st Avenue from birth until it's outgrown at about age 3.5-4, and then a $50 Graco Turbobooster to seatbelt age. That's about $120 total, or about $1 per month.
$70 for the first seat can be a pretty big hit to the budget. I know quite a few people who don't have that kind of wiggle room in their budget. Layaway would be a good option for something like this though, if someone is lucky enough to live near somewhere that offers layaway.

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Originally Posted by bandgeek View Post
A lot of the time they CAN'T. More than just a few people drive around with no license, no insurance, and a car that barely runs that was handed down to them by a family member. They scrimp for $5 a week to get enough gas to get to the grocery store. If there was such thing as good public transportation most places in this country, maybe it wouldn't be an issue, but good PT is usually limited to bigger cities.

So, it's not as simple as "Well, you managed to afford the $2000 for your reliable and legal transportation, what's $40 more?". They may have spent their only $150 on a junk car and $40 more IS an issue.

I'm driving my mom's old car that she paid $250 for 6 years ago. It only runs still because my step-dad is a mechanic and he doesn't ask me to pay him. I'm ashamed to say I've even driven with no insurance when I couldn't afford the bill and it lapsed (it's not like they give you a grace period). Thankfully, I've never been in a situation where I didn't have a car seat, but only because I'm *extremely* aware of the importance of a good, non-expired seat. I can barely keep my electric on, let alone go drop $40 on....anything. The only reason I was able to get DD her my ride was because of charity.
That was very much the way my parents got by when I was a teenager. My parents drove junkers that were given to them by family or bought for dirt cheap, Dad did the repair work himself whenever possible, often they had no insurance, and at least once a month we'd end up scrounging the couch cushions and under the washer for enough change to buy gas.

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Originally Posted by Caneel View Post
I donated more than one used seat to my local shelter. Granted, these seats had a far amount of useful life left but the director came right out and said they will take recently expired seats because their need so great.
When my sister's kids were tiny, my sister was so poor that she couldn't afford car seats. My parents bought her 2, I gave her 3 "hand me downs" from my kids, she got another hand me down from her then SIL, and she only had to buy 1 booster.

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Originally Posted by Ironica View Post
I have the same query. It costs as much as a Cosco Scenera every time I fill our tank.

And if we've got dirt-poor people living in places where they HAVE TO have personal transportation to meet the necessities of life, then we've got other problems, you know?

People who "have to" drive and can't afford even $40 for a carseat that will last several years are a symptom of a much, much bigger problem.
Even in places where there IS decent public transit, if you're working weird hours, sometimes public transit isn't an option.

My dad spent 3 years biking 18-36 miles a day to work because buses didn't run early enough for him to make it to work on time (He worked a 6:20-3:30 schedule). His car had been totaled in an accident that wasn't his fault (he did have insurance at the time, but the other driver didn't), and we didn't have the money to replace his car. I had to give him my bike for that. Most days one of his coworkers with a pickup truck who lived nearby gave him a ride home.
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#63 of 75 Old 09-22-2009, 09:14 PM
 
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Originally Posted by WC_hapamama View Post
$70 for the first seat can be a pretty big hit to the budget. I know quite a few people who don't have that kind of wiggle room in their budget. Layaway would be a good option for something like this though, if someone is lucky enough to live near somewhere that offers layaway.
Just as a point of information, the Safety 1st Avenue is sold at Sears and KMart. Both offer layaway. I think it's about $85 at those stores, or $12 each month for 7 months. It fits average children from birth and can get average children to an age where they can use a highbacked booster (legally, if not best of best practices, but certainly better than an expired seat). A highbacked booster can be $50ish and parents could start laying it away when child hits 30#.

I am truly not unsympathetic to financial constraints, and I understand how poverty can change priorities, but it doesn't change the fact that old seats (not going to quibble here about the difference between 5 years 11 months and 6 years one month) are not safe.

Carseat-checking (CPST) and WAH mama to a twelve-year-old girl.
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#64 of 75 Old 09-22-2009, 10:48 PM
 
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Around here they already give out free carseats (Scenera's) and boosters (not sure of model). If your eligible for WIC, your eligble for a carseat through the health department. They just make you watch a video on proper installation and then help you get it into your car good and tight - its actually how I learned about proper installation of carseats!!
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#65 of 75 Old 09-23-2009, 01:20 AM
 
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Originally Posted by chickabiddy View Post
Just as a point of information, the Safety 1st Avenue is sold at Sears and KMart. Both offer layaway. I think it's about $85 at those stores, or $12 each month for 7 months. It fits average children from birth and can get average children to an age where they can use a highbacked booster (legally, if not best of best practices, but certainly better than an expired seat). A highbacked booster can be $50ish and parents could start laying it away when child hits 30#.

I am truly not unsympathetic to financial constraints, and I understand how poverty can change priorities, but it doesn't change the fact that old seats (not going to quibble here about the difference between 5 years 11 months and 6 years one month) are not safe.
I'm not disputing the fact that "expired" seats are not as safe as a newer one, I'm just pointing out that even the cheapest convertible and bucket seats on the market are not always easy to work into your budget if you're poor. Some posters on this thread keep acting like $50 shouldn't be a big deal, but sometimes it is.

Not everyone who is "poor" qualifies for public aid that would make getting a free/subsidized car seat easy. I know quite a few families that make just a little too much for public aid, but barely enough to survive. Sometimes you have to make hard choices knowing that it's less than ideal/safe, in order to keep a roof over your head and food on the table for your family. Sometimes it's a choice between a new seat for baby, or medication for another child, or a car repair, or having to buy new shoes because the ones your kids are wearing are literally disintegrating on their feet.

What really bugs me is that other posters in this thread really just don't "get" that some of these families really have had to make some hard decisions about whether to buy a new seat or not, and just assumed that a lot/most of these families just don't care.
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#66 of 75 Old 09-23-2009, 02:09 AM
 
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I think that some people really aren't understanding the position that people who "can't afford" a new car seat are in.

Some of these families may already be eating ramen, beans and rice, and going without utilities for a few days just to be able to pay rent without scrounging up an extra $50 for a carseat.

Some people don't get "big" gifts from family members when we're expecting a baby, some don't even get baby showers. $50-$70 can be a weeks worth of groceries, a weeks worth of gasoline to get to and from work.
yep

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#67 of 75 Old 09-23-2009, 02:12 AM
 
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Older cars cost less to insure
and some people don't have car insurance. (obviously illegal...)

and some people don't have a current drivers license.

Katie
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#68 of 75 Old 09-23-2009, 02:17 AM
 
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I think the video of the strap breaking and stranging the child is proof that sometimes no seat is better than expired seat. Very interesting thread, ladies.

It's funny because I was discussing this with SIL just 2 days ago!! (She's due with number 5 in a few weeks, and her old seat is expired.)

Mom to angel baby, grew wings at 5 weeks in May '07, William, born Dec '08, and another angel who grew wings at 8w4d (lost at 11w) in Oct '10. Rachel born Feb 2012, Another angel Lost Sept '13. New bean due Nov '14!
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#69 of 75 Old 09-23-2009, 02:45 AM
 
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Originally Posted by an_aurora View Post
Well yeah, of course something is better than nothing. Putting your kid in a cardboard box and setting it on the seat is better than nothing
Hypothetically speaking, as this is a desert-island scenario for most of us here, would not a box on the floor of the backseat be better?

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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#70 of 75 Old 09-23-2009, 09:18 AM
 
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Originally Posted by WC_hapamama View Post
What really bugs me is that other posters in this thread really just don't "get" that some of these families really have had to make some hard decisions about whether to buy a new seat or not, and just assumed that a lot/most of these families just don't care.
My argument is not with people who really, truly, cannot afford $2/week during pregnancy and $0.50/week for the first three years (Avenue at birth, HBB Turbobooster when that's outgrown). I do hope those people find a way to get in touch with their local or state SafeKids coalition, though, because most decent SafeKids leaders will try to get those kids in seats.

My argument is with: seats don't really expire or they're good for ten years (they do and they're not); something is better than nothing (it isn't always); people need a $100 infant seat followed by a $250 Britax to be safe so why bother (they don't, and safety can be affordable for many families).

Carseat-checking (CPST) and WAH mama to a twelve-year-old girl.
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#71 of 75 Old 09-23-2009, 12:13 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Adventuredad View Post
Tough and unpleasant choices but it's a good and educational discussion. Using any car seat, despite being old and expired, is always better than using nothing. But it's tough call when to "allow" this. There usually is a way around not using car seats this way but that has more to do with habits of a parent and priorities. Like some people have mentioned, not using car seats is often part of a larger problem. There is a reason why traffic accidents sadly are the number one killer of children in US.

What happens with an expired car seat? Nothing much happens and despite what many seem to believe, the plastic does not disintegrate for a very long time. But it's not always a good idea to discuss this openly since it may lead to parents developing bad (even worse) habits and having less respect for what manufacturers say.

Does plastic in car seats become unsafe right after expiry? Of course not. Should you still respect manufacturer recommendations. Definitely. Plastic in a regular car seat will last for a very long time and has nothing to do with expiry dates. Examples would be car seats in Sweden (or Europe) for example. There is no expiry dates on infant seats or rear facing 55 bls car seats. This is despite Swedes being fanatical about car seat safety (rear facing to age 4 is one example)

It's recommended not to use an infant seat in Sweden longer than 5 years and a rear facing 55 lbs no longer than 10 years. This has nothing to do with the plastic. And this is by the way the same plastic used in US seats. Some of the car sets share the same frame. Experts in the field say (unofficially) that 15-20 years is no issue for the plastic.

Why should we not use car seat for a very long time? The longer time passes the less we know about history of the seat. The seat might have several different owners and we don't know how it's been treated. It's also difficult to find spare parts if needed and those manuals are often long gone
Thanks for your post. What you said is pretty much the same as I have been able to find. Do you know why the same manufacturers have different expiry dates for (basically)the same seats in different countries though? Taking Britax as an example, they say their seats don't expire at all in Europe, expire in 10 years in New Zealand and then for some reason, only last 5/6 years in the US? This is what is not making sense to me. If it were really true that carseats just after 6 years or so, shouldn't they also reccomend seatbelts and isofix/latch connections are also replaced after the same period?

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Originally Posted by chickabiddy View Post
My argument is with: seats don't really expire or they're good for ten years (they do and they're not.
I think this is just your opinion though, there doesn't seem to be any data to back that up.
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#72 of 75 Old 09-23-2009, 12:28 PM
 
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I think this is just your opinion though, there doesn't seem to be any data to back that up.
It's not just my opinion, it's the opinion of most US-based carseat manufacturers, who do not consider their seats safe to use after six years.

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#73 of 75 Old 09-23-2009, 12:46 PM
 
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It's not just my opinion, it's the opinion of most US-based carseat manufacturers, who do not consider their seats safe to use after six years.
Well yeah, but those same manufacturers seem to have very different "opinions" depending what country they are in. This doesn't make sense. If seats really become unsafe after 6 years, Graco, Britax etc are setting themselfes up for large lawsuits in Europe/NZ/OZ by telling their US customers one thing and the rest another.
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#74 of 75 Old 09-23-2009, 03:45 PM
 
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Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
Hypothetically speaking, as this is a desert-island scenario for most of us here, would not a box on the floor of the backseat be better?
Yes

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#75 of 75 Old 09-23-2009, 03:54 PM
 
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Originally Posted by roxyrox View Post
Well yeah, but those same manufacturers seem to have very different "opinions" depending what country they are in. This doesn't make sense. If seats really become unsafe after 6 years, Graco, Britax etc are setting themselfes up for large lawsuits in Europe/NZ/OZ by telling their US customers one thing and the rest another.
You're right. I don't know why there are different standards for different countries. I don't know if seats that would fail in the US at 6 years would pass in the UK at 10 years. I just don't know.

I do know that US manufacturers don't consider their seats safe to use past the expiry dates. I wish I knew why. I wish I knew the exact tests and criteria. I don't. And without that data, I'm just not comfortable second-guessing their statements that the seats are not safe to use after expiry.

Carseat-checking (CPST) and WAH mama to a twelve-year-old girl.
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