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Did you know that it’s possible to receive a ticket for using an “expired” car seat?

July 2, 2013 by Steven M. Gursten

What parents need to know about the car seat law in Michigan, and manufacturer requirements on child safety seats

A ticket for an expired car seat?

According to an e-mail statement to Michigan Auto Law from Sergeant Aimee Maike, an attorney with the Legislative and Legal Resources Section of the Office of the Director of the Michigan State Police:

If your use of an expired children’s car seat results in the child not being properly restrained in accordance with the child restraint manufacturer’s instructions, the vehicle manufacturer’s instructions and federal regulations, then a “Michigan State Police enforcement member may issue a citation for this violation.”

But what is an expired car seat? Michigan’s car seat laws do not say what makes a car seat expired.

Here are the laws:

  • Children younger than age 4 to ride in a car seat in the rear seat. If all available rear seats are occupied by children under 4, then a child under 4 may ride in a car seat in the front seat. A child in a rear-facing car seat may only ride in the front seat if the airbag is turned off.
  • Children to be properly buckled in a car seat or booster seat until they are 8 years old or 4-feet-9-inches tall. Children must ride in a seat until they reach the age requirement or the height requirement, whichever comes first.

What major car seat manufacturers have to say about car seat expiration

Below is a list of what some of the major manufacturers of car seats have to say about child safety seat expiration.

Graco: “Six years is the general recommendation (for using a car seat). Each manufacturer determines the specific useful life for its seats. The reason for those limits involved possible degradation of the plastic shell or other parts, the possible loss/breakage of parts, and the fact that older seats sometimes do not meet current government safety standards. … If you need to dispose of your [expired] car seat … then you should cut the straps of the harness so someone doesn’t try to re-use the expired seat for their child.”

“Each manufacturer sets an expiration date for its car seats … Most car seats should be replaced every six years.”

Britax: “BRITAX recommends that the use of a child seat be discontinued after a certain number of years from the date of manufacture … Expiration dates are provided for various reasons: technology has changed, components degrade from the environment …, parts get lost or installed incorrectly, or instructions and labels may not be available or not legible. After a child seat has met its expiration date, BRITAX requests that the child seat be destroyed.”

Where can you find the car seat expiration date? For most manufacturers, the expiration dates appear on the labels posted on the back of their child safety seats.

If there is no expiration date on the label, call and ask the car seat manufacturer. Make sure you have your car seat model name, model number and the manufacture date ready when you call to inquire.

Related information:

What is Michigan’s car seat law?

13 safety tips to prevent child heat strokes in cars this summer

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