Key Graco Expiration Points
- All models expire 6 years from manufacture date, except some boosters reaching 7 years.
- Check the sticker on the back, underside, or sides to find the date.
- Do not use an unmarked seat or one past its labeled timeframe.
- Contact Graco for date help if no sticker is present.
- They cannot vouch for safety beyond the established expiration.
- Replace seats once expired to maintain child passenger protection.
Following the manufacture date guidelines ensures you maximize your seat’s designed lifespan while keeping safety a priority.
Knowing the Shelf Life of Graco Car Seats
Graco car seats generally last 6 years from the manufacture date. Checking this date ensures you do not use an expired seat past its useful lifespan.
Why Does the Manufacture Date Matter?
The manufacture date, rather than purchase date, is important for a few key reasons:
- It gives the actual age of the car seat components. The materials begin degrading at that point.
- Graco bases expiration on the manufacture date, not when it was bought or installed.
- The date is set at production based on tested safety margins. Time of use does not influence when those materials expire.
- Referencing the manufacture date accounts for storage time before purchase. This provides the total lifespan since it was made.
Basing expiration on the manufacture date provides an accurate, consistent cutoff for when to retire a Graco seat. This helps ensure you are using one still within its designed protective abilities.
Where Can You Find the Manufacture Date?
Graco prints the manufacture date in a few locations to make it readily accessible:
- On a sticker on the back of the car seat near the bottom. This is the most common spot.
- On a sticker on the underside of the seat when you flip it over.
- Sometimes on a sticker on the outer sides of the seat.
- Listed in the user manual that comes with the car seat.
- On the original packaging the seat came in from the store.
If you cannot find the date in any of these locations, the seat should not be used since you cannot verify its age. An unmarked seat may be too old to provide adequate crash protection.
What Does the Full Expiration Sticker Include?
The complete manufacture sticker contains these key pieces of information:
- The model name and number of the specific Graco car seat.
- The actual manufacture date, typically as a month and year.
- The expiration date which is 6 years (or 7 for some models) after being made.
- The date when it is estimated to have exceeded its useful life span.
- An identifying batch or serial number for that seat.
Only use seats with a legible label including all of these expiration details. Otherwise, you cannot confirm it is still within its safe age based on when it was first created.
Can You Find the Date Without the Sticker?
If there is no manufacture sticker:
- Reference your order paperwork or receipt to see if it lists the date.
- Check if the retailer can provide the manufacture date from their records.
- Contact Graco with your model and serial number to have them look up the date.
- As a last resort, inspect the style and date codes to try to estimate the approximate age.
Without the actual manufacture date, you should not continue using a seat since its safety cannot be verified based on its age.
What If You Don’t Have the User Manual?
If you obtained a Graco car seat secondhand or the manual has been lost, try:
- Looking up the manual online to view the manufacture date. Graco has many models available digitally.
- Use the model number to call Graco and ask for date details for that type of seat.
- Checking any original packaging for date codes.
- Inspect the seat for design traits to estimate the probable age range.
Without an exact manufacture date, the seat should be replaced. The date is needed to confirm it has not exceeded the 6-7 year shelf life.
Why Can’t You Go by Purchase Date?
The purchase date is often different than the manufacture date, so it is an unreliable expiration metric for a few reasons:
The seat may sit in a warehouse or store shelf for an unknown period before being bought. This untracked time impacts material integrity.
Different retailers sell through stock at different rates. So purchase dates vary widely for the same manufactured batch.
Consumers have no way to know how long the seat was unsold before they bought it.
Secondhand seats have no purchase timeframe at all to reference.
With varying purchase timeframes, only the manufacture date provides a consistent expiration guideline for all users. This ensures every seat is used safely only within its designed lifespan.
Does Graco Ever Extend Expiration Dates?
In almost all cases, Graco does not extend expiration dates past the labeled 6 year manufacture timeframe.
- Testing only covers performance within this period; performance outside those years cannot be verified.
- Materials are proven to degrade over time regardless of use patterns.
- Advancements in safety standards make older seats obsolete.
- For liability reasons, they stand behind the selected expiration period.
Unless you receive written confirmation of an exception, seats should be retired by 6-7 years as indicated based on when they were first manufactured.
What Are the Risks of Using an Expired Seat?
Potential risks include:
- Weakened plastic prone to cracking in a crash.
- Frayed fabric and stuffing providing less cushioning from impact forces.
- Brittle straps tearing rather than restraining.
- Adhesives and components that detach more easily.
- Malfunctioning buckles, adjusters, and chest clips.
- Lacking safety advances from updated regulations.
- Increased risk of serious injury or death in a collision.
Using expired seats undermines their ability to properly protect your child as designed. Only use Graco car seats within the manufacture date-based lifespan.
How Can You Verify the Expiration Date?
When purchasing a used Graco seat or acquiring one from friends or family, be sure to independently verify the manufacture date:
- If the seat has the sticker, check that the date has not lapsed.
- Request a photo of the sticker information if purchasing online.
- Ask for a copy of the user manual to confirm the labeled lifespan.
- Have the owner show proof of purchase if the sticker is missing.
- Call Graco for date details if provided the serial number.
Without verification, assume used seats have expired unless proven otherwise. Using them could put a child at serious risk of injury.
What If a Seat Expires Before Your Child Is Ready?
If your Graco seat expires before your child has outgrown it, you will need to purchase a replacement. It is not safe to wait and hold out for longer:
Start budgeting and planning for a new seat in advance. They average $150-$300 depending on type.
Begin comparing options that will accommodate your child’s upcoming growth.
Watch for sales, coupons, or trade-in specials to help lessen the financial impact.
Properly dispose of the expired seat so it won’t be passed on to others.
While inconvenient, a new seat must be obtained once the current one reaches its expiration date to keep your child protected.
Are Graco Seats Guaranteed Past Expiration Dates?
Graco cannot guarantee the safety or reliability of seats used beyond the stated expiration timeframe. A few reasons why:
- The materials used are not tested or rated for performance outside the established shelf life.
- The expiration limits account for gradual wear over years of use.
- Advancements make older models outdated regardless of condition.
For liability and safety reasons, Graco stands firmly behind the selected manufacture-based expiration dates for each seat model. Seats should be retired accordingly.
Locating the Manufacture Sticker
When checking for the manufacture date sticker, look in these spots:
- On the outer back of the seat toward the bottom edge.
- On the underside after flipping the seat over to view the base.
- On the side edges, though less common.
- Inside the user guide that accompanies the seat.
- On the original packaging the set came in, if available.
Never use a seat that does not have a visible manufacture date sticker. There is no safe way to identify its age and expiry without this information.
What to Do With an Expired Seat
When a car seat expires due to age, be sure to:
- Replace it right away with an appropriate new model that will accommodate your child.
- Remove the expired seat from your car so it won’t accidentally continued to be used.
- Mark it clearly as “expired” so someone else doesn’t unknowingly use it.
- Recycle the seat if possible or dispose of it fully to prevent it being passed on to others.
- Never sell or donate an outdated expired seat, even if it still seems in good shape.
Proper retirement of outdated seats helps avoid placing other children at risk due to lack of appropriate crash protection abilities.