How Long Do Graco Car Seats Last?

Key Takeaways

  • Graco car seats expire 6 years after the manufacture date, with some models reaching 7 years.
  • The plastic, fabric, and adhesives degrade over time, lessening safety.
  • Check the sticker on the back, sides, or underside for the manufacture date.
  • Do not use expired seats, as they may not adequately protect in a crash.
  • When replacing an outdated seat, properly install a new model checking for recalls and registrations.

Following Graco’s expiration recommendations ensures your child remains properly secured and safe while riding. Take the time to verify the manufacture date and replace any expired seats.

How Long Do Graco Car Seats Last?

Parents want to provide the safest environment for their children, especially when they are in the car. One essential item that helps keep kids safe is a car seat. Understanding how long car seats last, specifically Graco car seats, ensures you are providing adequate protection.

How Long Is the Shelf Life For Graco Car Seats?

Graco car seats generally have a 6-year shelf life. This means the seats should not be used if they are more than 6 years old. The shelf life is based on the manufacture date, not the purchase date. The manufacture date can be found on a sticker on the back or underside of the seat. It will typically include the model name, date of manufacture, and expiration date. If there is no sticker, the seat should not be used. Expired car seats may not protect children properly in a crash.

Why Do Car Seats Expire?

There are a few key reasons car seat materials break down over time:

  • Plastic and metal components can become brittle and weak. They may not withstand crash forces after prolonged use.
  • Fabric and padding materials wear down. This can reduce their ability to protect in an impact.
  • Over time, the adhesives and harness straps lose elasticity. They may not hold as securely.
  • Safety regulations and technologies change. Using an outdated seat means missing safety improvements.
  • Wear and tear through regular use takes a toll. Even if unseen, it impacts safety.

Following the 6 year guideline ensures your Graco car seat maintains its protective abilities over your child’s early years.

Does Graco Have Different Shelf Lives Per Seat?

Nearly all Graco car seats have a 6 year shelf life from the manufacture date. However, there are a couple exceptions:

  1. The Graco TurboBooster has a 7 year expiration after the make date.
  2. Infant-only seats, like the SnugRide models, typically have a 5-6 year expiration.
  3. Make sure to check your specific seat’s sticker or manual for its shelf life if it varies from the standard 6 years.

Following the recommended timeframe for your particular Graco model ensures your seat is not used past its safe usefulness.

How Can You Determine the Manufacture Date?

Graco car seats have clear manufacture date stickers to help determine when they expire:

  • Back of the seat: The most common place to find the sticker is on the back of the seat. Check near the bottom.
  • Underside of the seat: For some models, the sticker is found after flipping the seat over to view the bottom surface.
  • Sides: Occasionally, the manufacture sticker may be placed on the outer sides.
  • User manual: The date is typically printed somewhere in the user guide as well.
  • Unsure? Contact Graco for help identifying the manufacture date if you cannot locate the sticker.

Note the model name, date, and expiration to ensure you do not use an expired seat.

What Happens When Graco Car Seats Expire?

While car seats do not immediately become unsafe on their expiration date, there are a few precautions to take:

  • The seat’s protective abilities slowly decline after expiration. It may not adequately safeguard in a crash.
  • Plastic and metal components tend to crack and bend more easily outside the 6 year window.
  • Fabric tears more readily, lessening padding for your child.
  • Adhesives weaken, so the seat may come apart more easily.
  • Harnesses loosen and can malfunction without proper tension.

You cannot guarantee a seat past its expiration provides real protection. Get a new Graco seat to ensure your child’s safety.

Can Older Graco Car Seats Be Used Safely?

It is not recommended to use outdated Graco car seats for a few key reasons:

  1. Safety standards change, so they may lack important updated features that better protect kids.
  2. Graco cannot guarantee seats used past expiration dates still perform as they should.
  3. The materials degrade over time, even without visible wear. This reduces crash protection.
  4. Using hand-me-down seats from others makes verifying the manufacture date difficult.
  5. There have been safety improvements to car seats over the years you would miss out on.

While they may seem okay physically, outdated seats should not be used. Get a replacement to best protect your child.

Are There Exceptions to the Expiration Dates?

The only exception Graco allows past the expiration date is:

  • If the car seat is left unused in storage, it may have some additional life past 6 years.
  • For seats expired less than 5 years ago, you may get an exception letter from Graco to continue using it.
  • There are no exceptions for normal everyday use past the printed expiration date.

Unless you have written approval from the manufacturer, a seat should not be used beyond its listed shelf life. This helps avoid putting children at risk.

How Can You Extend the Life of Your Graco Seat?

To maximize your Graco car seat’s 6 year lifespan:

Store it inside your home rather than in a hot garage or cold car trunk. Temperature extremes break down materials quicker. Wash the fabric covers gently and air dry to avoid excess wear. Check for recalls and replace any parts that become worn out as needed. Avoid using hand-me-down seats. The age is difficult to verify. Purchase new instead. Read the manual for tips on proper use and cleaning to prevent unnecessary damage. With some care and maintenance, your Graco seat should easily last until its expiration date without issue.

What Are the Signs a Seat is Expired or Failing?

Watch for these signs your Graco car seat is expired or unsafe:

  • Missing manufacture date sticker: Any seat without an expiration label should not be used.
  • Past expiration date: Do not use if 6+ years old for most models. Check your manual.
  • Fading, fraying, or tearing fabric
  • Dislodged pads or stuffing coming out
  • Loose or damaged harness straps
  • Cracked plastic pieces
  • Difficulty securing buckles or adjustments
  • Broken or malfunctioning components
  • Missing parts like chest clips or straps

Replace immediately if you notice any of these issues with deterioration or damage.

What Are the Best Practices When Replacing an Expired Seat?

Follow these tips when purchasing a new Graco car seat:

  1. Consult your car manual for recommended locations to install the seat for optimal safety.
  2. Review crash stats to pick the safest seat type for your child’s age, weight, and height.
  3. Register the seat online with Graco so you’re notified of any future recalls.
  4. Return your expired seat to a recycling center so it does not end up reused unsafely.
  5. Learn proper installation and harnessing from a certified technician to ensure correct use.
  6. Check the manufacture date to gauge the new seat’s 6 year lifespan.

Taking a few key steps helps ensure your new investment provides years of reliable protection.

Top Graco Models by Category

These top-rated Graco models are parent favorites in key categories:

Graco Infant Seats

  • SnugRide SnugLock 35
  • SnugRide SnugLock 35 LX
  • SnugRide SnugLock 35 DLX

Graco Convertible Seats

  • Nautilus 65 LX 3-in-1
  • Extend2Fit Convertible
  • Milestone All-in-1

Graco Booster Seats

  • TurboBooster Highback
  • TurboBooster Backless
  • Affix Youth Booster

Graco All-in-One

  • Sequence 65
  • SlimFit 3-in-1
  • Contender 65

Graco Lightweight

  • Contender 65
  • SnugRide SnugLock 35
  • Nautilus SnugLock LX 3-in-1

Be sure to verify the manufacture date regardless of which Graco model you select. Avoid using or purchasing expired seats.

Common Questions about Graco Car Seat Expiration

Parents often have additional questions about when to replace Graco car seats:

Does Graco replace expired seats?

No, there is no replacement program. You must purchase a new seat once the current one expires.

Can you still use the LATCH system past 6 years?

LATCH may remain functional but the seat integrity cannot be guaranteed after expiration.

Do car seat protections fade gradually or all at once at 6 years?

The decline happens slowly over time rather than abruptly. But there’s no way to evaluate the level of safety past its useful life.

If my carseat was rarely used, can I go past the expiration date?

The materials still degrade over time, even with minimal use. The expiration date should be followed.

What is the fine for using an expired car seat?

Fines, if any, depend on local laws. But the bigger risk is your child’s safety.

Be sure to replace your Graco car seat by the manufacture date listed to keep your child protected. Do not take exceptions to their published expiration guidelines.

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