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to be cynical about carseat expiry dates

(45 Posts)
mikado1 Tue 21-Jul-15 21:12:04

We have a maxicosi which is 5 years old but apparently it has 'expired' and is therefore not 100% safe. What do you think of this?

maz210 Tue 21-Jul-15 21:18:58

I can't see how it would be any less safe than it was at 4 years and 51 weeks.

However, car seats are under constant development so perhaps they do the expiry date because after 5 years there are likely to be safer car seats on the market?

I'd probably ignore the expiry if I'd had it from new and had looked after it.

Weareboatsremember Tue 21-Jul-15 21:21:13

I heard it was something to do with the life of the polystyrene rather than something arbitrary. I'd rather pay out £80 every 5 years than risk the worst happening in a car crash.

unlucky83 Tue 21-Jul-15 21:21:32

Which did a test with a few years with a 10 yo Britax - and it was scary - basically the plastic shattered and the harness came out .
Having said that the reason they have expiry dates is the plastic gets brittle/ages in the sun. So I had one that was out of date but had been stored in a cupboard (stable temp) that was a couple of years out of date that didn't worry me overly as a spare for around town driving in DP's car (so rarely used). I would say they must build in a huge margin of error...
I did buy a new one for my car (motorway driving and used all the time) though.
I think the biggest issue is why they can't make them last longer? Normal car seats last longer than 10yrs even ...all the car seats ending up in landfill is ridiculous.

Perissa Tue 21-Jul-15 21:22:31

Isn't it supposed to be to do with the plastic degrading over time so it will no longer provide adequate protection in a crash.

Aeroflotgirl Tue 21-Jul-15 21:23:13

I wasent aware there was expiry dates, unless they have been in an accident or are damaged, they are fine to use. Ds is using dd high back booster that is about 7 years old.

mrsnoon Tue 21-Jul-15 21:23:19

I've read somewhere its to do with the stress on the body of the seat caused by the force of being held by seatbelts etc. With that in mind I am now using the infant carrier my eldest son used 3/4 times a week for a year for my youngest now. We have a 4 year age gap and I'm not that concerned.

GGabcd Tue 21-Jul-15 21:24:38

Plastic fatigues. It eventually loses its integrity.

DadfromUncle Tue 21-Jul-15 21:26:15

YANBU - expiry dates are twaddle - what's the expiry date on my driver's seat?

There are lots of things like this that are just designed to try and guilt you into buying the latest thing.

crumblybiscuits Tue 21-Jul-15 21:26:41

I would never risk it, I don't know why anyone would. Car seats are constantly changing and safety is getting higher and higher with every new model brought out. I will never understand why people buy second hand expired car seats. Car seat safety is so important, I stick to all the rules.

"Safety standards change over time as safer technology is developed. Expiration dates not only alert you to the possibility that your car seat may be worn out, but they also provide an opportunity for you to buy a new seat that is safer for your child." This was what I found when I googled it.

MrsWooster Tue 21-Jul-15 21:28:56

YANBU. Cars are safer than they have ever been, basic, standard and, yes, even old carseats are safe. ]
There can't NOT be a correlation between manufacturers' need to sell and sell and the constant minor 'upgrades' that are presented as absolutely necessary.
I'm going to duck for cover now as I am sure that a flaming is forthcoming.
In fact, as I am off, I shall add that When We Were Young there were no such things as carseats (fuck knows how they managed to stop us wreaking havoc) and things were by and large ok.
In for a penny: pedestrian deaths on the road were far higher in the 1950s than they are now (on Radio 4 so it must be true) so send your kids back out to play and generally, everybody, stop being so BLOODY CAREFUL.
God, that feels good.

mikado1 Tue 21-Jul-15 21:30:37

Yes I can see all the different points. In our case we got it from a friend who had used it for 1.5 years, we did same and it has been stored in attic since. We got a new one so this would be the rarely used/short trips one. Apparently it's not even to do with when you start using it but from date of manufacture so it could be sitting on the shelf in shop for a year before you buy it.

Koalafications Tue 21-Jul-15 21:33:01

In fact, as I am off, I shall add that When We Were Young there were no such things as carseats (fuck knows how they managed to stop us wreaking havoc) and things were by and large ok.

How many cars were on the road when you were young? I'm assuming a lot less than there are now?

CatsRule Tue 21-Jul-15 21:33:26

Do they use different plastic/polystyrene in the 9months to 7 years seats that convert?

I want to say it's a money making thing but you can't put a price on your childs safety!

crumblybiscuits Tue 21-Jul-15 21:36:59

"What makes one car seat last longer than another?
The type of materials used in a car seat effect the expiration date and how the seat will perform in a crash or wear over time. Depending on the type, the design, the kind of installation, and the materials used to make the car seat all affect how long the seat will last and how safe it is in a crash."

Username359185 Tue 21-Jul-15 21:37:14

We have stage 0-3 or whatever it is car seats - so basically they're supposed to last from 9 months to 11 or 12 years. How does that work?

mikado1 Tue 21-Jul-15 21:40:05

Probably works for age of children but still need to check expiry. It's supposed to be stamped on bottom of seat, although there's none on either of ours.

MrsWooster Tue 21-Jul-15 21:42:42

Koala there were several, but the men with the red flags used to keep them in order.
Ta ra

hedgehogsdontbite Tue 21-Jul-15 21:54:48

DH is a scientist and one of his specialities is plastics. He says that over time the plastic becomes brittle as a result of fluctuating temperatures throughout the year. Once this happens the seats are not safe. You can't tell if it is failing by looking at, it would have to be tested in a lab. So the seats have an expiry date which errs on the side of caution. It could still be safe 10 or 20 years later, but you have no way of knowing.

unlucky83 Tue 21-Jul-15 21:57:17

That's the other point - you could get high backed boosters that do from 9months (iirc) to 11 yrs old - so some must last longer than 5yrs!!
At the same time which did a test of those high backed booster type car seats that used adult seat belts on 9 month olds and that was also horrific - on a corner impact at 40 the child was flung out the seat sad - I really hope that kind of seat is no longer available (ones with a harness that fitted in the same type seat were ok though - but they did conclude that the safest seats were ones that were just for one group - and some of the most expensive seats did really badly)
I think I would be least concerned about booster seats that use the adult seat belt on an older child. I have a narrow, lightweight booster that I bought to take on holiday for an older child (cost £5 - visiting relatives overseas so it was take one or buy one there) - it doesn't have arms -literally it is just a slab of polystyrene in a cover - I can't see how that can degrade and become less safe? I guess it must be like those booster back packs you can get now.
I remember my brothers in the 70s had harnesses that were fitted onto a standard car seat (in those days I don't think that car had normal seat belts in back!) - my dad had to fit them and you couldn't take them out but I can't see why we can't have something similar now for babies/children from forward facing age - maybe fitted into some kind of shell. The harness bit wouldn't be held by plastic so no stress/deterioration and they should be safe after a crash and not have an expiry....
But then child car seats are massive business - so I can't see any company having an incentive to design a seat that actually lasted more than one child ...
(Sorry I know I am a car seat bore - but this might be helpful to someone -maybe with an older car? When DD2 was little I used to have a ford escort and it was a nightmare to get a car seat to fit as the adult belt clip part (part with the red bit -don't know what they are called!) were on long straps - there was literally one seat I could get that didn't give me 'buckle crunch', it was expensive and also self tensioning - (which from reviews failed and then you were stuck with a car seat you couldn't secure properly until you could take it back - what were you supposed to do with DCs in the meantime? hmm.) I even went to see the police seat belt check people - they recommended that I fastened one in using the buckle from another seat in the back - but that meant I could only have DD2 in the back and had to have 6yo DD1 in the front (with an airbag). In the end I got my MOT garage to readjust the adult seat belts - which turned out really easily done and cost something like £20)

CalleighDoodle Tue 21-Jul-15 22:05:32

On the speed awareness course i attended they gave a number of reasons for the reduction in traffic accident deaths. Aside from the busyness of the roads, the
Main one was paramedics. Highly trained medical professionals. No longer just ambulance drivers to get you from the accident to hospital with a bit of first aid. Paramedics save lives.

Metacentric Tue 21-Jul-15 22:07:04

YANBU - expiry dates are twaddle - what's the expiry date on my driver's seat?

I'm pretty sceptical about a lot of things about child seats, but the idea that plastic shells which are structurally loaded fatigue is entirely sensible.

Your car seat is a metal frame which is subject to very little loading other than your own weight, and the consequences of it failing are pretty benign. In an accident you're mostly located by your seatbelt, which is secured to the structure of the car, not to the seat. In a very high energy impact from the rear it would be bad news if your seat collapsed backwards, but because the back of your seat is hinged by the back adjuster there's no serious fatigue risk there. Sideways you're located by your seatbelt, and in a frontal impact you're again located by your seat belt (in both cases, airbags also do some of the work).

In the case of a child seat, the seat is located by either isofix or the car's seatbelts, and the child is then located in the seat by a separate harness. The plastic structure which joins the child's harness to the mounting points is utterly vital to the child's safety: if that fails, the child is at immense risk. Plastics light enough to handle have a finite life, especially if exposed to heat and/or UV.

Competition seats are more structural for the driver, and unsurprisingly, the FIA standard for homologating competition seat has a five year limit:

7. Seat life:
The usable life of an FIA homologated seat will be 5 years from the date of manufacture indicated on the seat label.
An extension of up to 2 further years may be authorised where the seat has been returned to the manufacturer for re-validation. Extensions will be indicated by an additional label affixed to the seat identifying the date on which the seat eligibility ceases, and validated by the manufacturer's quality inspection stamp.

Metacentric Tue 21-Jul-15 22:10:55

In fact, as I am off, I shall add that When We Were Young there were no such things as carseats (fuck knows how they managed to stop us wreaking havoc) and things were by and large ok.

Massively more deaths on the roads with massively fewer cars.

And those that knew about safety were very keen on belts and child seats. See if you can guess who the adult is, and who the child is, in this photograph from the early 1960s.

StaircaseAtTheUniversity Tue 21-Jul-15 22:16:46

Interested to know the answer now metacentric

Metacentric Tue 21-Jul-15 22:24:07

The father is Graham Hill, Formula 1 world champion in 1962 and 1968.

The child is Damon Hill, Formula 1 world champion in 1996.

Damon looks to be, what, two? He was born in 1960, it's presumably a picture from around 1962.

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