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Expiry date of car seats - what is the official position not just hearsay?

(38 Posts)
blithedance Sat 01-Aug-09 16:02:53

In the loft I have a 2001-made Britax Club Class seat, passed on to me from a close and trusted friend. It's never been in an accident, although has been regularly used.

Now I find chatrooms/overseas websites saying car seats should be chucked after about 6 years. But the Britax UK website clearly says:

" Q: Is an old seat still safe?
This depends on the condition of the seat. If you bought the child seat yourself and you know its history, nothing speaks against a further use, but please ensure the seat fulfils the current standard for child safety systems (at least ECE R 44/03, new 44/04)."

I can't bring myself to throw something away that could be passed on and is within manufacturer's guidelines.

Does anyone know the official position on this in the UK and can link?

MerlinsBeard Sun 02-Aug-09 17:17:25

I think the actual actual advice is 6-10 years. I can't bloody find the fabulous links!! Of course every seat is different even the same make.

sazm Sun 02-Aug-09 17:42:34

tbh though,with all the research going on,
would you not prefer to buy a new one that has a much better safety rating and has been through more rigerous(sp) tests?
i know i would

blithedance Sun 02-Aug-09 17:43:35

Well it has not been kept in a car for 6 years, I know that for a fact.

I know plastic degrades in UV light (although "plastic" is a very broad term for many different polymers) - you only have to look at your old garden toys to see that.

In the building industry where I work, a rule was brought in to replace plastic hard hats every 3 years. This is because old guys on site were walking around in 10 year old hard hats they had been wearing day in day out in the blazing sun. So a good idea, but it means that if I have a hard hat I keep in my desk drawer and use about 5 times a year, that has to be thrown away after 3 years too. So one-rule-for-all is safe, but wasteful. And hard hats only cost £5!

In the end, the research I've done has sort of answered my question.

1. DH's suggestion was to freecycle it, since there are families out there who struggle to keep all their children is safe car seats and better that than nothing. But used car seats are banned on Freecycle, probably rightly, so I can't do that.

2. I'm not prepared to use it for my own child so I can't in all conscience expect someone else to. While browsing I looked at the Which videos on side impact protection, and realised that neither the seat that my DS2 currently uses, nor the old one, have very good side impact head protection for a taller child. So now I have two items to take to the tip which is even worse!

Interesting debate and I'm still very frustrated at the need to put something else that's nearly functional into landfill. But don't think I can avoid it this time sad!

sazm Sun 02-Aug-09 17:52:25

maybe freecycle has just changed this as i know we can put carseats on ours,

blithedance i think that is prob the best idea,seems silly i know,but if you pass it on through freecycle,the people who get it might keep it for a few yrs til their kids have grown up,and think its a nice thing to put it back on freecycle,
then it would be MUCH older,and the person who is happy to get it might be none the wiser to the age/safety implications,

blithedance Sun 02-Aug-09 17:58:16

I'm sorry but I still don't believe in the ageing plastic! But rules are rules. It could just be our local freecycle's rule.

"would you not prefer to buy a new one that has a much better safety rating and has been through more rigerous(sp) tests?"

Sorry but I don't think that's true. The safety tests have not changed since ECE R44.03 in about 1997 (I think that R44.04 was updated for useability rather than safety testing). I have a login to the British European standards website and will check this evening.

sazm Sun 02-Aug-09 18:01:44

from your post:

2. I'm not prepared to use it for my own child so I can't in all conscience expect someone else to. While browsing I looked at the Which videos on side impact protection, and realised that neither the seat that my DS2 currently uses, nor the old one, have very good side impact head protection for a taller child.

thats the point im making,seats dont have to have side impact protection to pass the safety tests (which i think is mad)
im not saying that the safety laws have changed,but there are newer seats which are tested more than just the legal requirement,(like having side impact protection)

reallywoundup Sun 02-Aug-09 18:12:08

can i just throw in my two pence worth- as a qualified fitter, i see a large number of dangerous and unsafe seats in my line of work- often seats from the 90's were made using a metal frame on the base- which in many cases rusts from the inside- so very often NOT SAFE.

Also- if there are no instructions to go with the seat how is anyone to know how to fit it? even modern seats people assume they know what they are doing and ignore the booklet which is why (just an example as it is the most commonly incorrectly fitted seat ime) i would say out of every 4 britax evolva's i check, i would say on average two are wrongly fitted.

I would never use a second hand seat or an old seat- this is the reason why maxi cosi do not make any multi stage seats- they claim that the use gained for example by the tobi from 9mnths to 4 yrs is sufficient usage before it should be replaced- its expensive but then again so is owning a car.

coolkat Sun 02-Aug-09 18:16:22

This is interesting as I have a Britax first class and Eclipse SI from 6 years ago, They were used for 2 years and then put in the loft. I had to order a new polysterene insert for the Eclipse one and emailed Britax with the information and they supplied the part within days. To me that was the ideal time to tell me it needed replacing and sell me a new one but they didn't. Something I felt was unecessary as they still sell this model of car seat in halfords. All the straps and plastic is in as new condition.

After reading this I am starting to question myself blush

blithedance Sun 02-Aug-09 18:35:44

Yes sazm I see what you mean. I have answered my own question haven't I?

In the end it's up to us as parents to comply with the legal minimum and make our own informed judgement about the rest.

reallywoundup to be fair the Britax seat had detailed stickers on it showing the seatbelt routing, and general guidance about tightening up straps etc surely that would be the same as the current model so you could download from website. But then I would do that because I'm obsessive about instructions, most people wouldn't.

It's not the expense that bothers me it's the waste. Here I am recycling every bleeding yoghurt pot and yet throwing away into landfill great big things like a car seat. Every 5 years x 2 children x 2 vehicles = 8 car seats by my reckoning. Great.

melrose Mon 03-Aug-09 11:05:09

So have people bought new seats for 2nd and 3rd chidren then? My car seats have all done 2 children and I would have been happy to use them for another child

reallywoundup Mon 03-Aug-09 11:26:04

i buy new seat per child per stage- admittedly i get a discount grin but i figure if i am going to put my children (who don't have a choice in the matter) in the dangerous position of being in a car on the open road, i owe it to them to provide the safest environment i possibly can.

However i fully understand that some people may not be able to do that and therefore i am not judging.

i also find it unbelievable that ebay won't allow used nappies (which can be fully santised etc) to be sold on its auction site- but will allow the sale of potentially life threatening second hand car seats.

It is up to the parent at the end of the day.

kellyatbabyguds Mon 03-Aug-09 16:13:01

I have just had a conversation regarding this with Maxi Cosi and they say that they will not repair or replace any parts on a seat over 5 years old as they can not say what effect sun and moisture has on the plastics.

The basic level for legal requirements are relatively low hence the reason some seats can be sold for as little as £30 but if you compare these to a Britax seat for instance and see the crash test results its frightening! We never know how safe a car seat is until the worst happens so I have invested in new seats for my dc at each stage and for each child so that I can offer them the best protection.

maker Mon 28-Jan-13 11:06:19

Plastic materials degrade, fact

In use in a car they are subjected to constant temp changes, and magnified UV levels from the car glass, this accelerates the breakdown of plastics.

Plastics when made have inhibitors added by those companies who know what they're doing, to try and reduce this and then they will also test the break down. This is usually to ensure the life of the seats to 7 years, and why in the US they normally state something like 5 or 6 years life on seats.

There is no legal requirement to do this in Europe, only in the US, but I know a number of brands who use inhibitors and a number of them that don't.

Having worked for a number of car seat companies over the years, would I used a seat beyond 5 years? Yes, but for no more than 10 years mostly due to the advances in development, but also down to the fact that plastics do not last and its just not worth the risk.

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