Car seats don’t last a lifetime.

The reasons are many. But mainly, it’s because materials used degrade over time. Plastic and metal are the two main components of a car seat. The former turns brittle while the latter gathers rust after an extended period.

Most car seats usually last at least six years. Some models though, are suitable for use up to ten years. The good news is that it’s so easy to find out how long a car seat is good for.

You can look for the car seat expiration date that’s usually somewhere on the base of the seat. You can also find it on the registration card. Lastly, the manufacturer will be more than glad to provide you this information when you call them.

By the time that your child is ready to use your car’s seat belts, you will have ended with at least three car seats. That is if you bought an infant car seat, a forward-facing seat, and a booster seat. And yes, that’s also if you’re okay with just one child.

But if you have a larger family, you’ll most likely have more. According to Consumer Reports, most of the 12 million car seats bought in the US alone, go to landfills. I can’t stress enough had big of a number that is and how much it impacts the environment.

Read on to find out how you can help with this issue at hand.

How Do You Know If It’s Time To Get Rid Of A Car Seat?

The main reason why you should get rid of a car seat is when it’s already past its expiration date. But if the car seat is not yet expired, how do you know if it’s time to get rid of it? Here are a few scenarios when you MUST let it go.

  • Get rid of a car seat if it has been involved in an accident regardless if it’s just mild. You’ll never know if the structural integrity of it has been affected.
  • It’s time to let go of a car seat when your little one has already met the height/weight requirement for it. A good example is when your little one is ready to change to a forward-facing seat from an infant car seat.
  • If you notice that some parts of the car seat are missing and you can’t find replacements, it’s safer to get a new one.
  • If the car seat was recalled, but the issue wasn’t resolved, stop using the car seat. It’s a must that you make yourself aware if your car seat is part of a recall and take action. This is a rare case though.

And getting rid of it doesn’t mean that you should pass it onto someone else. It’s just not right to let another family use a car seat that’s not safe at all.

Reselling Or Giving Expired Or Old Car Seats As Gifts

Manufacturers and retail stores are not allowed by law to sell expired car seats. However, no definitive guidelines prohibit people from selling or giving away used/expired car seats.

It varies by state but using an expired car seat, unfortunately, is not entirely prohibited. You may get a ticket for using an expired child safety seat in some states. Some insurance companies will also not cover medical expenses if they found out that you’re using an expired seat.

Some advertisement websites like Craigslist, for instance, are against selling expired things including car seats. You may be able to get away with it, but someone can flag you for doing so.

Car Seat Trade-In Events

A trade-in event is a perfect place for parents to get rid of car seats. For starters, you’ll be able to help mother nature by recycling the seat and its parts. Second, you avoid the hassle of recycling it yourself. And third, you can usually get a discount on a new car seat if you trade-in your old one.

That’s hitting three birds with one stone!

Here are some of the much-awaited trade-in events that you can take advantage of.


Target and Terracycle recently held their second trade-in event this year. And that’s because of the massive success of their first event back in April. You can trade-in your expired car seats, and in return, you get a 20% off coupon for your next car seat purchase.

It’s not a whole-year event though so keep yourself updated on when the next trade-in is going to be.


If you can’t wait for another trade-in event, the BabyEarthRenew program is probably your best choice. If you no longer have a use for your car seat, stroller, or high chair, send it over to them. They’ll be more than willing to recycle these things for you.

You do need to pay for shipping, but in return, they’ll email you a $5 coupon for your next purchase.

What’s fantastic about the program is that you also help a global community. After dismantling your car seat, useful parts like fabrics, metals, plastic, and foams are sent to developing countries for construction projects.

The Great Trade-In Events of Toys “R” Us

From time to time, Toys “R” Us also holds trade-in events. They accept a more comprehensive selection of trade-in items aside from car seats like travel systems, bassinets, walkers, etc. You can even bring multiple ‘qualified’ items to trade-in for more perks.

The bonus? You still get a 15% off coupon even if you don’t have anything to trade-in.

Recycling Car Seats

If trade-in events are nowhere near their schedules yet, consider recycling them.

Unfortunately, most car seat recycling centers will not accept units that are still whole. That means you need to take the thing apart on your own. The problem though is that these things are made not to fall apart easily.

But with the right tools and the steps below, you should be able to do it. All it takes is patience, trust me.

  1. Cut off the fabric, foam padding, and harness straps from the seat. You’ll need a durable pair of scissors to do this.
  2. Remove as much metal as possible using a Phillips-head screwdriver. Do note, that some of metal parts are not removable.
  3. Take off the car seat cover as well as any padding underneath it.
  4. Discard the fabric, foam padding, straps, and mixed metal/plastic pieces and small plastic pieces.
  5. Mark the plastic as expired or unsafe.
  6. Recycle the bulky plastic body and all metal pieces

Luckily, up to 92% of a car seat is made of recyclable materials. Once you’ve taken the thing apart, you can take the usable parts to recycling centers near you. To avoid any hassle, you can contact the location first to check if they’ll take the materials you’d be bringing.

Throwing Away Old Car Seats

If all of the options above are not viable, you can just throw it away. However, make sure to it that the car seat is in an ‘unusable’ form when you do. You don’t want to risk someone else’s precious child getting hurt by using your old car seat.

The goal is to make the car seat look as if someone directed all of their anger into it. Kidding aside, that’s the safest thing to do.


Time flies that you’ll be surprised at how fast kids grow. Part of being a responsible parent is keeping your little one safe at all times. Car seats are there to do just that.

The other part of it is appropriately taking care of old or expired car seats.