What To Do With Expired Car Seats?

Your child is too big for his car seat and you aren’t planning to have any more kids. You know that second hand car seats are not necessarily saleable. So what can you do with the old car seat? Is it simply destined for the trash? The answer is: not necessarily.

There are several options depending on the expiration date and condition of the car seat. Let’s take a look at how you can free the space the car seat is taking up and reclaim the space in your house.

First Check Whether It is Expired

You should not use an expired car seat for another child because it is no longer safe. Car seats have parts which will degrade from wear and tear, which is why they have expiration dates printed on the back or underneath. There will be a sticker or printed date. If not, check the instruction manual and it should be in there.

Can You Reuse Car Seats?

Although sometimes car seats are reused, it is not a good idea unless you know the quality and history of the car seat. If one of your kids has outgrown a car seat after a few months, it might be fine to use for the next eldest. Buying a used car seat online however comes with no such assurances because you can’t be certain with regard to its history.

You can reuse a car seat as long as the following criteria are met:

  • It hasn’t been in an accident: a minor car accident might not destroy the integrity of a car seat, but one which was in a moderate or bad crash is likely to be compromised and should be replaced with a new one. Some manufacturers will advise you to replace the seat after any crash regardless as to its severity.
  • It isn’t expired: technically a car seat is still safe to use until the expiration date. It might be best to stop using it a month or so before this date, just to be on the safe side.
  • It’s in good condition: check for wear and tear, or any broken parts. Inspect underneath the fabric, and remember even a tiny crack can make it unsafe for further use.
  • It’s clean: if you plan to reuse the car seat, you should give it a good wash, especially if it has been packed away for a while and might have mold, mildew or dust on it, or a less-than-fresh smell.

You must be careful when using a secondhand car seat and give it a proper inspection to ensure there is no damage before using it. It is also important to register the seat, so you can be contacted should there ever be a recall on it. You can check for current recalls online if you haven’t registered yours yet.

Things To Do With Expired Car Seats

Even if your seat is expired or has been in a moderate or bad crash, there are still alternative to tossing it in the trash. Let’s take a look at some of these options.

1) Trade-In Events

Target holds car seat trade-in events every few months, where you can bring an old car seat, or one that isn’t suitable for sale, and get a coupon for it.

The coupon can be redeemed against a new car seat, giving you 20% off the price.

If you don’t need another one, you can also redeem it against a stroller or another baby item.

Target has been doing this for 4 years so far, and it is always popular. There might also be other big-box stores doing this.

What do they do with all these old car seats? They recycle them into other products like buckets, pallets and construction materials.

Trading in the car seat is a great option because you get a coupon off another product for handing over something you can’t sell anyway!

2) Donation

Although most places won’t accept used car seats (because they can’t be sure if they are still safe to use), some will.

You will need to be clear with them about the condition of the seat.

Local charities or women’s shelters might be happy to get it, or church organizations who will know needy families who might appreciate it.

Foster families are often short on things like car seats.

Child passenger safety technicians (CPSTs) have been trained on car seat safety as well as knowing how to safely install them.

They teach parents when buying their first car seat, so reach out to a local CPST. Maybe your old seat can be used in their demonstrations.

3) Correct Recycling Protocol

Instead of tossing the old seat in the trash, you might prefer to recycle it.

Call your local recycling center first to inquire whether plastics from old car seats are something they accept.

If so, ask how they prefer to receive the car seat. They might say they want it totally broken down or they only want the naked frame.

You can remove the unwanted parts.

First take off the cover and then take off any straps, fabric or padding. Use scissors to cut out the harness straps.

You can toss these parts in the trash, since they probably aren’t recyclable.

You’ll probably need a screwdriver to remove as much of the metal from the seat as you can, although not all recycling centers require you to do this; some will do it themselves.

4) Correct Trash Protocol

If the seat can’t be traded in, recycled, donated or even sold in pawn shop you will need to toss it out.

There are some guidelines on how to do that properly.

Remove the padding and foam, then cut the straps off.

Remove any metal parts, then mark ‘expired’ or ‘unsafe’ on the bare plastic so nobody will find and try to reuse it.

It can then be put out with the rest of your trash.

So, rather than just keeping an old car seat in the house or garage, taking up precious space, you can decide on one of the above options, depending on the condition of the seat.


As you can see there are plenty of things that you can do with expired car seats. I hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful.

If you have any questions feel free to leave comment below.

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