What to Do With Old Car Seats? Can you Reuse them?

What to Do With Old Car Seats

Car seats used for children should be used with certain restrictions. This is where the question of what to do with old car seats arises. There are different options to consider, when the car seat is no longer needed, to properly dispose of them.

The condition of the seat and its expiration date are two important aspects to consider. These seats must be used safely, so they cannot always be reused and in some cases, you will have to opt for recycling.

Has the chair expired?

The first thing to do is to check the expiration date of the seat. In case the seat has expired, it cannot be used to carry a child in the car. This is because the parts will weaken and break due to wear and tear over time, which makes them less safe.

The expiration dates will indicate the average shelf life of the seat. To find the expiration date, turn the seat upside down and look at the back or bottom. It is usually printed on a sticker, or engraved directly on the plastic. It can also be found inside the instruction manual.

Is it possible to reuse a car seat?

In some cases, the seats can be reused. It is not recommended to resell or buy used seats because we cannot be sure of their quality. If it is used for your own family then it can be done, however, the following must be taken into account:

Expiration date

According to the manufacturer's recommendations, the seat can be used without any inconvenience until its expiration date. However, it is best not to use it within a month or two before the expiration date. It is better to replace the seat in these cases to avoid accidents.

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Minor crashes do not automatically result in damage to the integrity of the safety seats. However, if the seat has been in a moderate to severe crash, immediate replacement is recommended.

Some manufacturers even recommend replacing the seat even in minor crashes. It is best to check with your vehicle's insurance company, as they may sometimes cover the cost of a replacement seat.


Whenever you are going to reuse a car seat, make sure it is always clean. Follow the cleaning instructions in the car seat manual. It is especially important to clean it when it has been stored for a long time.

Good condition

The complete integrity of the seat must be verified, and the parts must be checked to ensure that they are in good condition. If the parts are broken or worn, they simply cannot be used because they pose a safety risk.

It is best to look under the fabric cover for a complete inspection. Any damage or nicks, no matter how small, can render the seat unusable.

When you are going to use a second-hand seat, you must be very careful. The review that must be done is thorough because you have to make sure that it has no damage before using it. In addition, you should always find out if any specific model has been withdrawn from the market, and in case you have this model, you should avoid using it.

How to dispose of a used car seat?

In case the vehicle seat definitely cannot be used again by you, we will have different options such as:

Exchange events

At some stores like Target, we can find seat exchange events throughout the year. The trade-in usually consists of bringing in your old car seat and getting a coupon in exchange.

Depending on the event it can be a coupon for up to 20% off to buy another new seat. These exchange seats are recycled and their materials are used to manufacture other elements. These types of events are highly recommended because you will get rid of your old seat for sure.

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When we talk about used car seats the demands are usually high, even if they are in good condition. Some organizations will accept them, and you should always be honest about the condition they are in.

Some charities such as women's shelters, church organizations, or local CPSTs may accept them.

However, you should always contact them before taking them to make sure they will receive them.


Instead of throwing these types of seats in the trash, it can be a very good option to recycle them. To do this, we should look for a nearby recycling center, and verify the recycling guidelines that the center has.

Some parts such as the cover and padding should be removed from the seat, as well as the harness straps. The recyclable parts are the plastic ones, and the rest will have to go in the trash. If the seat has metal parts, these should also be removed. This should only be done if the recycling center requires it because some do this part on their own.

What to do if the seat cannot be recycled, donated, or exchanged in a store?

If all of the above alternatives fail, the only thing left to do is to throw it away. However, to do this, specific guidelines must be followed, which may be similar to those for recycling. The main ones are the following, in order to dispose of it efficiently:

  • Remove additional padding and foam.
  • Cut the straps.
  • Remove all metal parts of the seat.
  • The seat should be marked "Not Safe" or "Expired" on the bare plastic. This way, other people won't be tempted to reuse it, and you can finally put it with the rest of your trash.

It is recommended to follow these guidelines because this is the proper way in which you will be able to throw your seat in the trash without causing damage or harm to other people.

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