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The official answer is yes, booster seats expire.
I do not necessarily agree with it, because like you said, no straps to rip out of a shell, the booster is just a hunk of plastic boosting the child up to fit adult belts properly.
Originally Posted by skaterbabscpst :
Yes, the do expire. They don't take the same KIND of force as a harnessed seat in a crash, but they do absorb *some* force. I would not use an expired booster.
ALthough I can see why some people question it.
Some car seat manufacturers give an expiration date to all of their car seats, reagardless of crash force use. Expiration of car seats is based on several factors, one of which is degradation of the plastic due to temperature cycling. A six year expiration date is a conservative estimate of when plastic strength begins to degrade. Some manufacturers have 8 year expirations. It is best to check the manual of your particular brand, or sometimes, as with some Evenflos and Gracos, the back of the seat will have a stamped expiration stating "Do not use this seat after x date."
Boosters do not expire for the same reasons applied to convertible or infant seats. The issue with the harnessed seats is that the plastic where the harness is threaded takes a tremendous amount of the crash force during a crash. If the plastic has become brittle (something that can not be seen with the naked eye), then there is a possibility of the harness ripping out of
the seat back during a crash and essentially freeing the child from the harness.
This issue is not a factor with Boosters. Particulary, a backless booster, which does nothing more than position a child higher in the seat so that the lap and shoulder belt are positioned correctly. Some have argued that a high back booster takes or absorbs some crash load. However, to my knowledge, there is no hard evidence for this view. The seat belt takes the crash load when children are in a booster. Crash forces are directed forward in the most common type of crash, away from the booster. Indeed, that is why boosters are supposed to be light weight so that they do not apply additional load to the back of the child (as they are not attached in any way to the car). There may be some exceptions, as there are to any view.
I disagree. Part if the purpose of the booster is to lesson the force on the immature hip bones of a child - so the booster dos absorbg siginifcant force, especially if we're talking about a LOW-back booster in which the "armrests" are really belt guides.
As I have been unable to find information relating to boosters absorbing force, where is the information that the booster takes force away from hip bones. This just doesn't seem logical to me. If the child is moving forward in a crash, the hips will impact the seat belt, and there would be no forward force caused by the child's weight that is reduced or taken up by the arm rests (as the booster is moving in the same direction as the child). The object that is stopping the child is the seat belt. Load would likely be measured at the points of impact, the child's hips and chest.
The whole point of a booster is so the seat belt can do the job it is supposed to do, keep the passenger in the vehicle and ride down the crash force. A booster positions the occupant correctly, so the seat belt works properly. Absent additional features, such as side impact protection (which might degrade) a general booster seat should not expire.