Like I alluded to before, having a child is a learning experience. And what I learned yesterday has me puzzled. Did you know child car seats have expiration dates? Yup, just like milk and sour cream, the car seat will expire... Somebody help me with this concept. The way it was explained to me, is that the 'recommendation' is that 'due to normal wear and tear', car seats should be retired from service and destroyed after 5 years. It goes without saying that after the 'retired from service and destroyed' there is the 'replaced' or 'buy a new one' that went unsaid... How convienent for the manufacturers of these seats. Hell, why doesnt everyone who makes/ markets and sells anything slap an expiration date on their product? Maybe the bailout car companies should start doing that with their cars... "Our recommendation is to replace our POS cars every 5 years, due to 'normal wear and tear'". The way I see it, that'll pretty much insure people will continue to buy cars, and guarantee profits for years to come.
Now, I havent reverse engineered the car seat, but as far as I can tell, it is mainly constructed of plastic, fabric, and probably foam padding with a tiny bit of metal mixed in there. Lets start with the plastic. What part of this plastic is subject to loading during 'normal wear and tear'? Its supporting an infant who weights approx. 7-15 lbs. You're telling me you constructed these seats with plastic that cant support 7-15 lbs, without deteriorating? And the fabric... and I'm talking about the fabric used on the tiny harness that secures the infant to the seat. It appears to me that this fabric is similar to the fabric used to manufacture regular occupant restraint systems in vehicles... IE: Every seatbelt out there, which are used to restain adults... So, if it is indeed the same fabric, how could this stuff lose its structural integrity in 5 years when regular seatbelts, subjected to far greater loads (picture a 250 lb adult in a 35mph frontal collision) dont have an expiration date? And if it aint the same fabric, WTF... Use the same fabric...
I'm going out on a limb here and guessing that the expiration of these seats have nothing to do with the cloth 'upholstry' or comfort padding under the upholstry.
Now, to be honest, I havent scoured the NHTSA archives to review and compare crash tests performed on new car seats and those that are 5 years and 1 day old. But I'm guessing the occupant acceleration plots wont look that different.
Hmm, I got an idea for my next research project.