As a rule of thumb, it has been recommend that parents discard children's car seats that are over 6 years old. Consumer Reports Safety Blog reports that an upcoming product recall by Dorel will reinforce this rule.
CR writes that next week, Dorel Juvenile Group (DJG) will announce a product recall of more than four million Cosco and Eddie Bauer car seats. The models affected are Cosco Alpha/Omega, Touriva and Hi Back and Eddie Bauer Touriva and Hi Back car seats.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are two problems with the recalled seats. First, the webbing on 3,957,826 Dorel seats fails to conform to standards for abrasion; and second, the webbing on 54,400 car seats may degrade when exposed to sunlight. The result of both problems is the possibility the seats won’t provide sufficient protection in a crash.
CR's Safety Blog reports that the recall has been seven years in the making. In fact, they write, the model numbers under recall are all eight to ten years old. Usually, this means the children the seats were originally purchased for are starting to dream about sitting behind the wheel, but even so, consumers may be using the seats longer than is safe. There are no expiration dates attached to the seats under recall as there are on the newer models. And, due to the “tough economic times,” NHTSA says, people are likely to hang onto them longer than they should.
The model numbers that will be under recall can be found on the NHTSA's website by searching under campaign number 02C026000. Back to the rule of thumb, as CR reminds us, components of a child care seat are likely to degrade under normal wear and tear. Replacing the webbing or other parts specifically listed is not the best way to ensure the safety of the seat's occupant. The best option is to replace seats after the six year point has been reached.