Revised: September 20, 2016
The MACPS encourages adherence to expiration dates as stated by each car seat manufacturer for its car seats. Expiration dates are provided for some or all of the following reasons:
- Because the plastic shell and other components may degrade over time if the car seat has been improperly used or stored in an adverse environment for a prolonged period of time.
- Because exposure of components to many environmental factors including food, drinks, dirt and debris, cleaners and other contaminants may cause degradation of the seat’s effectiveness.
- Because parts of the seat may be lost, installed incorrectly or damaged from potential wear and tear.
- Because instructions or labels may not be available or no longer be legible.
- Because instructions for use may have been updated or enhanced, but may not be relevant for older models of the product.
The benefits of expiration dates include:
- Phasing out older seats to ensure that as many of the car seats in circulation as possible benefit from new advancements in safety and technology and incorporate the latest regulatory requirements.
- Discouraging second hand car seat use and helping to move recalled products out of circulation.
Accessories / Non-Regulated Products
Never use accessories that are not specifically recommended by your car seat manufacturer for use with your car seat. The safety and performance of your car seat and or the vehicle seat belt may be diminished. Check your instructional manual, consult with customer service or review the website of the manufacturer for your car seat and your vehicle before using any child restraint accessory.
Recline Angle Indicators
Recline indicators on car seats are set by the individual manufacturer based on protection of the child and performance of the car seat in crash testing. The recline indicator on a car seat should always be followed. If there is a compatibility issue with the recline indicator, the specific car seat manufacturer should be contacted. Never go against the recline indicator without written permission from the car seat manufacturer.
Switchable Retractor and Belt-Positioning Boosters
If the vehicle manufacturer permits, the MACPS does not prohibit using the vehicle retractor in the locked mode with a belt-positioning booster. FMVSS 213 test setup uses a “locked” belt for certification testing.
IIHS Video – Using a Belt-Positioning Boosters with Lap Only Belt
The MACPS does not endorse the IIHS video stating it is ok to use a belt-positioning booster seat with a lap-belt only. NEVER use a belt-positioning booster with a lap only belt, a lap-shoulder belt must be used.
Installing 3 Car Seats Across the Back Seat
The MACPS recommends the following conditions be met when installing 3 car seats across the back seat:
- Each seat must achieve a tight installation, as described in the instructions and CPS standardized curriculum.
- The positions of the car seats on the vehicle seat are not changed by the contact. That is, they still align properly with respect to the seat belt or LATCH anchors that secure them and do not overlap the adjacent car seat.
- If the vehicle seat is adjustable front-to-back, both portions of the vehicle seat must be adjusted to the same position so that the anchor points for any single seating position are not staggered.
- Only one lower connector is connected to a single lower anchor point unless otherwise allowed by the vehicle manufacturer.
- There is no contact or force that would bend or deform any of the car seats.
- The lower anchor belt or seat belts used to install each seat do not rub on each other or crossover in a way that they interfere with each other.
Car Seats Gate-Checked or Checked as Luggage
Car seats are designed to withstand most motor vehicle crash forces. In general, the MACPS does not consider a gate-checked car seat or a car seat that is checked as luggage to be one that has experienced forces equivalent to a motor vehicle crash. Once the destination is reached, it is recommended to inspect the car seat to make sure no visual damage has occurred and all aspects of the car seat function properly.
Car Seats and Recreational Vehicles (RVs)
Car seats are designed for the FMVSS 213 bench and motor vehicle seats meeting the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard definitions of ‘passenger car’ and ‘multipurpose passenger vehicle’. A ‘recreational vehicle’ or ‘RV’ is neither. Standard No. 208 – Occupant Crash Protection Standard, in the section that is specific to recreational vehicles, states that rear designated seats in motor homes are excluded from the rear lap/shoulder belt requirements. While RVs may meet some Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, they are only required to comply with seat belt standards for the front passengers, but not for any rear occupants that may be traveling in Class A, Class C, or Class B RVs. Though these rear occupant seat belts are usually bolted to the floor, the biggest concern is that the wooden seat structure, on which the passenger is sitting will fail and cause injury in a crash. NHTSA does not currently crash test RVs with adults or child occupants. For these reasons, it is not recommended to rely on car seats to protect children while travelling in recreational vehicles.
Our recommendation is to choose a non-motorized tow-able RV, so that children can be restrained properly in the passenger vehicle that is towing the RV. If using a coach, have an adult drive a second car in which the children can ride so they can be restrained properly. Contact your child’s car seat manufacturer and your RV manufacturer directly for more information.
Car Seats and LSVs
Car seats are designed for the FMVSS 213 bench and motor vehicle seats meeting the federal motor vehicle safety standard definitions of “passenger car” and “multipurpose passenger vehicle.” In both these definitions, “low speed vehicle” is excluded. While low speed vehicles may meet some federal motor vehicle safety standards, they are not the same standards as passenger cars or multipurpose passenger vehicles, and therefore, car seats may not perform as designed when used in those vehicle types. It is not recommended to rely on car seats to protect children while travelling in low speed vehicles. Most car seat manufacturers prohibit use of car seats in low speed vehicles. Refer to the individual car seat manufacturers for more information.
Over-tightening of Safety Belts when installing Car Seats
Over-tightening a safety belt could damage the belt path of a car seat and/or its lock-off.* Car seats should be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Proper tightness should be confirmed by grasping the car seat with one hand at or near the belt path and pulling on the car seat. There should be no more than one inch of side-to-side or front-to-back movement at the belt path.
Using Safety Belts with Pre-tensioners to install Car Seats
Unless the car seat manufacturer instructions state differently, using a safety belt with a pre-tensioner is allowed if allowed by the vehicle manufacturer.