Child safety seats that are more than six years old should be replaced. Normal wear and tear may cause the seat to not work as well as it did when it was new. Also, newer seats have improved safety designs.
A safety seat that was used in a vehicle during a crash should NOT be used again; it should be destroyed. Regardless of how the seat looks or how old it is, possible unseen damage may make the seat less effective in a second crash and cause injury to a child.
Just like cars and other products, a car seat may be "recalled" because of a defect which could injure your child. Manufacturers are required to fix the problem free of charge. If your seat is recalled, be sure to get it fixed right away.
When you purchase a child safety seat, be sure to register it with the manufacturer so that you will be notified of any safety recalls. All new safety seats come with a registration card.
To check your safety seat for recalls, find the manufacturer's name and toll-free phone number on the side of the seat. Also, write down the name of your specific model, and the date of manufacture. For some recalls, you will also need to check the model number, which is found on the same sticker as the date. If the date sticker is missing or the date is not clearly marked, assume that all possible recalls apply to your seat.