The subject of child seats have been a hot topic this week, and rightly so. Some are calling out the added cost to parents, while others deem it necessary to boost the safety standards in the country.

We previously discussed the different kinds of seats and the typical price range. We also mentioned that these seats come with an expiration date. This begs the question, why do child restraint systems come with expiration dates?

It's all down to wear and tear.

If you have a child seat, you'll find yourself constantly adjusting the straps and the clasps. With that, you have parts rubbing against each other, and that causes wear. Frequent usage also takes its toll on all the fabrics and parts of a car seat. There's also the matter of cleaning up spills, which is inevitable when you have a child in the car. You'll have to clean it up and scrub it, which wears down more of the fibers and trimmings.

Then there's the heat. If you leave the seats in the car and park them under the sun all the time, some components can get brittle. The worst thing that can happen is the seat getting nearly invisible hairline cracks. The moment that happens, the integrity of the seat is compromised. That's not something you want to happen to a device you strap your child in.

With that, how long do these seats usually last? It depends on the seat and the manufacturer. Most have a “usable life” of about six years from the seat's date of manufacture. So if you buy a second-hand seat that's already two years old, it's only good for four years under your ownership. That said, it's better to buy one new with a fresher manufacturing date. However, some brands claim they can last up to ten years. One manufacturer that claims a ten-year life is Graco, but there are others out there too.

Yes, they're expensive, but child seats are a good thing if you look at the bigger picture. After all, child safety is something that should be taken seriously.