Thanks for the help ladies. The car seat I have not yet seen, it belongs to a friend and has been in no accidents. I do trust her to tell me the truth, but I was also worried about the issue...what if the car seat accidentally fell down the stairs? No baby of course, but could that be enough of an impact to damage it? I don't know. The car seat, as far as I know, has not yet expired. BUT we have a beautiful one at home that I would love to use, but it has passed it's 6 year expiry date. Too bad since it is in perfect and beautiful shape.
*sigh* I still am not sure what to do!! Maybe I'll have a look at it and take it to the local 9-1-1 detachmemt and have them check it out for me.