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Eric T. Chaffin
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NHTSA Orders More Tests on Graco Child Seats

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There is more controversy surrounding Graco’s rear-facing child seats. Now, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants the company to recall more seats due to problems with the buckle.

Graco recalled more than 4.2 million rear-facing car seats in February and March 2014 due to faulty buckles. Parents reported having difficulty removing their child from the seats. Graco claimed “food or dried liquids” caused the problems with the buckles sticking. The recalls included the following seats under model years 2009-2013:

• My Ride 70
• Smartseat
• Nautilus
• Argos 70
• Cozy Cline
• Classic Ride 50
• My Ride with Safety Surround
• Nautilus Elite
• Size 4 Me 70
• Comfort Sport
• My Ride 65

Now, the NHTSA is ordering more tests on the seats to find out exactly how long it would take to unbuckle a child. AmSafe Commercial Products manufactured the buckles. Both companies could be taken to court by the agency if no recalls are issued.

Family Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit against Graco

Leiana Ramirez died in a car fire in California after her mother was allegedly unable to free her from a Graco Nautilus car seat in August 2011. The child was apparently in a Graco Nautilus, which is on the list of recalled car seats.

Graco said the buckle was not the problem, and the case was settled out of court.

Safely Using a Car Seat

If you own a recalled car seat, get rid of it. If you have a child that still needs a car seat there are some tips to keep your child safe when you’re on the road:

• Rear-facing car seats: adhere to the height and weight limits, but generally infants and toddlers should ride in one until the age of 2
• Forward-facing seats: these should be used after your child outgrows the rear-facing seat, again adhering to the weight/height limits
• Booster seats: these seats should be used after your child can no longer fit into the forward-facing seat and until they are big enough to use the seat belt

In general, make sure that your car seat is installed properly and securely. Also, make sure that your child is wearing thinner pieces of clothing to make it easier to strap them in and get them out.

3 Comments

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  1. Joan says:
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    I am a CPST aka Car Seat Tech. There is no reason to tell parent’s to get rid of a seat with a recall. Normally a recalled seat can be repaired using a free kit that is sent by the car seat company. You should really inform parents that if they have a recalled seat they should contact the manufacture.

  2. Pamela says:
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    I too am a CPST and also feel like it’s over the line to tell parents if they own a recalled seat to get rid of it. I have two seats that were on the recalled list. I contacted Graco through their website and requested new buckles to be sent to me. Wheb I received them I replaced them. My seats are no longer considered recalled because the issue has been corrected.

  3. Eric Chaffin says:
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    You make a fair point. My experience has been that some products that are recalled undergo a series of escalating recalls. If it were my kids I would dispose of the car seat and get a new one. Others may decide that it is more economically expedient to work with the manufacturer to refit their seat and trust that there are not other issues with their car seat.