As a car seat and car safety fanatic, I try to keep an eye out for things like car seat recalls and other such announcements, and one of them is making major headlines today. Graco, one of the leading car seat manufacturers in the United States, is recalling nearly 3.8 million seats made between 2009 and July 2013.
Over the past several years, both the company and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration have received complaints that the buckles on the Graco convertibles and combination seats have a tendency to get stuck, sometimes to the point when children have had to be cut out of their seats. And while this isn’t an a major issue when it comes to restraining a child in an accident, it does become an issue if the car is on fire, or the car seat is used on an airplane and the passengers need to be evacuated quickly. The difficulty unbuckling is apparently made worse when food or beverage remnants have gotten into the buckle.
Graco has yet to announce a “fix,” though they have been offering replacement buckles to customers who call and complain for several months now, so it’s likely just a matter of time before they determine how to best address the issue. In the meantime, if you own one of the seats involved in the recall, you need to contact Graco and find out what they’d like you to do with your seat(s)… which is what we’ll be doing in just a few minutes since we own and love the My Ride 65. If you can’t get through, wait a little while and try again. Their call lines are likely to be very, very busy today.
The seats involved in the recall include the following: Cozy Cline, Comfort Sport, Classic Ride 50, My Ride 65, My Ride with Safety Surround, My Ride 70, Size4Me 70, MySize 70, Smartseat, Nautilus, Nautilus Elite and Argos 70.
Notably, seven very popular Graco infant seats have not been included in the recall, even though they use the same style crotch buckle, which Graco said is because infants don’t get food/beverages in the buckle like older kids do, but the NHTSA is continuing to look into this. For those who are concerned about the infant seats, you can always call Graco and ask about alternate buckles, but it’s probably best to wait a little while so that they can address this recall first.
While it’s scary to think that your child’s car seat may not be perfectly safe, remember that these recalls and the work by the NHTSA are implemented to keep your children safe, and that if there are any critical safety issues, they will be addressed.
For more information, see the Graco recall page here (which has been down most of the day due to high traffic) or contact Graco at 1-800-345-4109.